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Joseph BIGG

(or Big, Bigge, Biggs)

(1768 - 1833)

Lachlan Macquarie's coachman.

The Macquaries brought at least five (5) servants with them to Australia in 1809: George Jarvis (manservant), Mrs. Ovens (cook), Robert Fopp (butler), Mrs. Jones (waiting woman for Elizabeth Macquarie) and Joseph Bigg. These servants accompanied them on the voyage on the Dromedary in 1809 - although Mrs. Jones left her employment in Rio de Janeiro for an unspecified reason.

Prior to his employment with Macquarie, Bigg was, for a number of years, a coachman in London to Mr. Stephen Rolleston of the Foreign Office [Second Chief Clerk (1804-1817) and First Chief Clerk (1817-1824)].

Joseph Bigg drove Macquarie's coach during the governor's tours of inspection to the Cowpastures in 1810, Bathurst in 1815, Mittagong and Goulburn in 1820, and assisted during the trips to Newcastle in 1818, and Van Dieman's Land, Newcastle, and Port Macquarie in 1821.

At midday on 6 October 1814 Bigg accidentally ran over and killed a small child, Charles Thomas, aged three, (son of William Thomas) while driving Mrs. Macquarie in her curricle in George Street, Sydney. He was cleared of any charges of negligence or reckless driving by a coronial inquest convened by J.W. Lewin. However, Elizabeth Macquarie was so traumatised by the experience that she suffered a nervous collapse that confined her to bed for several weeks.

As a free settler Bigg initially received land at Bathurst in 1815, and later at Prospect in 1819 and 1822, as well as receiving cattle from the Government Herds in 1814, 1816, and 1819.

After the Macquaries departure Bigg established a livery stable in Phillip Street, Sydney. Elizabeth Macquarie continued to ask after him to her friends in New South Wales, and in a letter (from Aberdeen, Scotland) addressed to Charles Whalan dated 13 February 1831 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. We hear that he doesn't look quite so young as when we first left him. I hope he will get wise in his old days and take better care of himself."

Joseph Bigg died on 27 July 1833, aged 65.

Primary Sources:

Letter. Elizabeth Macquarie to Charles Whalan. Whalan Papers, MSS 6/1, ff.29 - 32. (Mitchell Library, Sydney).
'Macquarie to Goulburn' 15 December 1817 and 'Inquest on the Body of Charles Thomas, an Infant' Historical Records of Australia 1:9 pp.733-734 and 737-738.
Sydney Gazette 8 October 1814 p.2a.

Secondary Sources:
The Records of the Foreign Office 1782-1939. London: HMSO, 1969 p.17. and Appendix 1 p.154
Ritchie, John. Lachlan Macquarie: a biography. Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1986.

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