Major General Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, 1st Baronet, GCB, GCH,
FRS, FRSE (23 July 1773 – 27 January 1860), was a British Army
officer, administrator, and astronomer. Upon the recommendation of the
Duke of Wellington, with whom he had served, he was appointed governor
New South Wales
New South Wales
from 1821 to 1825. A keen astronomer, he built the
colony's second observatory and encouraged scientific and agricultural
training. Rivals besmirched his reputation and the British Secretary
of State for the Colonies, Lord Bathurst, recalled
colonial secretary Frederick Goulburn. Brisbane, a new convict
settlement, was named in his honour and is now among the largest
cities in Australia.
1 Early life
4 Later years
8 External links
Brisbane was born at
Brisbane House in Noddsdale, near
Ayrshire, Scotland, the son of Sir Thomas
Brisbane and Dame Eleanora
Brisbane. He was educated in astronomy and mathematics at the
University of Edinburgh. He joined the British Army's 38th (1st
Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot in 1789 and had a distinguished career
in Flanders, the West Indies, Spain and North America. He served under
the Duke of Wellington, and in 1813 he was promoted to major general.
He saw much action during the Peninsular War, including leading a
brigade in the 3rd Division that broke through at the Battle of
Vitoria. He continued as a brigade commander in the War of 1812, where
in 1814 he led a brigade at the Battle of Plattsburgh, which Brisbane
claimed they could have won if they had been allowed to launch a full
infantry attack. During the battle, he used the Charles C. Platt
Homestead as his headquarters. For his services in the Peninsula,
Brisbane received the
Army Gold Cross
Army Gold Cross with one clasp for the battles
of Vitoria, the Pyrenees, Nivelle, Orthez, and Toulouse; and the
silver war medal with one clasp for the Nive.
In November 1819 he married Anna Maria Hay Makdougall of Makerstoun,
Roxburghshire, Scotland. On his father-in-law's death, Brisbane
assumed the additional surname, becoming Makdougall Brisbane.
In 1821, on the recommendation of Wellington,
Brisbane was appointed
Governor of New South Wales, a post he held until 1825.
over the government on 1 December 1821, and at once proceeded to carry
out some of the reforms recommended in the report of John Bigge. While
Governor he tackled the many problems of a rapidly growing and
expanding colony. He worked to improve the land grants system and to
reform the currency. Brisbane's keen interest in science led him to
accept the invitation to become the first President of the
Philosophical Society of Australasia that later became the Royal
Society of New South Wales, the oldest learned institution in the
Southern Hemisphere. He also set up the first agricultural training
New South Wales
New South Wales and was the first patron of the New South
Wales Agricultural Society. He conducted experiments in growing
tobacco, cotton, coffee and
New Zealand flax
New Zealand flax in the colony.
Brisbane did not always receive loyal support from his
administrative officers, and in particular from Frederick Goulburn,
the colonial secretary. A reference to Brisbane's dispatch to Earl
Bathurst dated 14 May 1825 shows that Bigge's recommendations had been
carefully considered, and that many improvements had been made.
Brisbane did not limit his attention to Bigge's report. Early in April
1822 he discovered with some surprise the ease with which grants of
land had hitherto been obtained. He immediately introduced a new
system under which every grant had the stipulation that for every 100
acres (400,000 m2) granted the grantee would maintain free of
expense to the crown one convict labourer. He also encouraged
agriculture on government land, streamlined granting of tickets of
leave and pardons and introduced, in 1823, a system of calling for
supplies by tender. When Dr.
Robert Wardell and William Wentworth
brought out their paper the Australian in 1824,
Brisbane tried the
experiment of allowing full latitude of the freedom of the press.
Brisbane sent Lieutenant
John Oxley to find a new site for
convicts who were repeat offenders. Oxley discovered a large river
flowing into Moreton Bay. A year later, the first convicts arrived at
Brisbane visited the settlement in December 1824. Oxley
suggested that both the river and the settlement be named after
Brisbane. The convict settlement was declared a town in 1834 and
opened to free settlement in 1839.
Brisbane was doing useful work, but he could not escape the effects of
the constant faction fights which also plagued previous governors.
Henry G. Douglass, the assistant-surgeon, was the centre of one of the
bitter conflicts. Consequently, charges of various kinds against
Brisbane were sent to England. The worst of these, that he had
connived at sending female convicts to Emu Plains for immoral
purposes, was investigated by William Stewart, the
lieutenant-governor, John Stephen, assistant judge, and the Rev.
William Cowper, senior assistant-chaplain, and found to be without the
Brisbane discovered that Goulburn, the colonial
secretary, had been withholding documents from him and answering some
without reference to the governor, and in 1824 reported his conduct to
Lord Bathurst. In reply, Bathurst recalled both the governor and the
colonial secretary in dispatches dated 29 December 1824.
Brisbane was a keen astronomer throughout his career. He had an
observatory built at his ancestral home in 1808. From this observatory
he was able to contribute to the advances in navigation which took
place over the next hundred years. He took telescopes, books and two
Carl Ludwig Christian Rümker
Carl Ludwig Christian Rümker and James
New South Wales
New South Wales with him. On arrival he had the first
properly-equipped Australian observatory built at Parramatta while
waiting for his predecessor, Governor Macquarie to complete his final
arrangements. The Parramatta observatory recorded stars of the
southern hemisphere, the first detailed observations from the
continent. Its major contribution was Rumker's rediscovery of Enke's
comet in 1822.
Brisbane left his equipment and books in the colony
when he returned to Scotland. Remnants of this collection survive in
the Sydney Observatory.
Brisbane left Sydney in December 1825 and returned to Scotland. In
1826 he was made Colonel of the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot. He
added the name of Makdougall before Brisbane, and settled down to the
life of a country gentleman and took interest in science, his estate,
and his regiment. He was elected president of the Royal Society of
Edinburgh (1832) in succession to Sir Walter Scott, and in 1836 he was
created a baronet. In the same year he was offered the command of
the troops stationed in Canada and two years later the chief command
in India, but declined both. He continued his astronomical researches,
and did valuable work.
He was the first patron of science in Australia, and as such was
eulogised by Sir
John Herschel when he presented
Brisbane with the
gold medal of the
Royal Astronomical Society
Royal Astronomical Society in 1828. Oxford and
Cambridge Universities gave him the honorary degree of DCL, and he was
elected a fellow of the Royal Societies of both London and Edinburgh.
He was created
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1814 and
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1837.
In 1828 he won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He
Brisbane Catalogue of 7,385 stars of the Southern
Hemisphere in 1835. The
Observatory was used until 1855.
Brisbane family vault in Largs
Brisbane returned to Scotland he continued his studies and built
a further observatory on his wife's estate, Makerstoun, near Kelso in
the Borders. He was a member of the
Royal Society of Edinburgh
Royal Society of Edinburgh and
Keith Medal in 1848. He was elected president in 1832
after the death of Sir Walter Scott, and in the following year acted
as president of the British Association for the Advancement of
Science. He founded a gold medal for the encouragement of scientific
research to be awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Brisbane died much respected and honoured on 27 January 1860 in Largs.
His four children predeceased him. He is buried in the
Vault, which is in the small kirkyard next to the remains of
Kirk (known as Skelmorlie Aisle).
The following features are named after Thomas Brisbane:
Brisbane, the Australian state of Queensland's largest city and
Brisbane River in Queensland, Australia.
Brisbane, a crater on the Moon.
Brisbane Street, Greenock
Brisbane Water, an estuary on the Central Coast of New South Wales.
Brisbane Planetarium, located in Brisbane, Queensland.
Noddsdale, the valley near
Largs where his birthplace
was situated, was renamed
Brisbane Glen in his honour.
Isabella Plains, a suburb in Canberra, named in honour of Isabella
Brisbane, a daughter of Sir Thomas.
Brisbane House Hotel in Largs, a town located by the sea in North
Brisbane bridge in Largs
Brisbane prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Many other uses of
Brisbane derive from the Australian city and hence
are indirectly named after Thomas Brisbane.
^ The city of Brisbane, California, may in turn have been named after
Brisbane, Queensland, but the derivation is disputed.
This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain
unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. Please help to
improve this article by introducing more precise citations. (April
2009) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
^ People & Stories,
War of 1812
War of 1812 Archived 23 May 2008 at the
Wayback Machine., URL accessed 18 October 2006
^ C.D. DeRoche & Russell Bordeau (September 1978). "National
Register of Historic Places Registration: Charles C. Platt Homestead".
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.
Retrieved 24 June 2010.
^ Person Page 43467. Thepeerage.com. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
^ (Historical Records of Australia, vol. XI, pp. 571–88)
^ "No. 19359". The London Gazette. 23 February 1836.
Brisbane Water". Geographical Names Register (GNR) of NSW.
Geographical Names Board of New South Wales. Retrieved 28 December
Brisbane Glen, Largs".
Ayrshire Birding. Archived from the original
on 5 January 2009. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
Brisbane prize". Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Baynes, T.S., ed. (1878), "Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane",
Encyclopædia Britannica, 4 (9th ed.), New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, p. 347
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911), "Brisbane, Sir Thomas Makdougall",
Encyclopædia Britannica, 4 (11th ed.), Cambridge University Press,
Heydon, J.D. (1966), "Sir Thomas Makdougall
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. I, Melbourne: Melbourne
University Press, pp. 151–155
Mennell, Philip (1892), "General Sir Thos. Makdougall Brisbane", The
Dictionary of Australasian Biography, London: Hutchinson &
Serle, Percival (1949), "Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane", Dictionary
of Australian Biography, Sydney: Angus & Robertson
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Thomas Brisbane.
Brisbane papers, William L. Clements Library, University of
Governor of New South Wales
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
Baronet(of Brisbane, Ayrshire)1836–1860
Governors of New South Wales
ISNI: 0000 0000 8006 8582