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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Mackinnon, Lauchlan

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Mackinnon, Lauchlan, one of the most enterprising of the pioneer colonists of Victoria and one of the proprietors of the Melbourne Argus from 1852, until his decease on March 21st, 1888, was born at Kilbride, Isle of Skye, Scotland, on Feb. 26th, 1817. He was the second son of the late Rev. John Mackinnon, Presbyterian minister of Strath, Skye, by his marriage with Ann, daughter of Lauchlan Mackinnon, of Curry, Skye, After being educated partly at home and subsequently at Broadford, Mr. Mackinnon entered the office of his uncle Mr. Lauchlan Mackinnon, a Writer to the Signet in Glasgow; but preferring a more active life, he in 1838 proceeded to Sydney. He at once engaged in the hazardous business of "overlanding," and succeeded in his dangerous mission of conveying stock from Sydney to Adelaide—a feat which attracted much attention at the time, as it was the first overland journey made between these distant points. A little later (in 1840) he made one of the earliest overland journeys with sheep from Sydney to Melbourne. The pastoral capabilities of the country attracted his attention, and he determined to settle in Australia Felix. He took up a run in the western district on the Loddon River, and subsequently removed to Mount Fyans. He was for some years associated in business with the late Mr. James Montgomery, and in 1852 he joined Mr. Edward Wilson, and became one of the proprietors of the Argus. Prior to this he had taken a prominent part in political life, particularly interesting himself in the agitation for the separation of Port Phillip from New South Wales. He was one of the representatives for the district of Port Phillip in the Sydney Parliament in 1848, and vigorously supported its claims for justice from the governing authorities of New South Wales. He was a strong and earnest supporter of the anti-convict movement, and took a prominent part in the demonstration which was held in Melbourne in 1849, when the inhabitants resolved to oppose the landing of convicts from the ship Randolph by physical force, and to undergo any extremity of suffering rather than permit the colony to become a receptacle of felons. After separation had been secured, Mr. Mackinnon represented the Belfast and Warrnambool district in the Legislative Council of Victoria, and assisted to pass a measure intended to prevent the introduction of convicted offenders into the colony. He energetically combated the efforts of the imperial authorities to prevent the effective administration of the enactment; and on the popular opposition proving successful he proceeded in 1853 with Mr. Westgarth to Tasmania to assist the anti-transportation party in the colony. Indeed, he took a strong interest in all the public movements of the day; and his vigour and courage were so well recognised that, in the early days when bushrangers were prevalent, he had been offered the command of the police force of Port Phillip—a position which, however, he did not accept. He was one of the members of the original Council of the University of Melbourne, and first Chairman of its Building Committee. When the gold discoveries in Victoria gave such a wonderful impetus to the colony, the vigorous judgment and business ability of Mr. Mackinnon, with the brilliant literary qualities of his partner, Mr. Willson, placed the Argus in the van of the Australian press. After some years of arduous work, Mr. Mackinnon returned to England, where he remained. He was twice married, his first wife being a daughter of the late Robert Montgomery, and sister of the late Mr. James Montgomery; and his second, Emily, daughter of Capt. Bundoch, R.N.