MACKINNON, William Alexander (1784-1870), of Portswood, Hants.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1790-1820, ed. R. Thorne, 1986
Available from Boydell and Brewer



20 Feb. 1819 - 1820
1831 - 1832
1835 - 1852
23 May 1853 - 1865

Family and Education

b. 2 Aug. 1784, 1st s. of William Mackinnon of Antigua by Harriet, da. of Francis Frye of Antigua. educ. St. John’s, Camb. 1799; L. Inn 1802. m. 3 Aug. 1812, Emma Mary, da. and h. of Joseph Budworth Palmer of Palmerstown, co. Mayo, 3s. 3da. suc. gdfa. William Mackinnon 1809.

Offices Held

Colonization commr. for S. Australia 1835.

Capt. S. Hants yeoman cav. 1821, Lymington yeoman cav. 1834.


Mackinnon, whose family had acquired considerable wealth in the West Indies, succeeded to the family estates as 33rd chief of the Clan Mackinnon on the death of his grandfather in 1809. The following year Walter Scott wrote: ‘Mackinnon of Mackinnon, a young gentleman born and bred in England but nevertheless a Highland chief ... who now visits the Highlands for the first time, is anxious to buy back some of the family property which was sold long since’. The same year Mackinnon put on record the arms matriculated by his great grandfather as William Mackinnon of Antigua and in 1811 matriculated his own at the Lyon Office. In 1812 he married the only daughter and sole heiress of Joseph Budworth Palmer, who the previous year had succeeded in the right of his wife to the name and estates of her brother Roger Palmer of Ruth and Palmerstown in Mayo. At the time of their marriage, Mackinnon’s wife was considered to be one of the handsomest women and one of the greatest heiresses in the kingdom.

Mackinnon entered Parliament as the guest of the Barne family in 1819. Like them he was doubtless expected to support government, but in his first Parliament he made no reported speech and only three minority votes are known: against the foreign enlistment bill, 3 and 21 June, and for inquiry into charitable foundations, 23 June 1819. He was left without a seat in 1820 and failed to secure a return until 1831. He died 30 Apr. 1870.

Scott Letters ed. Grierson, ii. 359; DNB.

Ref Volumes: 1790-1820

Author: Lawrence Taylor