O'CONNELL, Sir Maurice Charles the elder (1768-1848)


O'CONNELL, Sir Maurice Charles the elder (1768-1848)
commander of forces and lieutenant-governor of New South Wales
was born in Ireland in 1768 (Aust. Ency.). He had had a distinguished career in the army when he came with Macquarie (q.v.) to New South Wales in charge of the 73rd regiment. He also had a commission as lieutenant-governor, and so acted when Macquarie was absent in Tasmania in the latter part of 1812. O'Connell was then on good terms with Macquarie, who, in November of that year, strongly recommended that his salary should be considerably increased. O'Connell had married in May 1810 Mrs Putland, a daughter of Bligh (q.v.), who had not forgiven the members of the party that had deposed her father. O'Connell became involved in the quarrel and in August 1813 Macquarie in a dispatch to Lord Bathurst stated that, "though lieutenant-colonel O'Connell is naturally a very well disposed man . . . it would greatly improve the harmony of the country . . . if the whole of the officers and men of the 73 regiment were removed from it". On 26 March 1814 O'Connell and his regiment were transferred to Ceylon. He attained the rank of major-general in 1830, was knighted in 1835, and in 1838 returned to Sydney in command of the forces. He was senior member of the executive council when, the question of the rights of Bligh's daughters to certain land granted to Bligh in 1806 having been again raised, Governor Gipps (q.v.) found himself in an extremely delicate position. The matter was settled by compromise in 1841. O'Connell was acting-governor of New South Wales from 12 July to 2 August 1846, and died at Sydney on 25 May 1848. He has been given by some authorities a third Christian name, "Philip", but this does not appear in references to him in the Historical Records of Australia, in W. A. Shaw's The Knights of England, or in the notice of his death in the Sydney Morning Herald for 26 May 1848. His son, Sir Maurice Charles O'Connell, the younger, is noticed separately.
J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; The Gentleman's Magazine, November 1848, p. 543; Historical Records of Australia, vols. VII, VIII, and XX.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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