Thomas Bassett Macaulay

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Thomas Bassett Macaulay, also known as T. B. Macaulay, (6 June 1860–1942) was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. He was a noted actuary of his era; a philanthropist; and was the founder of the Macaulay Institute, in 1930. It has been estimated that most of the world's Holstein cattle descend from Macaulay's herd.


Thomas Bassett Macaulay was the son of the Scottish born Robertson Macaulay (1833–1915), who emigrated to Canada in 1854.[1] The family were descendants of the Macaulay family of Lewis, and were patrilineal descendants of the 17th century Uig folk-hero Donald Cam Macaulay.[2] Robertson Macaulay married Barbara Marie Reid, and moved his family to Montreal, Quebec, Canada when he was offered a position there with Sun Life Assurance Company.[1] He joined as a secretary in 1874; by 1889 he had worked his way up to president.[1][3]


Thomas Bassett Macaulay graduated high school and joined Sun Life at the age of 17. For the next forty years he worked for the company as actuary (aged 20), secretary, managing director (46), president (55).[1][3] He served as president for 20 years, before his retirement as chairman.[1]

Macaulay was a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Great Britain. He was one of four Canadian charter members of the Actuarial Society of America.[3] In 1899, he became the first Canadian to be president of the society; as well as its youngest president, at age 39. When he died in 1942, Macaulay was also the longest surviving charter member.[4] Macaulay represented the actuaries of both Canada and the United States at the International Congresses, held in Paris and Berlin, in the years 1900 and 1906. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, President of the Canadian Life Assurance Officers' Association, and President of the Canadian West Indian League, and became an honorary president of the Navy League of Canada. In 1917, he was the Chairman of the National Committee on Food Resources, he also was the governor of the Montreal General Hospital, as well as the Fraser Institute Public Library.[3]

Macaulay created a fund of £10,000 to assist the seafaring people of his father's home-town, Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. He also gave £10,000 to research into animal breeding, at Edinburgh University. He also gave money to the public library on the Hebridean island of Lewis, erected a wing in the island's hospital, and established the Macaulay Experimental Farm. In 1930, he funded the purchase of 50 acres (200,000 m2), to establish the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research. Macaulay received an honorary degree from Aberdeen University,[3] and McGill University,[5] and the Lewis town of Stornoway made him the first Freeman of the burgh in 300 years.[3]

Holstein herd[edit]

Many of the world's Holstein cattle descend from Macaulay's herd.

It has been stated that most of the world's pure-bred Holstein cattle descend from Macaulays herd, raised on his farm in Quebec.[3][6] Macaulay and farm manager, Joe Chandler, bought a bull named "Johanna Rag Apple Pabst" (also known as "Old Joe"), for $15,000. The bull sired 51 sons and 44 daughters; after Macaulay's death in 1942, the herd was dispersed and went on to produce most of the pure-breds in the world.[5][6][7]


In 1881, Macaulay married Henrietta M. L. Bragg, from New Orleans, Louisiana, USA. Bragg was the niece of US Army General Bragg.[8] The couple had one son, followed by three daughters, and finally another son. Macaulay had two later marriages. In 1912, he married Margaret Allan of London, England; in 1920, he married Margaret Palin of Gloucester, England. He did not have any children in his later two marriages.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Start of T. B. Macaulay (1860 - 1942)". Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Lawson, Bill (2008). Lewis in History and Legend: The West Coast. Birlinn. pp. 202–205. ISBN 978-1-84158-368-6. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Dr Thomas Bassett Macaulay" (pdf). Retrieved 11 February 2010. 
  4. ^ "Dreams Of Our Founding Fathers" (pdf). Society of Actuaries. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  5. ^ a b "Start of T. B. Macaulay (1860 - 1942)". Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  6. ^ a b "T.B. Macaulay and Mount Victoria Farm". Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  7. ^ Zandbergen, Nelson (October 2003). "Holstein pioneers make pilgrimage to area". Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  8. ^ "T.B. Macaulay and Mount Victoria Farm",, retrieved 16 August 2011 
Further Reading
  • Hodgson, Roderick L. (1997). T.B. Macaulay & Mount Victoria Farm. Hudson Historical Society. ISBN 978-1-895821-15-4.