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Sir Robert Andrews Mackenzie-Douglas, 3rd Bart






Robert Mackenzie-DouglasSir Robert Andrews Mackenzie-Douglas, 3rd Bart of Glenbervie (1837-1884) was the son of Sir Robert Andrews MacKenzie-Douglas, 2nd Baronet, who had married his sister-in-law, Martha Elizabeth, daughter of Joshua Rouse, of Southampton.


At the age of seventeen, by purchase he had joined the 57th, a Middlesex Regiment, as an ensign, and had a notable military career. After serving in India during the Indian Mutiny, at the storming of Sebastopol, the capture of Kinburn. and later at Aden, he came to New Zealand with his regiment in 1861 to take part in the Maori Wars.  Just a few months prior to wedding Eleanor, on 20 January, 1866, Douglas commanded a detachment of the 57th Regiment of Foot in an attack on a Hauhau village as part of a column led by a Lieutenant-Colonel Butler.


Sir Robert Douglas married Eleanor when he was twenty-eight, having been born in London, England, in 1837.  Eleanor Louisa Liffiton, who came to New Zealand with her parents, Thomas and Caroline Liffiton and her two sisters and one brother in 1856 on the Hastings. The Liffitons settled in Wanganui

Although they initially planned to build a house in Whangarei, Eleanor and her husband built their house, at Glenbervie, North Auckland . They called it “Bleak House,” perhaps a reference to the Charles Dickens novel.


 Sir Robert became prominent in New Zealand local and national politics, but died in 1884 at the age of forty-seven. On 28 February, 1884, the Wanganui Herald reported his death earlier in the day at the house of his brother-in-law, Mr. C. H. Ashcroft, the husband of Eleanor’s sister Maria Huntley Liffiton.



The Death of Sir Robert Douglas (from the Wanganui Chronicle)

For some time past the serious illness of Sir Robert Douglas has in a measure prepared his friends for the intelligence that at an early hour this morning he passed away. Since his arrival from Auckland he has been residing with his brother-in-law, Mr. C. H. Ashforth, the change of air being considered beneficial. Notwithstanding the most assiduous care and attention, Sir Robert gradually sank, the end arriving at four o’clock .

Sir Robert Douglas was born in July 1837. He was educated at first in Jersey, completing his studies in Hampshire. He was gazetted into the 57th Regiment in 1854 and very quickly was on active service in the Crimean war. He was present at the storming of Sebastopol , and the capture of Kinburn, receiving the Crimean medal and clasp, and the Turkish War medal. He next served against the Arabs at Aden, and was present at the capture at Sheikothman. From Arabia to India was but a short step, and the young officer took part in the suppression of the terrible Indian mutiny. The 57th were afterwards dispatched to New Zealand, and Sir Robert served in the campaign on this Coast, being present at various skirmishes, and at Nukumaru, receiving the honor of mention in general orders. For ten years he commanded a company of the old “Die Hards,” finally retiring by sale of commission, and settling in this colony where he had married and was possessed of property.

There are many members of the old Regiment settled in this district who will hear with sincere sorrow of the early death of their old commander. Sir Robert was exceedingly popular in the Regiment, the men looking upon him as a fearless leader and a considerate and liberal officer. From his residence on this Coast[1] during a stirring period, he naturally made many warm friends, and we feel sure the news of his decease will be received with deep regret.

Sir Robert Douglas was a public man, well known in political circles. For many years he was member of the Auckland Provincial Council, and at the general election of 1876 he was returned to the House of Representatives for the district of Marsden, which he represented until 1879. During the time he was a representative he was distinguished by great activity and energy, and perhaps did more than any other man in the House to keep the Opposition from falling to pieces during the ascendancy of Sir George Grey. He was never disheartened, and fought a losing battle perhaps better than any man in the house. He was a man of the most generous and kindly disposition, sparing no exertions to serve his party or his friend.

We understand that the funeral will take place at 3 p.m.



  1. Sir Robert Andrews Mackenzie-Douglas, 3rd Bart of Glenbervie died on 28th February 1884 at Wanganui, New Zealand.
  2. the western coastline of the North Island around Wanganui (now spelt Whanganui).



Eleanor Liffiton, later Lady Douglas

Eleanor Louisa Liffiton (1845-1914). After employment as housekeeper to Sir Robert Douglas, Eleanor married him to become Lady Eleanor.

Comment:  There is possible confusion here with Mary Ellen Stone, who worked for Sir Robert's widow, Eleanor, and married their son, also Robert. More on this can be found here>>> (pdf)


Glenbervie, New Zealand

The Glenbervie estate at Whangarei, New Zealand. They called it “Bleak House,” perhaps a reference to the Charles Dickens novel.  Glenbervie is located just east of Whangarei city, approximately 160km north of Auckland city.


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