Sir Richard Graves MacDonnell KCMG CB
麥當奴) (3 September 1814 – 5 February 1881) was
lawyer, judge and
colonial governor. His posts as governor included Governor of the British
in West Africa, Governor of Saint Vincent
Governor of South
, Governor of Nova Scotia
and Governor of Hong
R.G. MacDonnell was born in Dublin 8 September
1814, the second son of Rev. Richard MacDonnell, Provost of
Dublin, and Jane (1793-1882), the second daughter of
The Very Rev.
College, Dublin in 1830, elected a scholar
in 1833, and graduated B.A. in
1835, M.A. in 1836, LL.B. in 1845, and LL.D. in 1862.
Legal Career, Early Colonial Services
MacDonnell was called to the Irish bar in 1838, and to the English
bar, at Lincoln’s Inn on 25 January 1841. On 20 July 1843, he
was appointed chief justice of The Gambia, and on 1 October 1847, governor of the British
settlements on Gambia.
While holding that post, MacDonnell (a relation of Richard Francis Burton
) 'indulged his
passion for exploration and organised punitive campaigns against
unruly native tribes'. His expeditions opened up the interior of
Africa from the Gambia River to the Senegal
The military expeditions which he accompanied
against native tribes who had long oppressed the traders of the
river were a success.
(when he was also gazetted C.B.), he was nominated as lieutenant
governor of St.
Lucia, but without taking up the post he was sent on 10
January 1853 to become administrator and captain-general of the
island of St.
He was Lt.-General of St Vincent
Governor of South Australia
as a 'dominant personality' and having gained a reputation for
forthrightness and intolerance MacDonnell was appointed the sixth
Governor of South
Australia, arriving on
9 June 1855, taking over from Boyle
Finniss who had been acting since Henry
MacDonnell was soon involved in the debate
on the composition of the legislature; MacDonnell favoured a single
chamber while the majority of colonists preferred a two-house
system. Eventually a two-house system prevailed, although the upper
house had a property franchise. Difficulties between the governor
and officials led to several changes of government. In 1856 he had
been knighted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace.
aided in opening up the Murray River and in developing the resources of the
He left South Australia on 4 March 1862.
Governor of Nova Scotia
On the recommendation of his predecessor, George Phipps, 2nd
Marquess of Normanby
, MacDonnell was appointed Governor of Nova Scotia
from 28 May 1864 until October 1865. His arrival coincided with the
formation of the new Dominion of Canada, making his appointement
Governor of Hong Kong
On 19 October 1865, MacDonnell was appointed as the sixth Governor of Hong Kong
, a position in
which he served until 1872. During his tenure, MacDonnell developed
Peak, which would eventually become the premier
residential quarters in Hong Kong, accessible only to rich European
MacDonnell also ordered the construction of a
hospital which catered to the needs of the local Chinese
population. In addition, he legalized gambling in Hong Kong which
led to social problems and was later made illegal once again. In
1871 he was gazetted K.C.M.G.
Finally, MacDonnell's administration was marred by a huge budget
deficit, which resulted in the government asking the HSBC
for a financial aid package. The administration
was also damaged by the actions of the Canton Customs
agency, who patrolled the waters off Hong Kong and boarded ships to
search for smuggled goods.
This was called by Hong Kong's
British merchant community a blockade, and affected Hong Kong's
economy for the next 20 years.
Marriage and Retirement
MacDonnell married Blanche Ann, daughter of Francis Skurray of
Beckington, Somerset, who lived at Stanhope Place, Hyde
Park and Percy Cross Lodge, Fulham, before retiring to 5
Brunswick Square, Brighton. Sir Richard and Lady MacDonnell lived near
Park in London and after his retirement they spent much
time in Italy and France, dying at
Hyères, on 5
February 1881. They are buried in Kensal Green
Cemetery, and died without children.
Publications with his involvement
- The Church of the Future, an address by the Rev.
Thomas Binney in 1859
- Christian Union, as discussed by the Bishop of
- "Sir R. C. MacDonnell, &c.,, 1859
lecture on ‘Australia,’ Dublin,
Places named after him