Some History of an Australian Family in Colonial Ceylon

Bill Mackie (2022)

Some History of an Australian Family in Colonial Ceylon

by Bill Mackie

(Article provided kind courtesy of Hugh Karunanayake)

I have two books that depict Ceylon/Sri Lanka in two different periods and from different aspects; they inspire me to discuss my family’s connection and my birth in Ceylon. The first has a title pointing to the fascinating environment in which my parents lived early in the twentieth century. Both books show the multicultural nature of Ceylon’s society that began centuries before that of Australia, and they display the island’s beauty and interesting features. The second book also induces me to chat about my family’s contact with Lionel Wendt and his music and photography.

My family had two generations working in the tea industry. My story starts in about 1876, when my grandfather Copland Mackie joined the tea trade in Glasgow, Scotland, and ends when the last of our family connections left Ceylon in 1959. It makes me ponder on some social conditions prevailing in the British colonial period during the first half of the twentieth century and the changes since the country became a republic in 1972.



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