Sir William Mackinnon, 1st Baronet
|Died||22 June 1893 (aged 70)|
|Known for||British India Steam Navigation Company|
Imperial British East Africa Company
Mackinnon went to India in 1847 and joined an old schoolfriend, Robert Mackenzie, in the coasting trade, carrying merchandise from port to port around the Bay of Bengal. Together they formed the firm of Mackinnon Mackenzie & Co and Mackinnon chose to make Cossipore the base for his own activities.
In 1856, he founded the shipping company Calcutta and Burma Steam Navigation Company, which would become British India Steam Navigation Company in 1862. It grew into a huge business trading round the coasts of the Indian Ocean, extending its operations to Burma, the Persian Gulf and the east coast of Africa, from Aden to Zanzibar.
In 1865 he established Gray, Dawes and Company as a merchant partnership for his nephew Archibald Gray and Edwyn Sandys Dawes (1838–1903), knighted in 1894. The company, founded as a shipping and insurance agency in the City of London, went through several reorganizations and ownership changes, obtaining recognition as a merchant bank in 1915, becoming fully fledged as Gray Dawes Bank in 1973 (sold in 1983), and now known as Gray Dawes Group Ltd.
In 1888, Mackinnon founded the Imperial British East Africa Company and became its Chairman. The company, supported by the United Kingdom government as a means of establishing British influence in the region, was committed to eliminating the slave trade, prohibiting trade monopoly, and equal treatment for all nations. The company would later be taken over by the British government and became the East Africa Protectorate.
Mackinnon promoted Henry Morton Stanley's Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, first enlisting Stanley, then writing to government ministers including Lord Iddesleigh, the Foreign Secretary, and enlisting friends to form a committee which could oversee the expedition and meet more than half the cost. In 1891 he founded the Free Church of Scotland East African Scottish Mission.
He and his nephew, Duncan MacNeil, left bequests which were used to start the Mackinnon MacNeil Trust with a mandate to "provide a decent education to deserving Highland lads".
The trustees purchased the former estate of James Nicol Fleming on Keil Point, Southend, Kintyre, including Keil House, and set up the Kintyre Technical School. After only nine years a fire destroyed the building and the school, renamed Keil School, moved to Helenslee House in Dumbarton where it continued until 2000.
Following the closure of the school, and the sale of the land, the Mackinnon MacNeil Trust was able to continue to help young people and exists now to give bursaries to students from the Western Highlands and Islands going to university. The Trust is still chaired by a member of the Mackinnon family.
In 1890, a statue dedicated to Sir William Mackinnon was erected in Mombasa, Kenya. It was later moved to the Dunbarton School in 1964, and finally moved again and re-erected in Campbelltown in 2004.
- Carlyle, E. I.; Galbraith, John S. "Mackinnon, Sir William, baronet (1823–1893)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/17618. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- British India History
- Orbell, John; Turton, Alison (2017). British banking: a guide to historical records. Routledge. pp. 236–237. ISBN 9781351954686.
- "Gray, Dawes and Company". Archives in London and the M25 area.
- Munro, J. Forbes (2003). Maritime enterprise and empire: Sir William Mackinnon and his business network, 1823–93. The Boydell Press. pp. 95–96. ISBN 9780851159355.
- "Dawes, Sir Edwyn Sandys". Who's Who: 348. 1903.
- Mackinnon MacNeil Trust
The papers of Sir William Mackinnon (PP MS 1) are held by Archives and Special Collections at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
- J. Forbes Munro, Maritime Enterprise and Empire: Sir William Mackinnon and His Business Network, 1823–1893 (2003)
- John S. Galbraith, Mackinnon and East Africa 1878–1895 (Cambridge 1972)
- Sir William Mackinnon
- Kintyre Magazine
- BI Ship (British India Steam Navigation) site
- Carlyle, Edward Irving (1901). Lee, Sidney (ed.). Dictionary of National Biography (1st supplement). London: Smith, Elder & Co. . In