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Sir Charles Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1890–1969)

by John Playford

This article was published:

Charles Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1890-1969), by Russell & Sons

Charles Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1890-1969), by Russell & Sons

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 9101

Sir Charles Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1890-1969), landowner and governor, was born on 2 March 1890 at Kensington, London, son of James Charles Barclay-Harvey, gentleman, and his wife Ellen Marianne, née Hills. Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, Malcolm was commissioned in the 7th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders, Territorial Force, on 1 August 1909. On 7 February 1912 in the parish church of St Margaret, Westminster, he married Margaret Joan Heywood (d.1935); they were to have one daughter. After being invalided out of the army in 1915, he was attached to the British Ministry of Munitions in World War I.

As the Conservative member for Kincardineshire and West Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in 1923-29, he sat in the House of Commons. In 1924 he had succeeded his father as laird of Dinnet, inheriting a 14,000-acre (5666 ha) estate in Aberdeenshire, and in 1924-29 was parliamentary private secretary to the secretary of state for Scotland. Barclay-Harvey regained his parliamentary seat in 1931 and again held the private secretaryship in 1932-36. He was knighted in 1936. On 23 March 1938 in the crypt chapel of St Stephen, Westminster, he married a widow Lady Muriel Felicia Vere Liddell-Grainger, daughter of the 12th Earl of Lindsey and grand-daughter of J. C. Cox of Sydney.

Upon being appointed governor of South Australia in March 1939, Sir Malcolm resigned from the House of Commons and was appointed K.C.M.G. With his wife and two stepchildren, he arrived in Adelaide and took office on 12 August, just before the outbreak of World War II. He worked tirelessly for the war effort and travelled throughout the rural areas; his formidable and energetic wife founded the Lady Muriel Nurses' Club for servicewomen and visited every Red Cross branch in the State. Whenever possible the vice-regal couple lived at their summer residence, Marble Hill, in the Adelaide Hills, where they restored the beautiful gardens. Barclay-Harvey installed a model railway there and in 1943 the South Australian Railways named the first of its new 4-8-4 locomotives after him. On medical advice, he retired on 26 April 1944. During his term he had been honorary colonel of the 4th Battalion of the Gordon Highlanders; he had also invested profitably in Australian stocks and shares.

Returning to his beloved Scottish estate, which became renowned for its land management, Barclay-Harvey was appointed deputy-lieutenant for Aberdeenshire in 1945 and served as a member (1945-55) of the Aberdeenshire County Council. He was grand master mason (1949-53) of the Freemasons Scottish Constitution and in 1964 was made prior for Scotland of the Order of St John. He enjoyed shooting and fishing and anything to do with railways: he wrote A History of the Great North of Scotland Railway (London, 1940) which ran to three editions. A courteous, friendly man who believed that public duty went with privilege, Barclay-Harvey died in London on 17 November 1969; his wife survived him, as did the daughter of his first marriage.

Select Bibliography

  • O. S. Nock, Railways of Australia (Lond, 1971)
  • C. Thornton-Kemsley, Through Winds and Tides (Montrose, Scotland, 1974)
  • Greater Than Their Knowing (Adel, 1986)
  • National Trust of South Australia Newsletter, no 83, June 1977
  • Evening Standard (London), 1 Mar 1939
  • Times (London), 18 Nov 1969
  • Advertiser (Adelaide), 19 Nov 1969
  • private information.

Citation details

John Playford, 'Barclay-Harvey, Sir Charles Malcolm (1890–1969)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 27 September 2023.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2023

Charles Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1890-1969), by Russell & Sons

Charles Malcolm Barclay-Harvey (1890-1969), by Russell & Sons

State Library of South Australia, SLSA: B 9101

Life Summary [details]


2 March, 1890
London, Middlesex, England


17 November, 1969 (aged 79)
London, Middlesex, England

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