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Next: Origin Chapter 2

1. John 2. James 3. Thomas 4. William 5. John 6. Dorcas 7. Conclusion

Origin of the Family and Causes of Migration


John Macky Elizabeth Lindsay
John Macky
Elizabeth Lindsay
Elizabeth Lindsay photo: Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, 31-68533

    We may fondly imagine that our forebears left their native home spurred by the spirit of adventure. The romantic implication of such a thought is satisfying to one's pride of race and family.
    A perusal of family letters discloses that there were some very material causes for migration. The urge to leave their home was to a very large extent a necessity. Perhaps also, there may have been some underlying desire for greater freedom of the individual.
    At the end of the previous century the north had been deeply involved in the activities of the United Irishmen-- a non-sectarian movement. This was quickly followed by the rising of the Ulster Presbyterians in 1797 and the savage repression of the movement by General Lake. The execution of William Orr (a reputed relative) for his political, or rather treasonable activities, occurred in the same year. These events were, in the 40s, matters of living memory and must have formed the subjects of many discussions.
    Thomas, writing from New Zealand, frequently refers to the freedom and liberty of individual action in the new land and is enthusiastically appreciative of this apparent change of environment.
    Nevertheless, the impelling cause was the desire to seek a land where prospects were possibly brighter than surrounded them at home, and where there was scope for initiative and energy. Ireland had been going through troublesome times economically. Growth of the population was one of the most material factors. From a population of 1,250,000 in 1700, Ireland sustained 4,500,000 in 1800. By 1841 the population had, by phenomenal increase, risen to 8,175,000. Imports and exports had risen from £10,000,000 in 1800 to £40,000,000 in 1840. But this apparent prosperity had not been sufficient to counterbalance the rapid rise in population. In any case it was mainly due to manufacturing and the prices of foodstuffs are represented as abnormally low. Even in small manufacturing concerns the Cochrane's Buncrana linen mill was a doubtful concern. Also the business of the City House in which Joseph Cochrane was concerned, failed.
    In farming, the story was a pathetic repetition of disappointment and pessimistic outlook. Farms were given up and William Macky was reduced to despair at the thought of seeing his life out in Ireland and was determined to emigrate.
    Accompanying all other difficulties, Ireland was visited in 1846 and 1847 by the potato famine. Although this dreadful calamity did not concern the north so much as the remainder of Ireland, yet the associated misery was not conducive to a feeling of contentment. As far as our family was concerned the causes were existent before this calamity overtook the country.
    It is immaterial, but interesting in these times, to read that in the first six months of 1847 the Government distributed corn to the value of £9,000,000.
    As a result of the several causes there between 1841-51, 1,500,000 emigrated from Ireland.
    James and Thomas, once away from Ireland, did not hesitate in urging the remainder of the family to follow. There is evidence of a considerable amount of impatience from both ends of the line of correspondence when decisions were asked or information wanted, but this feeling must be put down to the erratic mails.
    At times, John Macky disclosed a passion for his own soil. He vainly propounded a scheme whereby he would secure Kilfennan to James and his heirs if he would give him financial assistance. When the prospect of selling diminished he vacillated between the idea of holding Coshquin or Kilfennan. In the end his affection for his family made his parting with his land easier and he looked forward to the possibility, and the joy, of a reunited family. James and Thomas, appreciative of his love of the land, showed some cunning in purchasing a place in Auckland for him in anticipation of his arrival. Thomas urged the Reverend John with a vehemence that, in the end, moved him from his apparent comfort at Carnshanagh. Dorcas was clamorous to see her 'favourite Tommy'.
    Unanimity was at last achieved and arrangements were made for the passage of the rest of the family, even before Coshquin and Kilfennan were disposed of. Meantime, Eliza Macky, in spite of being reluctant to travel, conformed to the wishes of her children and her dominant husband.
    Throughout these years-- 1848 to 1854-- one is impressed, upon perusing the correspondence, with some extraordinary sense of destiny which seems to have helped the entire family to sever their bonds with their homeland. After generations of attachment to a country such a decision seems to be beyond human will. Unquestionably, the material oppressiveness of their surroundings was, as previously mentioned, the material reason for such a revolutionary decision.
    But, notwithstanding, the reader is intrigued with some indefinable force of which the actors themselves were unaware. Perhaps it was not so strange when we regard the characters of the individuals principally concerned-- the children of John Macky. They all possessed extraordinary self-reliance, determination and independence. If there was any physical necessity for the change, associated with it was some guiding force of providence.
    These factors found a counterpart in the mental determination of the children to find some other field where there was scope for their naturally active minds and bodies. The alternative was the very limited avenues of livelihood which their already crowded homeland afforded them. This they intuitively refused. Thus the family came to New Zealand.
    John Macky married Elizabeth Lindsay, probably in the year 1820. They had children-- James, John (Reverend John), Thomas, William and Dorcas. Here it is only intended to deal with John and his wife Elizabeth (Eliza), leaving the particular events in the lives of the children to be treated separately.
    Of John's parentage we know nothing other than that he was the son of another John Macky: ("Honest John Macky did not die; he just slept away".)
    The name of Macky appears only once in the Dictionary of National Biography. This is an entry under the name of John Macky who was a secret agent in the court of James II for William of Orange. He was the author of several books, mainly dealing with the lives and characters of personages of his time. After spending a long period in prison for some political offense he was released on the accession of George I. The legend in the family is that he came from Scotland and not at a very early date in comparison with the other Scottish settlers of Derry. No one of the name appears in the roll at the siege of Londonderry. All the related families are unquestionably of Scottish descent. The actual date of arrival and descent from that time is in the possession of a Macky at present living near Derry. For the purposes of this narrative we commence with 'Honest John'.
    It was a surprise to the writer to find so many of the name mentioned in the letters, apart from those who came to New Zealand. William Macky of Lisfannon is often quoted. "He will never go mad (he is not long in one mind)". He is ejected from his farm, goes to America, and comes back a rebel. It is the same William Macky who left for Melbourne. He is probably the son of James Macky.
    "Jack Macky of Gallaugh is gathered to his fathers".
    "James Macky in this town has got a son at last".
    Then John Cochrane writes about "one of the Mackys near Newtoncunningham". This may be a brother of the Reverend Dill Macky lately of Sydney.
    Nancy Macky died at the age of 99. There was an Aunt Catherine "in her seclusion" at Gourlay, and an Aunt Mary.
    "Old Mr. Macky of the Bank was buried this day". There were apparently many other relatives. "My Aunt Dunn is come to live with us". There was Gwynnes; Aunt Orr who had Joe Cochrane take over the Buncrana factory; Thomas Dysart wrote from New Brunswick, and John Cochrane, wrote from Melbourne, lucidly expounding why George Orr's wife was of the breed of the Mackys by way of the Fultons of Drumbasnet!
    Of Eliza Macky we know she was the daughter of James and Janet Lindsay. The maiden name of Janet Lindsay was reputed to be Orr, which would be of an older generation than the wife of Joseph Cochrane who was also an Orr-- the mother of two of the wives of John Macky's sons. The writer remembers that in his home were two small silver spoons with the letter 'O' engraved upon them. The legend of the spoons was that the original owner was hanged on the walls of Londonderry. It is a fact that a William Orr, a United Irishman, was executed at Carrickfergus in 1797 for the crime of issuing a treasonable oath to one Lindsay. We know no more than that Eliza Macky was a Lindsay and her mother was an Orr.
    Apart from the subsequent marriages of the two children of John Macky, John and Thomas, to Cochrane women, there is unquestionably some prior relationship between the Mackys and Cochranes. Catherine, in writing to Thomas before their marriage, ends in one case "your affectionate cousin". This proof of relationship is not infallible in view of the fact that Thomas goes further and ends one letter "your affectionate husband" some two years before they were married. However, we can only hope the Cochranes will get settled in their proper places as we proceed.
    John and Eliza Macky had their home in Coshquin, situated some few miles north west of Londonderry and close to the shores of Loch Swilly. It was apparently a farming property of moderate extent, mainly grazing, while some small croppings of flax, turnips and potatoes was undertaken.
    Kilfennan was another property which John owned in conjunction with Coshquin. He apparently was deeply attached to this property and made vain overtures to James, then in New Zealand, that if he would provide financial aid he would secure it for him and his heirs. He wanted to keep it in the family.
    He writes a very intimate story of his farming vicissitudes but is apparently a great optimist in spite of all.
    James left Londonderry in 1840, followed by Thomas in 1848. The attachment formed between Thomas and Catherine Cochrane, without the knowledge of John Macky, culminated in this lady leaving London in October of 1851 to be married to Thomas on her arrival at Auckland. Then followed William who left in 1852 on the strength of Kilfennan having been sold to a Mr Glenn. This sale fell through owing to the death of Mr Glenn, but by that time William had set sail.
    The urgent letters of Thomas to the Reverend John during the next two years caused the latter to decide on going and he went so far as to book one of the stern cabins in the Cashmere. John Macky was then approaching 70 years of age and one can readily visualise that thus uprooting from old associations was not an easy matter.
    There all records cease. Apparently both Coshquin and Kilfennan were sold. Ecca Macky, when visiting Coshquin in 1937, met Mr Shannon, a descendent of the purchaser of Coshquin from John Macky.
    In the Cashmere came with John and Eliza Macky and their daughter Dorcas, the Reverend John Macky, and his wife, Rebecca, their children, Samuel Cochrane, John, Joseph James, Margaret Cochrane and Elizabeth.
    Also by the ship came Mrs Ann Alexander (sister of Rebecca Macky) and her children, John, Samuel, Joseph and Mary. J Ferguson was brought as a farm hand and Mary Ann Fogarty as a maid.
    The Cashmere arrived in Auckland on the 22nd August, 1854. News of her impending arrival reached Auckland and James, Thomas and William hired a waterman's boat and sailed out beyond Rangitoto to meet them. There they were successful in getting under the Cashmere's bows while still under sail. The verbal exchanges between John and his sons have been handed down to the present generation but they are better left unrecorded. It is left to the imagination to appreciate the greetings and exchange of news between the members of the family in New Zealand and the newcomers.
    We next find the Reverend John entering upon his charge at Papatoetoe accompanied by John, Eliza and Dorcas, after spending about a year with Thomas in Auckland. James by now had bought further land, owning in all some 420 acres, extending from the South Road beyond Baird's in East Tamaki. James transferred Section 21, which came to be known as Salem, to the Reverend John. It was there that John, Eliza and Dorcas made their home until they moved to Willow Glen in 1857. It transpired that John Macky's intended farm was taken over by his son, the Reverend John. He was content in his old age to live a life of ease. James had given to his father some 14 acres off one corner of Section 53, and here they made their home called Willow Glen. Wrenched from his old home to a new land at the age of 70 one might wonder at his reactions. However, he was not one to brood at any time and the success of his sons and their standing in the new community was a matter of great pleasure and gratification to him. Later, he was obviously somewhat mortified by the financial embarrassment of James in the 60s, but all evidence proves he maintained a proud and bold front and undiminished affection for the sons who had brought him to this new land. He died at Willow Glen on July 14, 1871, at the age of 86 of 'old age' (according to his death certificate). Eliza survived him by two years, dying on April 26, 1873.
    All accounts go to show he was a courtly gentleman, fearless, dominating, deeply religious and of the most kindly of dispositions. Well educated himself, he had seen that all his children had the same advantages. With leaner times upon him, in his last years at Coshquin, his earnest desire to have Dorcas 'finished' in the same manner as he had been able to afford for his sons was evident.
    His liking for strong language has been handed down through the generations. He could, unblushingly, in the presence of the churchgoers, compliment his son, the Reverend John, on "a damned fine sermon".
    He was fond of other spiritual comforts. Upon Thomas arriving once with the required refreshment he is reported to have greeted him, "Glad to see you, Thomas. I have been a teetotaler for two weeks and it's a damned poor affair".
    Eliza, like most wives, knew him better than he thought. Waking her one night, the following conversation ensued:
John: Eliza, I'm ill. Send for the doctor.
Eliza: Lie down, John; you'll be alright by the morn.
John: Woman, I tell you I'm ill. Send for the doctor.
Eliza: Lie down John, and be quiet.
John: Eliza, if you don't send for the doctor I'll go myself.
    It cannot be due to undue affection of one's ancestors to revere the memory of Eliza Macky. She early disclosed her motherliness when writing to Thomas and asked for particulars of James' children, only one of whom she had seen. She had a lingering hope that they were "obedient". Her character is fully uncovered in her letter to Thomas, the bearer being Catherine (Kitty). We must pay tribute to her fortitude and loyalty in following the fortunes and ventures of her husband and their children as only one of noble character may. She lived to see all her children married and settled in the land of their adoption. She would readily stay in the house of one or other of her children during sickness or when they required nursing. In detail, we have little else to remember this lady by but this lack is to some extent alleviated by the general reverence with which her name was spoken by those who knew her.