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Henry Barkley Templeton (1868–1943)

by D. I. McDonald

This article was published:

Henry Barkley Templeton (1868-1943), public servant, was born on 28 May 1868 at Windsor, New South Wales, son of Henry Templeton, bootmaker, and his wife Margaret Jane, née Hissken, both Sydney born. Educated at St Barnabas's Church of England School, Sydney, he later trained as an accountant and worked with a Sydney solicitor before entering the office of R. Goldsbrough & Co.'s wool stores, Pyrmont.

In January 1885 he joined the Postmaster-General's Department as a clerk in the accounts branch, General Post Office, Sydney. In 1893, although a comparatively junior officer when he was appointed clerk-in-charge, intercolonial and international postal affairs, he was judged by the deputy postmaster-general, S. H. Lambton, to be 'the most efficient and only competent officer for the position'. On 12 June 1895 at St John's Anglican Church, Darlinghurst, Templeton married Eva Charlotte, daughter of W. S. Dowel, a former member of the Legislative Assembly.

In 1900-01 Templeton acted as secretary to the intercolonial conference of permanent heads making preparations for the transfer of post and telegraph departments to the Commonwealth. He joined the staff of the Commonwealth Postmaster-General's Office in July 1901, was accountant and senior clerk at Melbourne (1902-06) and became chief clerk in January 1907. In order to protect his department's financial interests, Templeton chaired a board set up in 1907 to report on the best method of issuing Commonwealth postage stamps. On 1 November 1908 he was appointed Queensland deputy postmaster-general.

In his evidence before the royal commission on postal services (1908-10) Templeton defended his permanent head, (Sir) Robert Scott, against his detractors, and explained those problems which had arisen under Commonwealth control. While defining the role of deputy postmasters-general, he expressed concern that insignificant administrative tasks so often distracted officers from important duties. Supporting the appointment of women as telephonists because they did not seek promotion, he defined the role of staff associations as one of 'social and even protective purposes' which should not 'be permitted to go beyond proper and reasonable bounds'. Furthermore, he did not hesitate to criticize incompetent senior officers or any who had resisted central office control. He later gave evidence before a parliamentary standing committee on public works which investigated the remodelling of the General Post Office, Sydney (1920).

In July 1922 Templeton was appointed assistant commissioner of Federal taxation and in 1929-35 was second commissioner. He was, as well, a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants. He died on 10 September 1943 at Royal Park, Melbourne, and was buried in Brighton cemetery. Two daughters survived him.

Select Bibliography

  • Royal Commission on Postal Services, Parliamentary Papers (Commonwealth), 1910, 4, 5 (50)
  • Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, Parliamentary Papers (Commonwealth), 1920-21, 5 (172)
  • Argus (Melbourne), 11 Sept 1943
  • private information.

Citation details

D. I. McDonald, 'Templeton, Henry Barkley (1868–1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

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