Macquarie's corner connections


Convict descendant Janelle Collins visited the Hyde Park Barracks on Sunday 3 August and joined the Macquarie’s Corner Tour.  

The tour group of 14 included some local and a number of international visitors from the United Kingdom, The United States of America and Hong Kong who, along with me, enjoyed hearing about her special connection to Lachlan Macquarie.  

Her ancestor Esther Spencer was married to Governor Macquarie’s coachman Joseph Bigg and Janelle related a family story to the group.

On 6 October 1814 Bigg accidently ran over and killed a young boy aged three named Charles Thomas, while driving Mrs Macquarie in her curricle (a two wheeled open horse drawn carriage) along George Street, Sydney. A coronial inquest followed and Joseph Bigg was cleared of any charges of negligence or reckless driving. Elizabeth Macquarie was so distressed by the experience that she suffered a nervous collapse that confined her to bed for several weeks. She held Joseph Bigg in high regard and in a letter written to Charles Whalan dated February 13 1831 sent from Aberdeen in Scotland she wrote:  

"...If you ever see Joseph Biggs tell him that we never fail to enquire after him, that we often think of him; and if a letter could be of any service, he should have one long ago. That Lachlan is a good horseman and whip; and has not forgotten his first master's instructions.”

Janelle is a self-confessed family-tree-aholic and has been researching her family history for 25 years or more, creating a blog to share her research. If you would like to find out more about Janelle's ancestor Esther Spencer you can read more on her blog:

After the tour Janelle impressed our weekend staff by making her very own Hyde Park Barracks souvenir earrings from our coin minting machine.


Letter. Elizabeth Macquarie to Charles Whalan. Whalan Papers, MSS 6/1, ff.29 - 32. (Mitchell Library, Sydney).

Head and shoulders of woman standing next to brick wall.
Janelle Collins, convict descendant, at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum. Photo Amy Armour, Sydney Living Museums

About the Author

Portrait photo of young woman
Amy Armour
Visitor Interpretation Officer
Amy Armour is a visitor interpretation officer in the Macquarie Street Portfolio, which includes Hyde Park Barracks Museum and The Mint.

Group of people standing in front of a 'National Trust Awards' sign.


SLM wins multiple National Trust AwardsFriday 28 April 2017

 Today the Sydney Living Museums team was very excited to take away several awards at the annual National Trust Heritage Awards at Doltone House.The awards were for:...

Employment Opportunity promo tile


17/SE001 Head of Experience & LearningFriday 28 April 2017

Carved wooden chair closeup.

The Cook and the Curator

A chair’s taleThursday 27 April 2017

The Sydney Culture Essays media launch with Premier Gladys Berejiklian

New online

Heritage in the City's FutureFriday 21 April 2017

Circular badge with 5 pointed star motif with letters ANZAC on each point.


WW1 stories from our museumsThursday 20 April 2017

To mark the 1914–18 centenary of World War 1, Sydney Living Museums has developed a special mini-website exploring the wartime engagement of individual men and women associated with our historic places.