Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane was born in Ayrshire, England, on July 32, 1773, to Thomas Brisbane (1720?--1812) and his wife, Eleanor Stenhouse.
Brisbane was an ensign in the 38th Foot in 1789, and was promoted to lieutenant in 1791. Four years later, he was promoted to major and was stationed in Barbados. By the time he came to America in 1813, Brisbane had become a major general, having distinguished himself as an officer serving under Wellington in the Peninsular Campaign. He was a subordinate of General George Prevost in the British offensive from Canada in 1814, and was present at the American victories on Lake Champlain and at Plattsburg, when the British were forced to retreat to Canada.
Brisbane married Anna Maria Makdougall (1786--1862) in 1819. In 1820, he was appointed governor of New South Wales, where he studied astronomy, cultivated agricultural and viticultural development in the region, and promoted exploration beyond the colony's borders.
Brisbane returned to England in 1826 and was appointed colonel of the 34th Foot. He died at Brisbane house in Ayrshire, England, on January 27, 1860.