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The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Macleay, Hon. Sir William John

Macleay, Hon. Sir William John, M.L.C., second son of Kenneth Macleay, of Keiss Castle, Caithness, by Isabella, daughter of John Horne, and nephew of the late Hon. Alexander Macleay, M.L.C., F.R.S., sometime Colonial Secretary and Speaker of the First Legislative Council of New South Wales, was born in Caithness on June 13th, 1820, and educated at the Academy and the University of Edinburgh, emigrating in 1839 to New South Wales, where he engaged in squatting on the Murrumbidgee until 1854, when his parliamentary career commenced. He was elected to the old Legislative Council for Lachlan and Lower Darling in 1854, and sat in the Assembly for Murrumbidgee from 1856 to 1874, when he resigned, and conducted an expedition to New Guinea, in his own barque, The Chevert, in company with Capt. Onslow, starting from Sydney on May 15th, 1875. He was nominated to the Legislative Council in Oct. 1877, on his return from this journey. In June 1857 Mr. Macleay married Susan Emmeline, second daughter of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Edward Deas Thomson. He was knighted in 1889, and died on Dec. 7th, 1891. Sir William was the holder of the gold medal struck in 1875 to commemorate distinguished services in connection with the stamping out of bushranging, having assisted in repulsing an attack by the notorious Gilbert gang at Plumb's Inn, near Goulburn, in 1864, and he was also the recipient of a gold medal from the International Fisheries Exhibition of London for his book on the fishes of Australia. To the Linnæan Society he a few years back presented a meeting-house at Elizabeth Bay, adjoining his residence, where he provided everything necessary for meeting and for study. He also set apart a sufficient sum of money to endow four fellowships of £400 each yearly at the Sydney University, so that students might follow up their studies at the university after attaining the degree of B.Sc. By his will he bequeathed £20,000 to the Linnæan Society.