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Herbert Taylor (1885–1970)

by Susan Priestley

This article was published:

Herbert Taylor (1885-1970), accountant and company director, was born on 11 May 1885 at Malmsbury, Victoria, eldest of five children of Ralph Herbert William Taylor, schoolteacher, and his wife Alice Ann, née French, both Victorian born. His father was headmaster (1882-94) of Nhill State School and then of a succession of suburban schools in Melbourne. From 1896 the family lived at Ormond. Leaving Caulfield Grammar School in 1902, Herbert began work as a clerk with W. J. Bush & Co. Ltd, chemical manufacturers. Three years later he joined the accountants Flack & Flack who sent him in 1907 to open their Perth office. In 1913 he became senior audit clerk with a Melbourne firm of accountants, Young & Outhwaite. Founded in 1909, the firm built its reputation on prudence, sound accounting practice and professional education. Taylor secured his permanent career with a partnership in 1917; he was to become senior partner on A. H. Outhwaite's retirement in 1947.

On 8 May 1919 at the Congregational Church, Brighton, Taylor married Doris Madeline Brock (d.1966). A founding (1928) fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, he was (from 1933) one of two inaugural vice-presidents of the offshoot Chartered Accountants (Aust.) Research Society of Victoria. Its object was to bring members of the institute together, 'professionally, socially and in various forms of sport'. Under the society's auspices, Taylor published two booklets, The Organisation of a Chartered Accountant's Office (1933) and The Audit of Sharebrokers' Accounts (1937). His third publication, The Business Man and His Investments, appeared in 1945.

A man of 'exceptional energy and conscientiousness', Taylor was elected junior vice-president of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce in 1941 and president in 1943. He joined the Institute of Public Affairs and was to serve on its council in 1945-66. From June to September 1944, as an I.P.A. nominee, he chaired several meetings of Victorian political groups opposed to the Australian Labor Party and reported the outcome to (Sir) Robert Menzies. These meetings preceded Menzies' conventions—in Canberra in October and at Albury, New South Wales, in December—which led to the formation of the Liberal Party of Australia.

One of twenty-two appointees to the party's provisional Victorian executive, Taylor was its interim chairman before handing over in June 1945 to (Sir) William Anderson, a fellow resident of East Malvern. Taylor withdrew from the political front line, in accordance with the policy of the Victorian I.P.A. He served on the Liberal Party's finance committee and became a trustee of the State branch. After two years as president of the Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia, he voiced in April 1947 the Liberal stance against the rise of 'autocratic Socialism', deploring worker intimidation by an extremist minority of union leaders and calling on Australians to restore 'the desire to do good work'.

Company boards that sought Taylor's financial expertise included the Argus & Australasian Ltd and A. V. Jennings Industries (Australia) Ltd. He chaired Sargood Gardiner Ltd, William Drummond & Co. Ltd, Griffiths Bros Ltd and Aberfoyle Holdings Ltd. A councillor (1945-55) of the University of Melbourne, he was chairman (1950-54) of its finance committee. In addition, he was treasurer (1950-55), vice-president (1956-61) and president (1961-65) of the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria. He became a fellow of the Institute of Directors, London. In 1959 he was appointed C.M.G.

Taylor belonged to the Melbourne and Athenaeum clubs. His youthful interest in cricket and tennis gave way to golf, which he played at the Metropolitan club at Oakleigh (member 1919) and later at the Portsea club. One of the reformist 'Metropolitan Bolsheviks' of the early 1920s, he joined the committee in 1928, and was treasurer (1933-35), club captain (1941-43), president (1952-54) and a life member (from 1956). During World War II he wrote a much-appreciated newsletter of club doings, spiced with 'salty humour' and a 'pinch of sentiment', for the eighty members on active service. By invitation, he joined the international Senior Golfers' Society and the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, Scotland. He also enjoyed fly-fishing, bowls and horse-racing. The Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind and the Freemasons' Hospital both made him a life governor. Survived by his three sons, he died on 24 July 1970 in East Melbourne and was cremated. His eldest son Grahame joined Young & Outhwaite.

Select Bibliography

  • J. Kissling, Seventy Years (Melb, 1973)
  • P. Aimer, Politics, Power and Persuasion (Melb, 1974)
  • N. J. Marshall, A Jubilee History 1928-1978 (Melb, 1978)
  • D. Garden, Builders to the Nation (Melb, 1992)
  • I. Hancock, National and Permanent? (Melb, 2000)
  • IPA Review, July/Sept 1970
  • Royalauto, Sept 1970
  • Argus (Melbourne), 29 May 1943, 30 Dec 1944, 23, 24 Apr 1947
  • private information.

Citation details

Susan Priestley, 'Taylor, Herbert (1885–1970)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 17 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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