William Alexander Mackinnon

2nd Aug 1784 - 30th Apr 1870

Claimant or beneficiary


Awarded part of the compensation for the enslaved people on Mackinnon's estate in Antigua.

Politician (Tory MP) & Chief of clan Mackinnon; b. 2 August 1784 in Dauphiné, France; eldest son of William Mackinnon and his wife, Harriet, daughter of Francis Frye of Antigua. Daniel Mackinnon (1791-1836) was his younger brother [Note a]. Attended St John's College, Cambridge; graduated BA 1804, MA 1807; then a student of Lincoln's Inn, but was not called to the bar.

1809: succeeded his grandfather, William Mackinnon, as chief of clan Mackinnon and inherited his estates. He was already wealthy from his father's success in the West Indies and used some of his money to buy back Mackinnon lands in Scotland. On 3 August 1812 he married Emma Mary (d. 1835), only daughter of Joseph Budworth Palmer [Note b] of Palmerstown, co. Mayo, "who was a great beauty and an even greater heiress"; three sons and three daughters. In due course he inherited the Palmer estates. [On the death of his wife.]

Held seats in Co. Mayo, Kent, Hampshire, Surrey as well as Scottish estates.

Died 1870 at Belvedere, Broadstairs, Kent (one of his properties) and was buried at another: Acrise Park, Kent.

His son William, a Liberal MP, succeeded him as chief of the clan. Another son, Daniel Lionel, killed at Battle of Inkerman (Crimean War, 5 November 1854). Grandson, Sir William Henry Mackinnon, an army officer in southern Africa.

Apart from being an MP, Mackinnon was a Colonization Commissioner for South Australia: see Imperial Legacies and other strands for more on his activities.

Note a: Army officer and historian (Origin and History of the Coldstream Guards [2 vols., 1832]); married 'Miss Dent' daughter of John Dent, MP for Poole, around 1826; entry in Oxford DNB. John Dent a West India interest MP.

Note b: Palmer (1756-1815) army officer then mainly known as a writer: frequent contributor to the Gentleman's Magazine and author of other works including A Fortnight's Ramble to the Lakes in Westmoreland, Lancashire, and Cumberland (1792; 2nd edn, 1795; 3rd edn, 1810); by marriage to Elizabeth Palmer inherited Palmer estates in Co. Mayo, and the name Palmer, when her brother Roger Palmer died in 1811. See Oxford DNB entry for him.

Left £100,000 at death.

The portrait of Mackinnon is from the National Portrait Gallery: NPG D7664. It is an undated lithograph by an unknown artist.


T71/877 Antigua claim no. 35 (Mackinnon's Estate).

Oxford DNB (H. C. G. Matthew) [Follows Times obituary]; see also R. G. Thorne (ed.), The House of Commons, 1790-1820 (5 vols., London, Secker & Warburg for the History of Parliament Trust, 1986), vol. 4, p. 498. Some of the detail in the Oxford DNB repeats that in Thorne; obituaries in The Scotsman, 3 May 1870 and Times 03/051870.

William D. Rubinstein, Who were the rich? 1860- (Volumes 3 and 4, manuscripts in preparation), reference 1870/68.

Further Information

Emma Mary Palmer
3 sons and 3 daughters

Under £100,000: probate, 17 May 1870, CGPLA Eng. & Wales; source: Oxford DNB (H. C. G. Matthew)


Wealth at death
Politician and landowner
Oxford DNB Entry

Associated Claims (1)

£3,942 2s 1d

Associated Estates (1)

The dates listed below have different categories as denoted by the letters in the brackets following each date. Here is a key to explain those letter codes:

  • SD - Association Start Date
  • SY - Association Start Year
  • EA - Earliest Known Association
  • ED - Association End Date
  • EY - Association End Year
  • LA - Latest Known Association
1809 [SY] - 1834 [LA] → Joint owner

Legacies Summary

Commercial (5)

notes →
No details known of Mackinnon's directorship of the Elam Valley Railway Company; he appeared as a witness in a case against an employee accused of...

Cultural (8)

Association for the Encouragement of Literature...... 
Committee member
Committee to afford immediate relief to the Clergy of Ireland...... 
Ordinary member
Highland Society of Scotland at Edinburgh...... 
notes →
For membership of the Highland Society: Caledonian Mercury [Edinburgh], 4 July 1811 (and The Aberdeen Journal, 10 July 1811 <font...
Royal Asiatic Society...... 
notes →
Dates of Fellowship not...
Royal Geographical Society...... 
notes →
Dates of Fellowship not...
Royal Society...... 
notes →
For the full record of Mackinnon's membership of the Royal Society see Royal...
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals...... 
notes →
Mackinnon chairman of the SPCA [dates?]; in 1837 said: 'I cannot but think that benevolence to our species, and humanity to the brute creation, go hand in hand, and that it is...
Society of Antiquaries...... 
notes →
Dates of membership of Soc of Antiquaries not...

Historical (3)

On the Rise, Progress, and Present State of Public Opinion, in Great Britain and other parts of the... 1828 
notes →
Full text available at [Google...
Remarks on the question of again permitting the issue of one pound notes by the Bank of England, and also by country... 1830 
notes →
93pp.; Copy available in Goldsmiths-Kress collection (University of London, Senate House...
History of... 1846 
notes →
A rewrite of his earlier work On Public Opinion (1828). Both volumes available on Google books: [vol...

Imperial (1)

Colonization Commissioner
Australia: South Australia 
notes →
Mackinnon was a signatory of the Third annual report of the Colonization Commissioners (Parliamentary Papers 1839 (255) XVII) but not of the others; (there were four in all). The...

Political (1)

election →
Dunwich Suffolk
1819 - 1820
election →
Lymington Hampshire
1831 - 1832
election →
Lymington Hampshire
1835 - 1852
election →
Rye Sussex
1853 - 1865
parliamentary notes →
Parliamentary Reform - Bill for England - Third Reading - Adjourned Debate - Third Day
House of Commons 22/03/1832
parliamentary notes →
Parliamentary Reform - Bill for England - Third Reading - Adjourned Debate
House of Commons 20/03/1832

Relationships (10)

Nephew → Aunt
Grandson → Grandfather
Nephew → Aunt
Husband → Wife
Marriage Details →
3rd Aug 1812
Nephew → Aunt
Grandson → Grandfather
Nephew → Aunt
First Cousins
Nephew → Uncle
First Cousins

Addresses (2)

4 Hyde Park Place, Hyde Park, London, Middlesex, London, England
Portswood, Hampshire, Wessex, England