In Memoriam: Howard Mackey
John Storey, April 2006
From the In Memoriam column of the April 2006 Perspectives
Howard Mackey, longtime member of the Department of History at Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas, died in Nassawadox, Virginia, on March 9, 2005. He was 76.
Mackey was born on October 23, 1929, in Toledo, Ohio, the second son of a Toledo policeman, Thomas C. Mackey, and his wife Gertrude. He studied French at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, in 1949, and he received his undergraduate degree in French and history from the University of Toledo in 1950. In 1952 he earned his MA in French history from Lehigh University, and three years later Lehigh University awarded him the PhD in British history. Mackey then embarked upon a career in teaching, first at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute (now Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University), later Winthrop College (now University). In 1963 Mackey received a Fulbright Grant to study at Tunghai University. That same year he joined the history faculty at Lamar State College of Technology (now Lamar University), remaining there until his retirement. He taught a variety of courses at Lamar, including those in his major area of interest, British and British imperial history. Increasingly interested in the Far East, Mackey studied Mandarin Chinese at Rice University’s Institute of Chinese Culture in 1975, and he subsequently taught advanced courses in Far Eastern history.
Mackey’s scholarship appeared in journals such as the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography and the Historical Magazine of the Protestant Episcopal Church. In 1979 he published a book, Wit and Whiggery: The Rev. Sydney Smith, 1771–1845 (University Press of America). He spent considerable time researching sensational crimes that occurred in Victorian England between 1823 and 1850, calling attention to precedents those cases established for newspaper coverage of criminal activities, the authority of judges to bar reporters from hearings and courtrooms, and protection for the rights of the accused. Mackey retired in 1994.
After the death of his wife Blanka Mackey in 1996, he moved to the Virginia Eastern Shore where he became engaged in transcribing and publishing 17th- and 18th-century court records from Northampton County, Virginia. At the time of his death he had published nine volumes of the county court records as well as the Vestry Book of Hungar’s Parish, Virginia, 1757–1875, through the Picton Press of Rockport, Maine. He is survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Thomas C. Mackey and Kelly Kane, a daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Hank Badger, and a granddaughter, Bess Badger.