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Andrew Henry Barlow (1836–1915)

by E. Clarke

This article was published:

Andrew Barlow, by P. Poulsen, 1893

Andrew Barlow, by P. Poulsen, 1893

State Library of Queensland, 7014

Andrew Henry Barlow (1836-1915), bank officer and politician, was born in August 1836 at Wanstead, Essex, England, son of John Henry Barlow, merchant, and his wife Eliza Ann, née Burnstead. He arrived with his father in Sydney in 1848 and on 11 July 1851 joined the Bank of Australasia. In December 1855 he became sub-accountant in the Sydney branch and between that year and 1884 he served in Melbourne, Newcastle, Auckland, Tamworth, Brisbane and Ipswich, Queensland, where he became manager in 1878. In January 1885 he was retired on a pension because of a chronic liver condition. He was elected to the Legislative Assembly for Ipswich on 5 May 1888. A logical rather than a fluent speaker, Barlow opposed Chinese immigration and supported the eight-hour bill, but favoured plural voting because he believed that unrestrained democracy fostered despotism.

As secretary for public lands and agriculture in the Nelson ministry between 1893 and 1896, Barlow introduced the relatively unsuccessful Communities Land Settlement Act of 1893 which provided for co-operative land settlement. The Crown Lands and the Agricultural Lands Purchase Acts of 1894, which encouraged 'grazing homesteads' and enabled the Land Board to purchase land for selection as agricultural farms, were more successful. When his health failed in 1896, he resigned his portfolio on 6 March at his wife's request, but was persuaded to represent the government in the Legislative Council. He continued as minister without portfolio in three ministries until he resigned on 11 September 1899 when (Sir) James Dickson, as premier, supported Federation, which Barlow strongly opposed. He was severely criticized in parliament in 1897 for his role in the Queensland National Bank scandal. In 1893 Nelson and Barlow had declared the bank sound, but by 1896 it had a huge deficit and further investigations revealed gross mismanagement amounting almost to corruption.

Barlow was out of office in 1899-1903 because he disapproved of Robert Philp, but from September 1903 to November 1907 he was secretary for public instruction; after a second Philp ministry he held the post again from February 1908 to June 1909. Assisted by J. D. Story as under-secretary, he made plans for state high schools and departmental control of technical colleges ('the poor man's university') which were implemented by his successors. In 1910 he was appointed to the first Senate of the University of Queensland. In 1909-15 Barlow was again minister without portfolio and leader of the government in the Legislative Council. Now trusted adviser-in-chief to the various premiers rather than a popular politician, he was referred to as 'the continuous minister'; he often substituted for other ministers and was several times acting premier.

Tall, with a pronounced shoulder hump, Barlow was tactful, shrewd and witty, but sometimes unpleasantly obsequious. Throughout his parliamentary career, he adhered sincerely to his basic liberal principles even though his cabinet affiliations frequently changed. He maintained a paternalistic attitude to 'the poor man' but was bitterly hostile to socialism and the Labor Party.

Barlow suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and ten days later died on 29 March 1915 at his Toowong home; after a state funeral he was buried at Toowong cemetery with Anglican rites. His estate was valued for probate at £7271. In 1873 he had married Eleanor Marion Outridge; they had one son.

Select Bibliography

  • C. A. Bernays, Queensland Politics During Sixty Years (Brisb. 1919)
  • Echo (Brisbane), 12 Dec 1896
  • Queenslander (Brisbane), 9 Sept 1893
  • Daily Standard (Brisbane), 29 Mar 1915
  • Brisbane Courier, 30, 31 Mar 1915
  • D. P. Crook, Queensland Politics, 1900-1915 (B.A. thesis, University of Queensland, 1957)
  • I. Tyrrell, The Reform of State Education in Queensland 1913-1939 (B.A. thesis, University of Queensland, 1968)
  • T. O'Sullivan, Reminiscences of the Queensland Parliament, 1903-15 (State Library of Queensland)
  • ANZ Bank Archives (Melbourne).

Citation details

E. Clarke, 'Barlow, Andrew Henry (1836–1915)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Andrew Barlow, by P. Poulsen, 1893

Andrew Barlow, by P. Poulsen, 1893

State Library of Queensland, 7014

Life Summary [details]


August, 1836
Wanstead, Essex, England


29 March, 1915 (aged 78)
Toowong, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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