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MACKAY, Hugh (1841-1927)

MACKAY, Hugh (1841-1927)

Hugh was the Scottish ‘boy’ who served under Dr Morrison and Mr Norman Morrison from 1865 to 1910 as personal attendant, confidant and groundsman. The fountain in the garden of Davey House is his memorial. Redmond in his Jubilee History described Hugh as follows: ‘Everybody who was at the College before 1911 knew Hugh. And Hugh knew them all, too, and remembered them. "Ah," I mind your face well, sir, but I just cannot recall the name," would be his reply, sometimes in these later years when someone who had been absent from the College for 20 or 30 years re¬visited it. Then Hugh would prove the accuracy of his memory. "Do you mind the day when I caught you in the garden after the pears," or "That was a grand fight ye had with So-and-So. I just stopped it in time." Hugh in the early 80's (1880s) was constituted fight-stopper by the Doctor. He was authorised to interfere and end every fight; but Hugh had a strong sporting sense, and he rarely appeared openly on the scene till all was over. When he did come "Cave, Hugh!" was the cry of the watchers, and the ring was speedily broken.

Hugh Mackay.

Jugh Mackay.

Hugh Mackay came to the College in 1865, three and a half years after it was established at Knowle House. He was born at Melrose, Scotland, on 1 September 1841. The Rev A J Campbell was the Free Church Minister at Melrose, and Hugh's father was the church officer. When the Rev Campbell came to Australia in 1859 he brought Hugh with him to act as his house-boy. Then, when Mr Morrison had need of a man upon whom he could depend Hugh, then 24 years of age, was transferred to him, and for nearly 50 years he continued to be the College henchman. His long service and close association with the Doctor gave him rights and privileges which no mere servant could ever have enjoyed.

He was a part of the College from the very beginning, for at the very first meeting convened by the Rev A J Campbell to discuss the need of a school, Hugh acted as clerk and took notes of the meeting. The Doctor and Hugh grew old together. The Morrison family grew up under Hugh's watchful eye. He was one of the Doctor's confidants. The Doctor would go into the garden where Hugh was at work, spread his handkerchief carefully on the ground, and then sitting down, would say, "Hugh, I want to have a chat with you." Then the two would discuss improvements and alterations. It was Hugh's persistence which finally induced the Doctor to buy the football paddock (Mackie Oval).

Hugh stayed at the College for more than a year after Norman Morrison's death. But the place was not the same to him. He had served the Morrison's for nearly 50 years. The College without a Morrison at the head of if seemed a lonely place at over 70 years of age. Even the presence of the third generation of Morrisons in the school could not remove that feeling, and Hugh, in 1911, took his first furlough, though when in Geelong he still spent a great deal of his time haunting the old familiar scenes.’ Hugh McKay was a noted worshipper with the early Presbyterian congregation at the Mechanics Hall and at St. George’s Presbyterian Church. He was appointed the First Church Officer when the new building was erected. A bird bath originally installed in the private garden of the Principal and moved to Davey House in about 1971 was named in Hugh’s memory.

Sources: Redmond, G McLeod. Geelong College: History, Register and Records Jubilee, 1911 page 55; Jubilee Souvenir of St George’s Presbyterian Church. Geelong: (St George’s Church), 1911.
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