Sir Thomas Brisbane, 1st Bt
|6th Governor of New South Wales|
1 December 1821 –1 December 1825
|Preceded by||Lachlan Macquarie|
|Succeeded by||Ralph Darling|
|Born||23 July 1773|
|Died||27 January 1860 86) (aged|
|Alma mater||University of Edinburgh|
|Battles/wars|| Peninsular War |
War of 1812
|Awards|| Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath |
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Guelphic Order
Army Gold Cross
Major General Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane,1st Baronet, GCB , GCH , FRS , FRSE (23 July 1773 –27 January 1860),was a British Army officer,administrator,and astronomer. Upon the recommendation of the Duke of Wellington,with whom he had served,he was appointed governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825.
A keen astronomer,he built the colony's second observatory and encouraged scientific and agricultural training. Rivals besmirched his reputation and the British Secretary of State for the Colonies,Lord Bathurst,recalled Brisbane and his colonial secretary Frederick Goulburn. Brisbane,a new convict settlement,was named in his honour and is now the 3rd largest city in Australia.
Brisbane was born at Brisbane House in Noddsdale,near Largs in Ayrshire,Scotland,the son of Sir Thomas Brisbane and his wife Eleanora (née Bruce). He was educated in astronomy and mathematics at the University of Edinburgh. He joined the British Army's 38th (1st Staffordshire) Regiment of Foot in 1789 and had a distinguished career in Flanders,the West Indies,Spain and North America. He served under the Duke of Wellington,and in 1813 he was promoted to major general. He saw much action during the Peninsular War,including leading a brigade in the 3rd Division that broke through at the Battle of Vitoria. He continued as a brigade commander in the War of 1812,where in 1814 he led a brigade at the Battle of Plattsburgh,which Brisbane claimed they could have won if they had been allowed to launch a full infantry attack. 
During the battle,he used the Charles C. Platt Homestead as his headquarters.  For his services in the Peninsula,Brisbane received the Army Gold Cross with one clasp for the battles of Vitoria,the Pyrenees,Nivelle,Orthez,and Toulouse;and the silver war medal with one clasp for the Nive.
In November 1819 he married Anna Maria Hay Makdougall of Makerstoun,Roxburghshire,Scotland. On his father-in-law's death,Brisbane assumed the additional surname,becoming Makdougall Brisbane. 
In 1821,on the recommendation of Wellington,Brisbane was appointed Governor of New South Wales,a post he held until 1825. Brisbane took over the government on 1 December 1821,and at once proceeded to carry out some of the reforms recommended in the report of John Bigge. While Governor he tackled the many problems of a rapidly growing and expanding colony. He worked to improve the land grants system and to reform the currency.
Brisbane's keen interest in science led him to accept the invitation to become the first President of the Philosophical Society of Australasia that later became the Royal Society of New South Wales. He also set up the first agricultural training college in New South Wales and was the first patron of the New South Wales Agricultural Society. He conducted experiments in growing tobacco,cotton,coffee and New Zealand flax in the colony.
However,Brisbane did not always receive loyal support from his administrative officers,and in particular from Frederick Goulburn,the colonial secretary. A reference to Brisbane's dispatch to Earl Bathurst dated 14 May 1825 shows that Bigge's recommendations had been carefully considered,and that many improvements had been made.  Brisbane did not limit his attention to Bigge's report.
Early in April 1822,he discovered with some surprise the ease with which grants of land had hitherto been obtained. He immediately introduced a new system under which every grant had the stipulation that for every 100 acres (400,000 m2) granted the grantee would maintain free of expense to the crown one convict labourer. He also encouraged agriculture on government land,streamlined granting of tickets of leave and pardons and introduced,in 1823,a system of calling for supplies by tender. When Dr. Robert Wardell and William Wentworth brought out their paper the Australian in 1824,Brisbane tried the experiment of allowing full latitude of the freedom of the press.
In 1823,Brisbane sent Lieutenant John Oxley to find a new site for convicts who were repeat offenders. Oxley discovered a large river flowing into Moreton Bay. A year later,the first convicts arrived at Moreton Bay. Brisbane visited the settlement in December 1824. Oxley suggested that both the river and the settlement be named after Brisbane. The convict settlement was declared a town in 1834 and opened to free settlement in 1839.
Brisbane was doing useful work,but he could not escape the effects of the constant faction fights which also plagued previous governors. Henry G. Douglass,the assistant-surgeon,was the centre of one of the bitter conflicts. Consequently,charges of various kinds against Brisbane were sent to England. The worst of these,that he had connived at sending female convicts to Emu Plains for immoral purposes,was investigated by William Stewart,the lieutenant-governor,John Stephen,assistant judge,and the Rev. William Cowper,senior assistant-chaplain,and found to be without the slightest foundation.
Brisbane discovered that Goulburn,the colonial secretary,had been withholding documents from him and answering some without reference to the governor,and in 1824 reported his conduct to Lord Bathurst. In reply,Bathurst recalled both the governor and the colonial secretary in dispatches dated 29 December 1824.
Brisbane was a keen astronomer throughout his career. He had an observatory built at his ancestral home in 1808. From this observatory he was able to contribute to the advances in navigation which took place over the next hundred years. He took telescopes,books and two astronomical assistants,Carl Ludwig Christian Rümker and James Dunlop to New South Wales with him. On arrival he had the first properly-equipped Australian observatory built at Parramatta while waiting for his predecessor,Governor Macquarie to complete his final arrangements.
The Parramatta observatory recorded stars of the southern hemisphere,the first detailed observations from the continent. Its major contribution was Rümker's rediscovery of Encke's comet in 1822. Brisbane left his equipment and books in the colony when he returned to Scotland. Remnants of this collection survive in the Sydney Observatory.
Brisbane left Sydney in December 1825 and returned to Scotland. In 1826 he was made Colonel of the 34th (Cumberland) Regiment of Foot. He added the name of Makdougall before Brisbane,and settled down to the life of a country gentleman and took interest in science,his estate,and his regiment. He was elected president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1832) following the death of Sir Walter Scott,and in 1836 he was created a baronet.  In the same year he was offered the command of the troops stationed in Canada and two years later the chief command in India,but declined both. He continued his astronomical researches,and did valuable work.
He was the first patron of science in Australia,and as such was eulogised by Sir John Herschel when he presented Brisbane with the gold medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1828. Oxford and Cambridge universities gave him the honorary degree of DCL,and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Societies of both London and Edinburgh. He was created Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1814 and Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in 1837.
In 1828,he won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. He published The Brisbane Catalogue of 7,385 stars of the Southern Hemisphere in 1835. The Observatory was used until 1855.
When Brisbane returned to Scotland he continued his studies and built a further observatory on his wife's estate,Makerstoun,near Kelso in the Borders. He was a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received its Keith Medal in 1848. In 1833 he acted as president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. He founded a gold medal for the encouragement of scientific research to be awarded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Brisbane died on 27 January 1860 in Largs. His four children predeceased him. He is buried in the Brisbane Aisle Vault,which is in the small kirkyard next to the remains of Largs Old Kirk (known as Skelmorlie Aisle).
The following features are named after Thomas Brisbane:
Many other uses of Brisbane derive from the Australian city and hence are indirectly named after Thomas Brisbane.
This article includes a list of general references, but it lacks sufficient corresponding inline citations .(April 2009)
John Joseph William Molesworth Oxley was an explorer and surveyor of Australia in the early period of British colonisation. He served as Surveyor General of New South Wales and is perhaps best known for his two expeditions into the interior of New South Wales and his exploration of the Tweed River and the Brisbane River in what is now the state of Queensland.
Major General Lachlan Macquarie, CB was a British Army officer and colonial administrator from Scotland. Macquarie served as the fifth Governor of New South Wales from 1810 to 1821, and had a leading role in the social, economic, and architectural development of the colony. He is considered by historians to have had a crucial influence on the transition of New South Wales from a penal colony to a free settlement and therefore to have played a major role in the shaping of Australian society in the early nineteenth century.
The Royal Society of Edinburgh is Scotland's national academy of science and letters. It is a registered charity that operates on a wholly independent and non-partisan basis and provides public benefit throughout Scotland. It was established in 1783. As of 2021, there are around 1,800 Fellows.
D'Arcy Wentworth was an Irish surgeon, the first paying passenger to arrive in the new colony of New South Wales. He served under the first seven governors of the Colony, and from 1810 to 1821, he was great assistant to Governor Lachlan Macquarie. Wentworth led a campaign for the rights and recognition of emancipists and for trial by jury.
Carl Ludwig Christian Rümker was a German astronomer.
The Nineteen Counties were the limits of location in the colony of New South Wales, Australia. Settlers were permitted to take up land only within the counties due to the dangers in the wilderness.
John Thomas Bigge was an English judge and royal commissioner. He is mostly known for his inquiry into the British colony of New South Wales published in the early 1820s. His reports favoured a return to the harsh treatment of convicts and the utilisation of them as cheap agricultural labour for wealthy sheep-farming colonists. Bigge's reports also resulted in the resignation of Governor Lachlan Macquarie whose policies promoted the advancement of ex-convicts back into society.
James Dunlop FRSE was a Scottish astronomer, noted for his work in Australia. He was employed by Sir Thomas Brisbane to work as astronomer's assistant at his private observatory, once located at Paramatta, New South Wales, about 23 kilometres (14 mi) west of Sydney during the 1820s and 1830s. Dunlop was mostly a visual observer, doing stellar astrometry work for Brisbane, and after its completion, then independently discovered and catalogued many new telescopic southern double stars and deep-sky objects. He later became the Superintendent of Paramatta Observatory when it was finally sold to the New South Wales Government.
Sir Francis William Forbes was a Chief Justice of Newfoundland, and the first Chief Justice of New South Wales.
Robert Harald Lindsay Dixon (1800–1858) was an Australian surveyor and explorer, born in Cockfield, County Durham, England.
The Supreme Court of Civil Judicature of New South Wales was a court established in the early 19th century in the colony of New South Wales. The colony was subsequently to become a state of Australia in 1901. The court had jurisdiction to deal with civil disputes where the amount in dispute in the colony was more than £50 sterling. The Supreme Court of New South Wales replaced the court in 1823 when the Supreme Court was created by the Third Charter of Justice.
The Old Government House is a heritage-listed former "country" residence used by ten early governors of New South Wales between 1800 and 1847, located in Parramatta Park in Parramatta, New South Wales, in the greater metropolitan area of Western Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is considered a property of national and international significance as an archaeological resource. It also serves to demonstrate how the British Empire expanded and Australian society has evolved since 1788.
The Bathurst rebellion of 1830 was an outbreak of bushranging near Bathurst in the British penal colony of New South Wales.
The Brisbane Aisle is a small 17th century free-standing burial vault, built for the Shaws of Kelsoland and situated in the grounds of the 'Largs Old Kirk', Largs, Ayrshire, Scotland.
The Astronomical Society of Glasgow (ASG) was founded in 1954 in Glasgow, Scotland, by amateur astronomers and is dedicated to promoting an interest in Astronomy.
Frederick Goulburn was a British army officer and the first Colonial Secretary of New South Wales.
John Welsh FRS (1824–1859) was a Scottish meteorologist.
Thomas Hassall was an Anglican clergyman and the first Australian candidate for ordination. Hassall opened the first Sunday School in Australia in 1813 in his father's house at Parramatta.
European land exploration of Australia deals with the opening up of the interior of Australia to European settlement which occurred gradually throughout the colonial period, 1788–1900. A number of these explorers are very well known, such as Burke and Wills who are well known for their failed attempt to cross the interior of Australia, as well as Hamilton Hume and Charles Sturt.
Major Hugh Scott of Gala FRSE DL JP (1822–1877) was a 19th-century Scottish soldier.