University Officers

Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin

Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin (1835 - 1914) was a Fellow of Senate of the University of Sydney from 1883 - 1914, Vice-Chancellor from 1895 to 1896 and Chancellor from 1896 until his death in 1914.


Fellow of Senate 1883 - 1914, including election by Senate as
– Vice-Chancellor 1895 - 1896
– Chancellor 1896 - 1914

His background

Henry Normand MacLaurin was born in Scotland and was educated at home and at the University of St Andrews where he graduated MA in 1854, having obtained numerous prizes and scholarships during the course. He then studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh graduating MD in 1857.

His career

MacLaurin entered the Royal Navy as an Assistant Surgeon in 1858 and remained in the Service until 1871. Having made a tour of duty in New South Wales in 1868, he determined to take up medical practice there.

On arriving in Sydney in 1871, he set up a successful practice in Macquarie Street. He was associated as an honorary with a number of institutions, including St Vincent’s Hospital (1874-76) and the Sydney Infirmary and Dispensary (1873-84).

MacLaurin was appointed to the Legislative Council in 1889 and was its Vice-President in 1893-94. He held directorships in a number of important financial institutions, such as the Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Union Assurance Co Ltd and was Chairman of the Mutual Life & Citizen’s Assurance Co Ltd from 1908-14.

He died in 1914.

The biographical notes on the Chancellors contain information derived from a variety of sources including: Australia’s First: A History of the University of Sydney; University News; University of Sydney Archives; and Lawlink NSW: Law and History.

Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin

Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin, photo from the 'Australian Town and Country Journal', 1 October 1902, National Library of Australia.


Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin, photo from 'Hermes" November 1914.

His membership of Senate

MacLaurin had a long and significant association with the University. This commenced in the medical school where he was an examiner from 1876.

He was elected a Fellow of the Senate in 1883. He served two terms as Vice-Chancellor from 1887-89 and from 1895-96. In 1896 he was elected Chancellor, a position he held until his death in 1914.

MacLaurin, well recognised for his business acumen, oversaw the shrewd investment of the private funds of the University in properties adjacent to the University and in the CBD of Sydney. His support was also crucial for the successful expansion of the medical school under the tenure of Thomas Anderson Stuart.

The former Fisher Library, MacLaurin Hall commemorates his name.

Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin

Sir Normand MacLaurin, photo G3_224_1666, University of Sydney Archives.


Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin in 1902 - sitting for his portrait below, image from 'Hermes" 1902.


The portrait of Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin, 1902, by Ronald Gray (1868-1951), oil on canvas, commissioned by the University, University Art Collection, reproduced with the permission of the University of Sydney.