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Image The emigrants, 1844

TLF ID R1740

This is a painting purporting to show the wealthy MacKay family gathered on the shores of their Scottish Highland home. English artist William Allsworth (c1825-c1865) was commissioned to commemorate the family's emigration to New Zealand. In the background is the ship they have chartered to take them, the 'Slains Castle'. The party's leader, James MacKay Snr, the brother of the local laird, stands at the back. His wife, Anne, is seated near him, along with their six children, two of their nephews, various livestock and luggage.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This asset may well portray a mythical family history - it is now thought that James MacKay Snr was from an Aberdeen merchant family called Mackie, he spent most of his life in London and all his children were born in London.
  • It presents false evidence - it is now known that the 'Slains Castle' never sailed from Scotland; it left Plymouth in 1844, and although the MacKays were undoubtedly wealthy, it is unlikely they chartered the ship for themselves, as the ship records list other passengers.
  • It suggests that social standing was important, even in the remote colony of New Zealand.
  • It shows what a family of wealth would have brought with them to the colonies.
  • It is a good example of a family portrait of the time, illustrating the patriarchal family structure.
  • It demonstrates how artwork can present a skewed viewpoint.

Other details

  • Contributor
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Description: Content provider
  • URL:
  • Name: Education Services Australia
  • Organization: Education Services Australia
  • Description: Data manager
  • Person: William Allsworth
  • Description: Author
  • Copyright Holder
  • Name: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Organization: Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
  • Publisher
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organization: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Description: Publisher
  • Address: VIC, AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
  • Resource metadata contributed by
  • Name: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Address: AUSTRALIA
  • URL:
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
  • Hearing independence
Learning Resource Type
  • Image
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd and Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements