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Mackenzies (Invershin)

Gilbert Mackenzie (d1832) was a merchant in Invershin, Sutherland, who was in financial difficulties from 1811, became bankrupt [London Gazette, 1832] and died in Tain. He married Hectorina Munro and the couple had eight children. [Genealogy of the families of Douglas of Mulderg and Robertson of Kindeace, Dingwall, 1895]

Their son Robert (b1793) was a lieutenant in the 60th Regiment of Foot, stationed in Demerara from 1814, who died on his way to Quebec in 1817 [Edinburgh Magazine, 1817].

Another son George died in Demerara in 1823 [Inverness Journal, August 1, 1823].

A third son, John (below), became a plantation owner on Leguan Island, in the Essequibo river.

John Mackenzie [14 March 1799-1854]

John married Isabella Munro, from Lealty in Ross-shire, and through her was related to the Macraes of Inverinate, who had extensive connections with Demerara (Isabella's grandmother, Madeline, was a sister of Alexander, Farquhar and Colin Macrae). The couple had three sons, Gilbert Proby [1848-90] and Donald George [1850-85] (both born in Leguan: 1861 census Inveresk), and Charles Tindall Grant (died young) [History of Clan Macrae, p106].

In 1851 John Mackenzie provided evidence on the decline of cultivation in Leguan after the emancipation of slaves:

From the termination of apprenticeship in 1838, this island has severely felt the want of labour. As soon as the people were at liberty to move where they pleased, great numbers left Leguan, and became free settlers on the East Coast and the banks of the Demerara river, in order to enjoy the greater facilities thus afforded them for communication with town. Then commenced the establishment of villages on the island itself, which quickly absorbed a number of the working people, for whom hunting and fishing have greater attractions than steady labour in the field. The general appearance of the island is thus summed up by Mr. John Mackenzie, of Plantation Amsterdam, who has been a resident planter for upwards of 30 years. “It is no overdrawn description, when I assert that its cultivation is now limited to one-third of its former number of estates, and these but struggling desperately to avoid that doom which seems inevitable. Forest trees rapidly taking the place of once smiling cane-fields, and the few of the latter that are left, scarcely discernible amid a savage bush.”  Accounts and papers of the House of Commons, 1851: Correspondence relating to the condition of sugar colonies

John Mackenzie was awarded compensation of £1,392 7s 3d for a group of 25 enslaved people in British Guiana. He made his own registration in British Guiana in 1832, but was in Britain to collect his compensation. [British Guiana no. 1160. John McKenzie registered 26 slaves 1832 T71/430 p 715] See also Legacies of British Slave-ownership.

In 1851 he was living at Grove End, Cockpen, Midlothian, with wife Isabella and his two children, Gilbert 3 and Donald 2. Also in the household was 16-year-old John McKenzie Turton, a nephew, born in Demerara, and a houseservant, Elizabeth Stow, from Montserrat.

John died in 1854 and by 1861, Isabella McKenzie was living at the White House, Inveresk, Midlothian with her two sons and two nephews, one (George Gaden Ross, born 1846, the son of her sister Christina Flora, who had married George Ross in Demerara) born Demerara.


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