Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Barclay, Charles James (1841–1904)

by E. R. Pretyman

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

Charles James Barclay (1841-1904), bank director, was born on 27 January 1841 at Glenorchy, near Hobart Town, son of David Barclay, a watch and instrument maker who arrived at Hobart in the Resource in 1830, and his wife Margaret, née Strachan. His parents were married at St David's Church on 5 June 1832. Young Barclay was educated at the High School, Hobart, and at the Hutchins School where he and three brothers were enrolled on 24 January 1854. He left school three weeks later and entered the service of the Commercial Bank of Tasmania, then popularly known as 'Dunn's Bank', after its first manager. Barclay soon won the confidence of the management by his careful and close attention to duty, and greater responsibilities followed. In 1869 he was appointed manager at Launceston, the only branch attached to the bank. After some two years he was recalled to act as manager at Hobart; in January 1872 he was appointed manager. As business steadily increased and some reorganization was needed, Barclay was appointed managing director to enable him to give undivided attention to the control of the bank. This arduous position he filled with ability, tact and perseverance and won the respect of all with whom he came into contact. Although some may have thought that bank directors and managers should not accept administrative positions with other commercial concerns, Barclay undoubtedly gave material assistance to the establishment of other Tasmanian organizations and helpfully advised many private individuals.

Barclay had many other interests. He was a justice of the peace from 22 April 1870 until his death. On 10 June 1873 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Tasmania, in June 1899 became a member of its council and bequeathed to it his collection of prints or engravings copied from the paintings of the artist Jean-Louis-Ernest Meissonier (1815-1891). In 1880 he became a member of the general committee of the Hobart Savings Bank, founded in 1845 by George Washington Walker, and in 1894-1904 served zealously as its president. In 1887 when an Act of parliament established the Perpetual Trustees, Executors and Agency Co. of Tasmania Barclay became its first chairman, an office he retained until 1904. In 1871 he was vice-president of the Tasmanian Club and in 1901-04 its president. On 24 March 1903 the Hobart City Council appointed him a trustee of the Tasmanian Public Library and four months later he was elected chairman of trustees. The Art Society of Tasmania, of which he was sometime vice-patron, found in him a good friend, ever ready to assist in its endeavours to promote interest in the skills it fostered. By his quiet unostentatious ways and thoughtful kindness he won gratitude and much respect. He died at his home, the Bank House in Macquarie Street, on 14 June 1904 and was buried at Cornelian Bay. He left no family. On 18 August 1885 he had married Margaret Birkmyre Pringle; she died on 4 May 1922.

Select Bibliography

  • Walch's Tasmanian Almanac, 1870, 1871, 1872
  • Tasmanian Cyclopedia, vol 1 (Hob, 1900)
  • Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania, July 1904
  • Tasmanian Mail, 18, 25 June 1904.

Citation details

E. R. Pretyman, 'Barclay, Charles James (1841–1904)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/barclay-charles-james-2932/text4243, published first in hardcopy 1969, accessed online 21 December 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 3, (MUP), 1969

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