John Kenneth Mackay

John Kenneth Mackay

Featured Image: John Kenneth Mackay Snr (father of J K Mackay Jnr see below) who died in 1909

In the footsteps of the Dangar, Bowman, White, Dumaresq and other pastoralist pioneers followed the Mackay brothers in the latter half of the 19th century. John Kenneth, George, Duncan Forbes and Charles all made a highly significant impact on the social fabric of the Hunter Valley and left an enduring family legacy over the ensuing one hundred years. Their tentacles spread much further afield throughout Eastern Australia specifically Queensland.

Obituary; Dungog Chronicle and Gloucester Advertiser (1937)

The State has lost one of its most prominent pastoralists and many have lost a trusted friend in the passing of John Kenneth Mackay, of “Cangon”, Dungog. Aged 79 years and 8 months, his health had been gradually fading, but the end came unexpectedly on Wednesday night, as briefly mentioned in our last issue.

Messages of condolence came from all parts of New South Wales, and the large concourse of mourners at the graveside was a sincere and fitting tribute to man of noble character. The name Mackay is known throughout Australia and her welfare and progress have been closely linked with the pioneering development carried out by various members of the family.

Deceased’s father, John Kenneth Mackay Snr., was born on Prince Edward Island in 1828, his father being a native of Sutherland in the far north west of Scotland. In 1859 the family came to this State, settling at “Melbee”, adjoining “Cangon”. His brothers were George Snr. (late of Melbee), Duncan (late of Minimbah) and Charles (late of Maitland) and the sisters were Mrs Edward Sparke, Mrs V. Dowling, Mrs Augustus Hooke and Mrs G. J. Cobb (all deceased). After spending some time in Queensland with his brothers, he returned to this State at the time of the gold fever, and on the death of his father in 1851, became proprietor of “Cangon”. A great traveller, he visited Japan, England and the Continent.

In 1856 Mr Mackay Snr., married Miss Emily Isabel Hooke, of Wirra Gulla who was the first white female child born in Dungog district. She first saw the light of day at Wirra Gulla within a mile of where she lived, and died on 26th April 1919 at the age of 84. Her kindly nature and sweet disposition endeared her to all.

The Hooke family was amongst the first of the Australian pioneers and originally came from Gloucester, England. They went to Tasmania for a while and then to N.S.W.

Mr. J. K. Mackay Snr., died on April 19, 1909 honoured and loved throughout the State. There were two sons, John Kenneth whose death has just taken place, and Mr. W. H. Mackay of Sydney.

The subject of this notice came to “Cangon” in 1919 from “Pullaming” station, Gunnedah, following the death of his mother. His many and varied interest precluded him from taking an active part in public affairs, and with his retiring disposition, he helped many movements in a quiet and unostentatious way. Mrs. Mackay, however, has ever been prominent in Church and charitable affairs and in the public welfare generally.

The late Mr. Mackay was educated at Mr. Skillman’s school, Booral, and at Dr. David Sly’s college in Sydney. He matriculated and entered St Andrew’s College within the University and studied medicine. After some years he forsook the profession, the call of the land being too great.

Many years were spent in the Walgett district but in between times the late Mr. Mackay travelled abroad visiting the Continent, England and America. In all he made three trips. It was in England he met Miss Partridge of Nymett, Devonshire, whom he married. There was no issue to the union and they adopted form infancy, Messrs J. Kenneth and Robert T. Mackay.

Deceased is survived by his widow and two adopted sons from their infancy Messrs J. Kenneth and Robert T., of “Cangon”, nephews, W. H. Jnr., of “Tinagroo”, F. Keith, of Scrumlo (Aberdeen), and J. J. of Merrimuka, Scone; nieces, Mrs Alix Verge (Sydney), Mrs. Monty Walker (Sydney), and Mrs R. Turnbull (Melbourne). As previously mentioned, his brother, Mr. W. H. Mackay, of Sydney, also survives.

The late Mr. Mackay was a student of human nature and a keen judge of his fellowman. He was most unselfish, and his sympathy and warmth of heart endeared him to all. He bore good will to all men and his acts of kindness were innumerable. His employees were deeply attached to him and even the most hardened bushmen were visibly affected at the funeral. He had a unique record in that he never dismissed an employee. Some of his men had spent their lifetime in his service. “Cooplacurripa” station has had only two mangers in 55 years, the late Mr. Penfold and Mr. Robert Wilson.

Beef and wool were principal factors in his business whilst horse breeding was a favourite hobby. He was an expert on breeding, few men having a more thorough knowledge on that subject. Amongst his stallions were Beau Soult, Orby Anthus, Allured, Richard, Misty and Nurwarra Eliya. He also bred form Saladin and Kars, two well-known Arab horses. Many of the racing progeny proved useful gallopers such as Piaform, Boonerai, Piasroot, Barrierform, Goosalt, Gooloorai and Young George. Bonnie Gag who won a “double” in India last week was also one of his breeding. He was a member of the Australian Jockey Club.

Particularly proud was he of his Scotch terriers, a line of breeding which he maintained for 45 years. His love for animals and birds was great. He had all his properties proclaimed sanctuaries. He was also a tree-lover, preserving every good specimen and planting wherever possible. It was his ardent wish that there should be a large national park at the head of the Williams and Allyn in order to preserve for posterity some of the original brush which is disappearing so quickly. An area of 200 acres has now been set aside at the head of the Williams river for that purpose.

A typical Australian he had the gift of verse-making and many of his rhymes illustrated his understanding of humanity and his quiet sense of humour. So gentle of nature and with such a love of his fellow man, he could only see the good that was in them. A verse which he often quoted illustrated that beautiful trait of his character:

“Boys flying kites haul in their white-winged birds;

You can’t do that when you’re flying words.

Things that we think may sometimes fall back dead,

But God Himself can’t kill them when they’re said”.

One could truly say that he was “full of the milk of human kindness”. His advice was often sought, and the help that he gave was seldom known by anyone but the recipient.

Local sporting bodies owe a deep debt of gratitude to the late Mr. Mackay. He permitted the construction of the golf links and polo ground on his property and he himself built the track for the race club. Members of these bodies used their respective grounds without hindrance.

During his earlier years he travelled the back parts of this State and of Queensland, acquiring a great knowledge of the Australian native. He could speak several dialects and was honoured by several tribes by being asked to crown their Kings. As can be imagined, a conversation with a man so well versed in all spheres of life, high finance, sport, bush life, was something to be treasured.

The Funeral

Service was held at the residence on Friday afternoon, Rev J. W. McCredie officiating. The cortege then moved off to the Presbyterian portion of Dungog cemetery. Mr. McCredie paid a tribute to the memory of deceased in the presence of a large gathering at the graveside. The chief mourners were Messrs. W. H. Jnr., F. K., R. T. Mackay and Charles Hooke.

Amongst the employees present were Messrs. Robert Wilson (late Cuplacurripa), Ken Wilson (Bundook), D. Penfold (Boxtree), R. Breese (Raglan), A. G. Stewart (Number One), L. C. Darr (Bringlebar), J. Kirk (Durness), W. Tout (Coneac), W. Penfold (Eelagh) and R. Robson, B. Atkins, B. Gray, J. Giddey (all of “Cangon”).

Amongst others present were Hon. H. M. Wragge M.L.C. (Gunnedah), Mr. C. E. Bennett, M.L.A., Mr. R. W. Alison (Dungog A. & H. Association), Cr. C. T. Abbott (Stroud Shire President), Cr. J. B. Carlton ( Wallarobba Shire President), Ald. J. A. Jones (Dungog Municipality), Ald. A. J. McLeod (Dungog Golf Club), Mr. J. Coyle (Dungog Hospital), Mr. R. M. Cox (Dungog Race Club), Mr. M. Alison (Dungog Polo Club), Mr Henry Turner (Wingham), Mr. Ned De Warren (Taree), Mr. Ben Hooke (Mt. George), Messrs Alex and Murray Hooke (Taree), Messrs H. B. and G. C. Lethbridge (Australian Woolbrokers Co., Sydney), Mr. Thomas Laurie (Neutral Bay), Mr. A. B. Wilkinson (Neutral Bay), Mr. Spinney (Commonwealth Wool & Produce Co.,), Mr. Laurence (Malay States), Mr. Batty (Maitland), Mr. N. Pye (Pitt Son and Badgery), Mr. Bullock (Maitland), Mr. W. E. Sparke (Maitland), Mr. W. N. Dann (Maitland), Mr. C. N. Scott (Maitland), Mr. Hal Capper (Maitland), Mr O. J. Peters (Sydney), Mr. A. Wansey Snr., (Quirindi), Mr. Jack Sparke (Sydney), Mr. W. Reynolds (Gresford), Mr. Rex Reynolds (Grenfell), Cr. R. E. Zeininger (Tea Gardens), Mr. Jacob Hough (Tea Gardens), Mr. W. E. Searle (Dungog R.S. and S.I.L.), Mr. H. Ayling (Sydney), Mr. A. S. Bingle (Sydney), Mr. V. H. Richards (Sydney). The 16th Light Horse (Machine Gun) Regiment was represented by a selection in uniform.

Deep sympathy is extended to Mrs. Mackay and the relatives in their sad loss.

Beautiful floral tributes were received and the list of these will be published in the next issue.

Noted Pastoralist Dead

Mr. J. K. Mackay, of Dungog

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The death occurred at his residence “Cangon,” Dungog, on Wednesday night last, of Mr. John Kenneth Mackay, one of the oldest, best known and most respected residents of the district.

The late Mr. Mackay was the son of the late John Kenneth Mackay. Snr., and Mrs. Mackay, of “Cangon,” Dungog. He was born at bis late residence in 1857, and was almost 80 years of age. His early boyhood was spent at Cangon, and his whole life at Cangon and Gunnedah. The late Mr. Mackay had extensive grazing interests throughout N.S.W., embracing the western, northern, north-west and coastal districts, as well as parts of Queensland. His grazing properties are numerous, and include such well-known stations as Pullaming, in the Gunnedah district; Cooplacurrlpa, on the Upper Manning; and his headquarters, Cangon, Dungog.

Mr. Mackay married Miss Ellen Partridge. of Nymett, Devonshire, England, and is survived by his widow. His two nephews, Messrs. Ken and Bob Mackay, have lived with Mr. .and Mrs. Mackay all their lives. They are both well-known in the polo world. Miss Kitty Mackay, who represented Australia at the last Olympic Games, and who is one of Australia’s champion swimmers, is a niece of the late Mr. Mackay. Another well-known member of the Mackay family is a brother. Mr. William Hooke Mackay, Snr. well-known station owner and horse breeder, formerly of Anambah, and now residing in Sydney.

The late Mr. Mackay was a keen sportsman and a public benefactor. On his valuable property of Cangon, he allowed to be erected without any reward other than the pleasure he obtained from seeing others enjoy themselves, a polo ground, headquarters of Wirragulla Polo Club, a golf links, the home ground, of the Dungog Golf Club, and a racecourse.

He was a lover of birds, animals and trees, and all his properties were bird and animal sanctuaries, and it was no uncommon sight to see Mr. Mackay walking around his paddocks, carrying a bag or box of seed, distributing it to the birds.

Heart failure was the cause of death about 7 o’clock on Wednesday night. His passing was unexpected, and cast a gloom over the whole of the district. The funeral took place on Friday afternoon to the Presbyterian cemetery at Dungog.