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Alexander Mckay

Alexander McKay, one of 180 convicts transported on the Sir Godfrey Webster, 04 August 1823

Name, Aliases & Gender

Name: Alexander Mckay
Aliases: none
Gender: m

Birth, Occupation & Death

Date of Birth: 1802
Occupation: Printer
Date of Death: 14th June, 1882
Age: 80 years

Life Span

Life span

Male median life span was 56 years*

* Median life span based on contributions

Conviction & Transportation

Sentence Severity

Sentence Severity

Sentenced to Life

Crime: Robbery
Convicted at: Glasgow Court of Justiciary
Sentence term: Life
Ship: Sir Godfrey Webster
Departure date: 4th August, 1823
Arrival date: 30th December, 1823
Place of arrival Van Diemen's Land
Passenger manifest Travelled with 180 other convicts


Primary source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Page Number 104 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mckay-alexander-2404
Source description: This record is one of the entries in the British convict transportation registers 1787-1867 database compiled by State Library of Queensland from British Home Office (HO) records which are available on microfilm as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project.

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Community Contributions

Maree DC on 27th May, 2019 wrote:

Occupation at time of conviction Apprentice bookbinder / printer
Married Catherine Hands in 1839
See Australian Dictionary of Biography.

greg petersen on 30th June, 2019 wrote:

conduct record entry:
173 Kay Mc. Alex.
Transported for “Robbery”
Gaol report “Good”
Hulk report “Orderly”
Single, Stated this offence, stealing from the person of Rob. Harvey a gold watch Colley St.
F & M in Glasgow
1824 May 20th, Dr. Bromley’s chain gang, absconded from his gang on Wednesday last and secreted on board the Ardent with intent to escape from the colony, 50 lashes
1831 Free Pardon #80, 24th November.

greg petersen on 30th June, 2019 wrote:

In February 1827 McKay petitioned for a ticket-of-leave, since 1825 he had been in the employ of the government, under Captain John Welsh and on whose recommendation he was been assigned to the Van Diemen’s Land Company. In April 1826 he had explored north-west Tasmania with the VDL company’s surveyors, charting the coastline in an open boat searching for every practicable harbour. Edward Curr, Chief Agent of VDL company and Welsh testified to his good behaviour. Governor (Sir) George Arthur refused to grant a ticket-of-leave as McKay had been in the colony only three years and had attempted to escape. In December 1829 McKay sought leave to go in pursuit of troublesome Aboriginals and Arthur decided that he should join George Augustus Robinson with the promise of emancipation within two years if his conduct had merited it.
From January 1830 to April 1831 McKay worked under the supervision of Robinson rounding up Aboriginals in the north-east of VDL also in the party were two indigenous leaders, Wooreddy and Truganini. Robinson made no secret in his journals that he despised McKay and the other assigned convicts, they in their turn held him in the same contempt, Robinson’s decision to lead the party in a gruelling overland trek through hazardous terrain instead of taking a boat added to their animosity. McKay was left in charge of the natives for thirteen weeks, they had taken to Swan Island. Robinson had left for Hobart Town and upon his return in a government vessel, took the natives to Preservation Island.  Robinson declared that in his absence McKay had connived with the sealers and cohabited with the natives, even killing some of them. There is evidence that Truganini had formed a relationship with McKay even prior to Robinson’s departure. McKay in his defence claimed that he had tried to persuade the sealers not to molest the Aboriginals. In 1830, he was granted a conditional pardon for his services for opening ‘a conciliatory communication with the Aboriginal Tribes’.
In April 1831 George Frankland asked for McKay’s services at £1 a week to search for a lead-mine this was on the evidence of the specimens collected by McKay from indigenous tribesmen. In June George Frankland asked for him again to mark out a road to Port Davey. Governor Arthur was still distrustful of McKay and was reluctant to place him in charge of such projects. In September the same year while he was in an expedition led by Robinson, he captured six natives and found the bodies of Captain Bartholomew Thomas and his overseer James Parker who had been “treacherously murdered by the three native men, ‘Wowee,’ ‘Mackamee,’ and ‘Calamaroweyne’, aided and assisted by the residue of the tribe of Aborigines to which they belonged and known by the name of the ‘Big River Tribe’ near Port Sorell. As a reward Arthur gave him a suburban allotment and in November he was given a free pardon for meritorious conduct in capturing several natives in spite of repeated bold attempts by the tribes to rescue them. Frankland’s request for McKay’s services to explore in preparation for road-making was granted in April 1835, and by next January he had sixteen men under his charge on road works. While assigned to the Survey Department he traced the River Mersey to its source, and explored the Great Lake, Lake St Clair, and the Gordon River. It was during this time that he became acquainted with James Calder (the government surveyor who had an interest in the indigenous people and pleaded for the use of their place names). By 1864 McKay had settled on forty-six acres at Peppermint Bay, dying there on 14 June 1882 in his eightieth year.
in a footnote the ANU biography notes:
“Frankland and Calder thought well of his work but there is evidence that he was a violent and untrustworthy man”.

Convict Changes History

Maree DC on 27th May, 2019 made the following changes:

surname: Mckay (prev. McKay), date of birth: 1802 (prev. 0000), gender: m, crime

Iris Dunne on 27th May, 2019 made the following changes:


greg petersen on 30th June, 2019 made the following changes:

date of death: 14th June, 1882 (prev. 0000)

greg petersen on 30th June, 2019 made the following changes:

source: Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Page Number 104 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mckay-alexander-2404 (prev. Australian Joint Copying Project. Microfilm Roll 88, Class and Piece Number HO11/5, Pag

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