Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer

4

1803 Pattern British Infantry Officer's sword and scabbard of New South Wales Colonial Governor Lachlan Macquarie

1993.0005.0001

1803 Pattern British Infantry Officer's sword and scabbard of New South Wales Colonial Governor Lachlan Macquarie

Object information

Physical description

1803 Pattern British Infantry Officer's sword that has a deeply curved unfullered single-edged blade. The blade is etched along half its length with designs including a crown that surmounts the Prince of Wales plumes and motto, and crossed pikes with halberd, all interspersed with floral motifs. The flat back of the blade is marked 'J J Runkel, Solingin'. The hand grip is of wood covered in fishskin bound with wire, and it is capped by a lion's head pommel. It is guarded by a squarish gilded brass half basket hilt, composed of a cross guard linked to the pommel by a knuckle bow and two curved bars. The number of Macquarie's regiment '73' is engraved in a disk on the knuckle bow, and the bars of the hilt frame a large thistle in relief, a symbol that was popular with Scottish highland regiments. The blade has been damaged or repaired about 75mm from the tip. The sword has a curved black leather sword scabbard with three gilded brass mounts, including a locket or throat with a frog button, a middle band mount with a carrying ring about a third of the way down the scabbard, and a relatively long chape.

Statement of significance

The Alexander Ferguson Collection consists of a 1803 Pattern British Infantry Officer's sword and scabbard, a dirk, scabbard, by-knife and fork and a black leather scabbard belonging to and used by Lieutenant-Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821. The regimental sword was purchased by Macquarie after serving in North America, India and Egypt, before his appointment to the colony of New South Wales. It reflects his Scottish heritage with a decorative thistle relief. The number of his new regiment, the 73rd, is engraved on the main knuckle-bow. Dirks were worn by senior officers of Scottish regiments as clan insignia.

Lachlan Macquarie is a key figure in the development of the colony of New South Wales. He was chose to replace Governor William Bligh and began his term on 1st January 1810. Over the next decade he transformed the colony's infrastructure, economy and prospects. His determination to rehabilitate the social status of 'reformed' convicts won him powerful enemies in the colony and in Britain, and in 1822 he sailed for London to defend himself against his critics. Fearing that his achievements would be eclipsed by the 'false, vindictive and malicious' report of the Bigge Commission, Macquarie battled to salvage his reputation. He died in London on 1 July 1824, two months after a grueling journey from Scotland to secure his pension

Educational significance

This is a sword and scabbard which belonged to Lieutenant Colonel Lachlan Macquarie, governor of the colony of New South Wales from the end of the Rum Rebellion in 1810 to 1821. It has the 1803 pattern of a Scottish Infantry Officer's sword. The sword was carried in a gilt brass mounted, black leather scabbard. The sword was made at Solingen in Germany and imported for sale by John Justus Runkel around 1805.

Lachlan Macquarie (1762-1824) was a career soldier who had served in North America, India and Egypt. In October 1807 he returned to Britain and purchased his regimental sword from John Justus Runkel, before travelling north to become lieutenant-colonel of the 73rd regiment. At this time, military and naval officers purchased their own swords, guided only by personal taste and cost, and Macquarie celebrated his Scottish heritage by choosing a sword with a Scottish-type or half-basket hilt with a decorative thistle relief and the number of his new regiment engraved on the main knuckle-bow.

In late 1808, the 73rd regiment was chosen to replace the mutinous New South Wales Corps, and after successful lobbying, Macquarie was appointed as Governor Bligh's replacement in April 1809. Before sailing, he received confidential instructions from Lord Castlereagh requiring him: 'to improve the Morals of the colonists, to encourage Marriage, to provide for Education, to prohibit the Use of Spirituous Liquors, [and] to increase the Agriculture and Stock, so as to ensure the Certainty of a full supply to the Inhabitants under all Circumstances'.

Macquarie began his term as Governor of New South Wales on 1 January 1810 and over the next decade he transformed the colony's infrastructure, economy and prospects. His determination to rehabilitate the social status of 'reformed' convicts won him powerful enemies in the colony and in Britain, and in 1822 he sailed for London to defend himself against his critics. Fearing that his achievements would be eclipsed by the 'false, vindictive and malicious' report of the Bigge Commission, Macquarie battled to salvage his reputation and died in London on 1 July 1824, two months after a gruelling journey from Scotland to secure his pension.

Object information

When

Who

Where

  • Associated place

  • England
    Apply England filter
  • Macquarie was commanding the 73rd Regiment (Scottish) of the British Army during his appointment as Governor of New South Wales

Back to top