Captain John Macarthur – Father of Australia’s Wine & Wool Industries (1767 – 1834)

John Macarthur is one of Clan Arthur's most famous individuals. He first set foot in Australia in June 1790, when he arrived at Sydney, as a Lieutenant in the 102nd Foot or New South Wales Corps(1), accompanied by his wife and baby son. John was destined to become known as the Father of the Colony of New South Wales and the Father of the Australian wool industry, having imported Merino sheep into Australia.

A good deal has been written about his life, but what do we know of his descent?

He was baptised on 3 September 1767 at Stoke Damerel, in Devon, England, son of Alexander Macarthur and his wife Catherine(2). Alexander is said to have fought at the Battle of Culloden, after which he fled to the West Indies where he stayed for a short time, then settled in England. Not only was Alexander reported to have fought at Culloden, but also his father and six brothers!

Alexander had at least two other children, James, baptised on 20 January 1752 at Guildhall Street Independent and Presbyterian Church in Canterbury, Kent(2) and William, who was baptised at Stoke Damerel on 27 August 1770(3) and died young. Catherine was buried on 31 August 1777 at Stoke Damerel(4), where Alexander was also buried, but not until 23 September 1790(4).

As far as Alexander's brothers are concerned, one, unnamed, was reported to have been killed at Culloden, the survivors being Charles and four others, whose names are not known. Some information on their descendants is given in Burke's Colonial Gentry, but needs a great deal of research to verify and expand upon. Two sons of Charles are mentioned, namely Charles and Duncan. Duncan is identified as the individual who became a naval surgeon and eventually a physician to the fleet. He attended as one of the doctors at the death of the Duke of Wellington. This identification is certainly not correct, since this Duncan, to whom I am related, was baptised in Glasgow in 1773, son of Duncan, a gardener(5). It is possible that the father might be the son of Charles and the dates are consistent with this.

Of the other four brothers, one is said to have emigrated to North America, one had a grandson described as 'Macarthur of Little Mill,' another had a grandson 'Macarthur of Hinton' and one, who lived in Perthshire, had a grandson who became a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

'Macarthur of Hinton' is identified as John Macarthur (1755-1840) who, having joined the Navy, became a purser, secretary to Admiral Hood and wrote a number of works including (with James Stanier Clarke) a "Life of Admiral Lord Nelson."

I have not yet conducted any in depth research into this family, but it may be possible to discover a good deal more if sufficient time could be spent pursuing this. Some readers may well have information which they could contribute on this branch of the Clan, which would of course be very welcome.

Source: Burke's Colonial Gentry, except as otherwise referenced.
(1) Dictionary of National Biography
(2) Parish Register entries in International Genealogical Index
(3) Personal Web site -
(4) Personal Web site -
(5) Parish Register, Glasgow

Article courtesy of:
Graham S. Holton