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New Research

The two people I know of currently doing Macky family research are Robin Moran of the Fahan Presbyterian Church and Wanda Hopkins of the Cochrane line, which is closely associated with the Macky family.

Jillian Dwyer is also researching Australian-born artist Constance Lillian Macky neé Jenkins, wife of Eric Spencer Macky [B.3.a] — see below, you might be able to help.

Robin recently supplied us with photographs of various Macky family graves dating from the early part of the 19th century along with various transcriptions from the Irish press of the same period.

Wanda's passion for genealogy is well documented. She has contributed articles to the New Zealand Society of Genealogists and various other media, and maintains two family history blogs.

Wanda has enjoyed being involved in many research projects of her own and has recently collaborated with Robin to put together the booklet, Heeding the Call, which appears on this website. She has also been working with Kae Lewis of The Treasury at Thames, NZ to have two of her stories about the NZ goldrush put on-line. Kae has her own website with a database of mining records: Goldrush Online.

Wanda relates that one of the spin-offs of carrying out her research has been having the opportunity to network with family, and discovering many more remote family connections including those descended from Sarah McElwain, John Cowan Cochrane, Dacre and the Goodfellow families, many of whom are mentioned in the letters on this site.

Wanda's current research interests include the life of John Cowan Cochrane who settled in Australia in 1850 whom she describes as a much bigger character than she expected. John describes this early period of his life in Australia in Letter 20. It was to John that Samuel Cochrane Macky was sent to learn farming in 1860.

A link to one of her stories about John Cochrane follows, albeit with some unexpected assistance from one of literature's masters.

The Educated Farmer (A glimpse into the life of John Cowan Cochrane)

Wanda also wanted to share a letter the transcript of a family letter that she found in the Auckland Library archives in the Macky records held there. She believes that this letter is of great significance, not only for those who have been involved in documenting the 150th anniversary of the Thames goldfields, but for the family itself. A PDF of both the letter and the transcript are attached. Wanda welcomes your comments.

She remains ever grateful for the information on this website and the help it has given her in her own family research, and ultimately, reaching for new personal goals.

Brick wall

Even Wanda seeks help sometimes. Is anyone able to shed any light on this, please?

To commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Fahan Presbyterian church, Wanda put together several pieces for the committee to include in their 2019 celebrations:

  • Heeding the Call, a joint effort by Robin and Wanda.
  • Their Spiritual Home — The Cochran Family of Upper Fahan & Buncrana (1719 - 1911)

Greetings to The Macky Family in New Zealand.

I am an independent researcher, currently completing a biography of Australian-born artist, Constance Lillian Jenkins. As a young woman in the years prior to World War 1, Constance L. Jenkins (known as Connie) made her mark as an artist in Melbourne. In 1912, she married New Zealand-born Eric Spencer Macky [B.3.a], artist and arts administrator, and they made their home in San Francisco. As Constance L. Macky, in San Francisco she became a well-known artist, portrait painter and teacher across the inter-war years. For the title of my book, I acknowledge her as Constance Jenkins Macky, to bring together these two distinct phases of her life and career - Constance Jenkins Macky: An Artist's Journey Melbourne to San Francisco.

Constance Jenkins Macky was an outstanding artist and remarkable woman. As Constance Jenkins, she grew up in suburban Melbourne in constrained Victorian times; enjoyed a more liberal ethos studying art at the National Gallery of Victoria; and earned kudos as the outstanding exhibitor at the First Australian Exhibition of Women's Work 1907, and first woman to win the National Gallery of Victoria Travelling Scholarship in 1908, predictors of a brilliant career. While at the Gallery Art School, she first met [Eric] Spencer Macky, who was also a student there.

As travelling scholar, she studied first in Paris then London. In Paris, she was reunited with Spencer; in London, they became secretly engaged. In 1910, Spencer left London optimistic about the chances for a career in the United States, while Connie completed the final year of her scholarship crossing Europe to Venice, painting many small works as a record of her travels. They were separated for nearly two years. At the beginning of 1912 and back home in Melbourne, Connie mounted a celebrated exhibition, before packing her bags and, despite parental disapproval, rejoining Spencer now settled in San Francisco. The day after her arrival, they married.

In association with Spencer Macky, she was co-founder of the Macky Art School, which was a highly successful endeavour. In 1917, it was absorbed into the California School of Fine Arts, an affiliated college of the University of California. Spencer became Professor of Painting and Drawing and eventually Dean of Faculty; and Connie was an Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing and a much-admired teacher. Both were prominent in the San Francisco art world. Spencer had a stellar career as an arts administrator and Connie became an award-winning and highly respected senior artist, with a history of exhibition across twenty-five years. Academically trained, she created a transitional style incorporating classical and modernist elements, to become a leading portrait painter of her day, particularly known for her empathetic portraits of women.

At the same time, she was a much-loved mother, dedicated to her family and building her career around her family responsibilities. In this respect, Constance Jenkins Macky presaged the dilemmas and successes of women across the 20th century, who similarly balanced careers and family life. In every sense, she was the emergent Twentieth-century woman.

Ongoing Contacts with New Zealand

Across the years, Spencer and Connie maintained contact with New Zealand relatives. Connie visited the Macky family on her trip from Melbourne to San Francisco in 1912 — there is a photograph of her on the steps of the Macky home in Auckland, in the online archive The Macky Family in New Zealand. Spencer's mother and his sister, Elizabeth, came to San Francisco on several occasions and stayed for extended periods of time. Spencer also travelled to New Zealand in 1922. Connie did not join him. Always prone to seasickness, she was terrified to make the trip by boat; and the care of two young sons also kept her at home. She finally made the journey in 1953 and then by air. She and Spencer spent a leisurely three months catching up with family members and taking in New Zealand's natural wonders and beauty. Connie was amazed, wondering why the whole country was not out with brush and palette painting the picturesque countryside.

They also sent art works to New Zealand for exhibition. They both had paintings in the Jubilee Exhibition of the Auckland Society of the Arts in 1921. Connie sent two works, one identified only as a light study and the other a portrait of Spencer Macky as the artist in his studio, originally painted in Paris and shown at the Paris Salon in 1910. It was described in the press as a splendid piece of work, notable for its masterly handling of tones. Spencer was fêted as one of New Zealand's most successful art students, with remarkable achievements abroad as an artist and arts administrator. He submitted five paintings, all of which remained in New Zealand. Boy with a kite and a figure study, Egyptian girl, were purchased for donation to the Auckland Art Gallery, where they remain today. A portrait titled Mother and child, possibly of Connie and son Donald as a babe in arms, went into the collection of Mrs Walter Pallot (Spencer's sister Rebecca Macky). There was also a portrait of a young naval officer (unidentified) and another figure work referred to variously as The finishing touch and Golden girl (now unknown).

In 1925, Connie and Spencer exhibited again with the Auckland Society of Arts. Connie submitted a work titled Beauty and the beast, shown previously as The blue beast in San Francisco in 1918 and again in 1923, when it was illustrated in the exhibition catalogue. At the time, her portrait style was compared to that of masters such as Reynolds; but she was also credited with exercising a more modern liberalising influence in her use of a brightly coloured palette. It was colour that drew attention to Beauty and the beast in New Zealand, where it was described as a brilliant figure study, strong and vigorous in its treatment, with an arresting contrast created by the rich red colouring of the subject's dress beside the blue of the ornament she carried. This portrait remained in New Zealand in the collection of Spencer Macky's brother, Mr Victor Macky [B.3.e] of Auckland. The beast was a blue ceramic Foo dog owned by Connie, which appeared in several of her paintings. It was regarded as a family treasure, kept by her son Donald across his life.

I would love to have more information about this portrait and to see it in colour would be marvellous. Does it still exist in New Zealand? Does it remain in a Macky family collection? Is the subject a Macky relative? Did the treasured ornament — the Foo dog — perhaps have some connection to the Macky family? I only possess this black-and-white photograph of the painting, taken from a catalogue for an exhibition in 1923.

Constance L Macky (1883-1961)
Blue beast or Beauty and the beast 1918
Oil on canvas
Dimensions unknown

Exhibited San Francisco 1918 and 1923
Exhibited Auckland Society of the Arts, 1925

Originally in the collection of Mr Victor Macky [B.3.e], Auckland, New Zealand; now unknown.

This black-and-white image taken from the exhibition catalogue 1923 is the only known image.

Another painting by Constance Macky, which went into the collection of Mrs Walter Pallot, was an early work titled Spring. I know this only from a poor black-and-white reproduction in a San Francisco newspaper. I would love to see a good image.

Constance L Macky (1883-1961)
Spring 1915
Oil on canvas
Dimensions unknown

Exhibited 1915

Originally in the collection of Mrs Walter Pallot, Napier, New Zealand; then Mr John Pallot, Christchurch, New Zealand; then unknown.

Illustration from the San Francisco Examiner, noted as a charming picture. The only known image.

Also of interest are two paintings by Spencer Macky. I know one of these only as a black-and-white image. Titled Mother and child, it was painted in 1914. It is very likely a portrait of Connie with her baby son, Donald, given the date and the appearance of the young mother. Donald was born in June 1913. There is a battered photograph of this mother and child in almost identical pose, so the portrait may have been based on the photograph. Again, this painting was originally in the collection of Mrs Walter Pallot.

E. Spencer Macky (1880-1958)
Mother and child 1914
Oil on canvas
Dimensions unknown

Exhibited several times in San Francisco and in New Zealand at the Auckland Society of Arts in 1921.

Originally in the collection of Mrs Walter Pallot, Napier, New Zealand; then Mr John Pallot, Christchurch, New Zealand; then unknown.

Known only from this catalogue image 1915. There is a photograph of mother and child in similar pose.

Another painting by Spencer Macky is a good one to finish on. It resides permanently in the Auckland Art Gallery and there is an image available in colour and online. It is a joyful work, a representation of a young boy playing with a kite. It is very likely Connie and Spencer's son, Donald, about to launch his kite on the open, windy spaces of Corona Heights, near the Macky home in suburban San Francisco. The New Zealand Herald, 27 May 1921, described it beautifully: The boy with the Kite is a study of abounding joy of life, of sunshine and wind on the hill top; bold and free in treatment, full of colour and animation, it carries a suggestion of strength and vigour refreshing as the wind that is driving the clouds across the sky.

E. Spencer Macky (1880-1958)
Boy with kite 1919
Oil on canvas
157.5 x 106.7 cm
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tãmaki

Exhibited several times in San Francisco.

Exhibited at the Auckland Society of the Arts 1921. Purchased for donation to the Auckland Art Gallery.

I would be delighted to hear from anybody who could provide me with further information about any of these paintings, particularly the two works by Constance Macky and the portrait Mother and child by Spencer Macky.

My contact email is

Jillian Dwyer