THE SECOND MARRIAGE
James and his family were presumably devastated by the tragic and unexpected death of their wife and mother in January 1880. There would have been lots of domestic servants to keep the household running, and presumably the older girls in the family were expected to take over some of the running of the family home. The oldest son, James Robert, was 23 when his mother died and the oldest daughter, Alice Myra, was 20 and would have finished school and been supporting their mother in household management. The youngest child, Harold Octavius, was only three years old (not 3 months as reported in the newspapers) and five of the children were less than 10 years old, so child care was still a major concern.
By the end of 1881, two years after Annie's death, James decided he would re-marry. Perhaps he thought his chosen bride would fill Annie’s shoes as “mother”, or perhaps he simply fell in love. Whatever the reason, in early January 1882, he married again.
His bride was Mary Mackinlay. For three years prior to the marriage Mary had been the Principal of Brisbane Girls Grammar School. Her appointment as Lady Principal was made by the Principal of Girton College, Cambridge (Marianne Bernard), who was written to by Sir Charles Lilley, one of the Trustees of Brisbane Grammar in mid-1878 after a series resignations at the school:
“It is a difficult matter in the colonies to obtain the services of a lady of high class attainments and with due educational experience.”
He stipulated that the new principal should be capable of teaching the higher work of the school, especially in Latin, Euclid and algebra, with French or German as additional subjects. She should have some experience of teaching and she should not be too young – by this he meant not under twenty-seven.  Mary Mackinlay met all these requirements, having a licentiate LLA (Literate in Arts) from the University of St Andrews, Edinburgh. She had taught at Cheltenham Ladies College, and immediately prior to being headhunted, at the Royal High School, Bath. She was also 37 years old at the time of her appointment.
On Wednesday 16 October 1878 the following item appeared in The Brisbane Courier (page 2):
"Amongst the passengers by the last incoming Torres Straits mail steamer was Miss Mackinlay, the recently-appointed Lady Principal for the Girls' Grammar School. From the accounts which have reached us, we are inclined to think that the Education Department has been as fortunate in this instance as they were in the appointment of Mr. Roe. Miss Mackinlay, who holds the degree of "Literate in Arts" from the University of St. Andrew's, Edinburgh, has had large experience as a teacher in some of the best schools in England ; was for three years an assistant teacher, taking charge of the higher classes, at the Cheltenham College for young ladies, presided over by Miss Beale (a lady of great note in the educational world at home); whence she proceeded to Bath High School for young ladies. For about two years she remained at the latter school, and left it to come to Brisbane. The election was made by the Lady Principal of Gerton (sic) College, Cambridge) who speaks in the highest terms of Miss Mackinlay's attainments and powers of teaching. In addition to more than usual abilities and high culture, Miss MacKinlay has a kind and genial manner which is calculated to win and retain the confidence of her new pupils."
The Brisbane Girls Grammar School website has the following information about Mary Mackinlay:
Miss Mary MacKinlay, Principal, 1878-1881
Miss Mackinlay replaced the Headmaster of Brisbane Grammar School, Mr Reginald Roe who had been acting Principal of the Girls’ School after the abrupt departures of both Mrs O’Connor and her successor Miss Cargill. After her arrival from England, Miss Mackinlay was welcomed to the School by the Board of Trustees. As with her predecessors, she was not invited to attend any Board meetings; the interests of the girls’ school was represented by Mr Roe. Hence a good working relationship between these two leaders was essential if the girls’ school was to remain stable and expand. It would appear that Miss MacKinlay and Mr Roe happily worked together to create a productive outcome for the girls' school. In 1881 Mr Roe said of Miss MacKinlay:
...after an honourable and diligent service of over three years (she) is about to hand over her work for another to continue. The school has prospered during her leadership. She found it with some forty pupils on the roll; she leaves it with eighty. She found it in debt; she leaves it out of debt, and with every prospect of its henceforth paying its own way and standing upon its own merits. That this result is due largely to Miss MacKinlay’s enthusiasm and devotion to her work I can most confidently assert...
After her resignation, Miss Mackinlay married James Dickson who became Premier of Queensland 1898-1899.
The marriage between James and Mary took place far from Brisbane, at St Paul’s Anglican Church in Carcoar, NSW. Carcoar is located in the Central Highlands about 230 kilometres from Sydney and was once one of the most important government centres in Western New South Wales. The location of this marriage is the first indication that the marriage was not welcome to the Dickson children. It seems there was resistance to and disapproval of the marriage, for family history has told that on James and Mary’s return from their wedding/honeymoon the house at Toorak was draped in black and all the blinds were down to present an unwelcoming face. All the Dickson daughters attended Brisbane Girls Grammar, and three of them were pupils during Mary’s tenure as Principal. Perhaps they couldn’t countenance their headmistress becoming their father’s wife, and therefore their stepmother, or perhaps they simply reacted negatively against their father remarrying at all. Whatever the reasons, it put their father in an impossible situation, and Mary Mackinlay also. Obviously Mary’s kind and genial manner was not to be allowed to translate itself from the school environment to the domestic.
After the marriage Mary never features in family records. As a married woman she would not be expected to continue in paid employment, particularly as her husband was a wealthy man. For the next twenty years during which James he held important and senior positions in the government of Queensland she is not reported as accompanying him to any of his official engagements. She did not accompany him when he travelled with his daughters around Europe for two years in the late 1880’s, nor does she appear to have accompanied him to England when he was part of the delegation negotiating with the British government about Federation. It is of course possible that wives did accompany and were simply in the background and their activities not reported, but given the hostile family reaction to the marriage it may have been that Mary simply lived apart from the family and the relationship with James did not continue.
Whether she ever lived en famille at Toorak is not known. By 1889 she was resident in Toowoomba, Queensland, 125 kilometres inland from Brisbane, where she opened a Preparatory School for Boys called Jeanfield in central Toowoomba. The opening of the school was advertised in the Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Advertiser on 29 January 1889. For some years thereafter notices appeared regularly in the Brisbane Courier advising the school’s opening and closing term dates. The school was also listed in the 1895/6 Post Office Directory with the name of Mrs J.R. Dickson, under the heading “School, Preparatory Boys”.
She also appeared intermittently in the social notes of local newspapers attending various events, always in the name Mrs J R Dickson. James is also recorded as being in Toowoomba on political and other business at various times during the two decades after his marriage to Mary, and it can only be speculation as to whether he would have spent time with Mary during such visits.
On 22 February 1902, Mary died, outliving James by 13 months. James had been knighted 10 days before his death. Because there had been no divorce, and on paper at least Mary was still James’s wife, she became Lady Dickson.
Mary was buried in the Anglican section of Toowoomba and Drayton Cemetery. Her headstone, surmounted by a plain cross, bears the simple inscription:
In Memory of
Widow of the late Sir James Dickson
Who died at Toowoomba
February 22 1902
Aged 60 years
Mary's Will appointed Ernest Winter, Solicitor, Brisbane and Robert McNab, Solicitor, Brisbane as executors with capacity to realize her assets to pay for funeral and testamentary expenses and then the following bequests:
• Francis William West of Sydney - £100 pounds
• Marianne Helen Brydon of South Brisbane £100
• Edward Gibson, “now beyond the seas”, dentist, £20,
• Charles George Gibson, Mining Engineer, £20
• Harold William Gibson, £20
• Governesses Home, Milton, near Brisbane, £100
• The Sick Children's Hospital £20.
The rest of the estate, which comprised several properties and capital held in various deposit accounts, was to be paid to the Trustees of the Brisbane Girls Grammar for the foundation of a scholarship called the Mackinlay Scholarship to assist a former student to attend a university.
The two witnesses to the Will were Elizabeth Irwin, Ruthven Street, Toowoomba, and Alfred Mitford Lilley, Solicitor, Toowoomba on 27 Apr 1889. At her death Brisbane Girls Grammar agreed to pay for an inscribed headstone and a wrought iron fence around her grave, the funds for this coming from Mary’s estate. In 1904 the Old Girls who attended the school during her principalship presented the school with an Honour Board to commemorate the "splendid work she did for the school". One can only assume none of the Dickson daughters contributed to this token of esteem.
In 2005 the school funded the cleaning of the grave and tombstone (see photo below).
In May 1902 Mary’s executors auctioned her jewellery, a newspaper report of the time being headed “The Late Lady Dickson’s Jewels”. Items snapped up at an auction included a pair of diamond earrings, “an exceptionally handsome bangle and brooch combination made in the form of a spray of flowers set with diamonds, and a five-stone diamond ring”, as well as various items of old silver. Mary is referred to as Lady Mary Dickson, relict of the late Sir James R. Dickson.
Further information about Mary and her marriage to Sir James may yet come to light, and this page will be updated accordingly.
Information about Mary Mackinlay contributed by Mrs Jenny Davis, Librarian - Special Collections, BRISBANE GIRLS GRAMMAR SCHOOL, and by Judith Dickson, descendant of Sir James Dickson, Brisbane.
 Sir Charles Lilley (27 August 1827 – 20 August 1897) was a Premier and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Queensland. He had a significant influence on the form and spirit of state education in colonial Queensland which lasted well into the 20th century.
 Knowing Women: Origins of Women’s Education in Nineteenth-Century Australia, Marjorie R. Theobald, Cambridge University Press, 1996
 The equivalent of a degree
 Reginald Heber Roe (3 August 1850 – 21 September 1926) was a headmaster (876-1909) of Brisbane Grammar School, Queensland, Australia and first vice-chancellor of the University of Queensland.
 This institution provided accommodation for women looking for, or taking a break from, work as a governess. Governesses were essential to the education of children on large cattle farms in the Queensland hinterland, and of course wealthier families also employed women as governesses, particularly for their younger children. Such women would have required respectable lodgings when resident in Brisbane.
 One of 13 children of Sir Charles Lilley
 Principals address in the 1904 Annual Report