MACKELLAR, Sir Charles Kinnaird (1844-1926)

MACKELLAR, Sir Charles Kinnaird (1844-1926)
physician and public man
son of Dr Frank Mackellar, was born at Sydney, on 5 December 1844. He was educated at Sydney grammar school and on leaving school had some experience on a station. About 1866 he went to Glasgow, did a distinguished course, and graduated M.B., Ch.M. in 1871. On returning to Australia he again went on the land, but in 1875 went to Sydney and established a very successful practice as a physician. In 1882 he was appointed the first president of the newly formed board of health, which brought him in touch with the poor of Sydney and the conditions in which they lived. He took much interest in his new position, and gave the department an excellent start. He resigned his office in 1885, and in the following year was nominated to the legislative council of New South Wales. He was vice-president of the executive council in the Jennings (q.v.) ministry from February to December 1886, and then minister for justice until the government was defeated on 19 January 1887. But though a good administrator, Mackellar was not a party man, and possibly for that reason did not hold parliamentary office again. In 1903 Mackellar was appointed a federal senator when R. E. O'Connor (q.v.) was made a judge of the high court. He found, however, that he had too many interests in Sydney to be able to spare the time to attend the sittings which were then held at Melbourne, and not long afterwards resumed his seat in the legislative council of New South Wales. He had been chosen as president of a royal commission on the decline of the birth rate, and was largely responsible for the admirable report that was issued. He had for some time been interested in the care of delinquent and mentally deficient children and in 1902 was appointed president of the state children's relief department. He published this year as a pamphlet, Parental Rights and Parental Responsibility, which was followed in 1907 by a thoughtful short treatise, The Child, The Law, and the State, an account of the progress of reform of the laws affecting children in New South Wales, with suggestions for their amendment and more humane and effective application. His little book was wise and statesmanlike; Mackellar was no mere visionary, he recognized that there were times when punishment was the only remedy, but he felt strongly that little good would be done by punishing a child for acts which were merely the results of his environment, and that children could not be given the influence of a good home by being herded in barracks or reformatories. In 1912 he visited Europe and the United States to study the methods of treatment of delinquent and neglected children, and issued a valuable report on his return in 1913. He resigned his presidency of the state children's relief board in 1916, being then in his seventy-second year. He still, however, retained his interest and in 1917 published an open letter to the minister of public health on "The Mother, the Baby, and the State", and a pamphlet on Mental Deficiency, in which his clear grasp of the subject was still apparent. He died at Sydney, on 14 July 1926. He was knighted in 1912 and created K.C.M.G. in 1916. He married in 1877, Marion, daughter of Thomas Buckland, who survived him with two sons and a daughter.
Mackellar was a good companion and a staunch friend, kindly and just in all life's relations. He was a combination of sound business man and altruist, and his social work in New South Wales had far-reaching consequences for good. His daughter, Dorothea Mackellar, did distinguished work as a poet and prose-writer. A list of her books will be found in Miller's Australian Literature.
The Medical journal of Australia, 7 August 1926; The Sydney Morning Herald, 15 July 1926; Debrett's Peerage, etc., 1926.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Charles Mackellar — Sir Charles Mackellar KCMG Senator for New South Wales In office 8 October 1903 – 30 November …   Wikipedia

  • Mackellar — /məˈkɛlə/ (say muh keluh) noun 1. Sir Charles Kinnaird, 1844–1926, Australian physician and sociologist. 2. his daughter, (Isobel Marion) Dorothea, 1885–1968, Australian poet; author of My Country (1908). Dorothea Mackellar was born in Sydney.… …  

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