Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William Templeton (1828–1890)

by Jacqueline Templeton

This article was published:

William Templeton (1828-1890), public servant and company director, was born on 3 December 1828 in Glasgow, Scotland, son of Andrew Templeton (d.1829), banker, and his wife Janet, née Forlonge. On 24 January 1831 William arrived at Launceston in his mother's chartered brig Czar; the family went to Campbell Town, Van Diemen's Land, where William Forlonge had land, but soon moved to Parramatta, New South Wales. William was educated at The King's School. About 1843 he joined his mother at Seven Creeks station near Euroa, Port Phillip District. In 1851 he enlisted in the gold escort corps and was in charge of the first escorts from the Mount Alexander diggings; in May next year he became an officer of the mounted police. In 1853 he transferred to the gold commissioner's office, Maryborough, and was successively sub-inspector, acting assistant and senior commissioner, next year he was commissioner and after the Eureka uprising was transferred to Ballarat. He was a witness before the select committees on police in 1852 and 1863.

Templeton was resident warden, Maryborough district, in 1855-62. A judicious administrator, who declared the miners 'a most respectable and orderly class', he insisted on a restrained police force and constantly sought its efficiency. As chairman of the local court he suggested procedural changes, and when the office of warden was abolished in 1862, he became police magistrate to the Melbourne and suburban districts. He occasionally sat on boards of inquiry appointed by the Education Board to investigate problems in Common schools. He was a member of the royal commission on penal and prison discipline; its third report in 1872 gave the results of its inquiry into the system of industrial and reformatory schools set up under the Neglected and Criminal Children's Act of 1864; he also gave evidence to the commission, which included in its report his view that children of the destitute should be boarded-out privately or provided for by government-assisted local authorities.

In Melbourne in 1870 Templeton published A Guide to Courts of Petty Sessions in Victoria … In 1874 he sold his home, Elmshurst, Brighton, to Thomas Bent, moved to Windsor, and was a member of the Prahran Council in 1881-84 and mayor 1883-84. He also supported a number of charitable institutions. Dismissed on Black Wednesday, January 1878, he decided to form a company in Victoria similar to two trustees and executors companies he had observed in South Africa. The Trustees, Executors, & Agency Co. Ltd was floated in 1878; the directors included Sir Charles Sladen, D. C. Macarthur, John Benn, James Balfour, Frederick Race Godfrey and John Mark Davies.

Templeton was managing director until 1890. Despite the company's slow start he remained confident of its soundness and future success. His high reputation, his many business and professional friends and his legal knowledge were important in winning public confidence. The business was soon administering many valuable estates and by 1890 its original £1 shares were worth £15.

Templeton was a foundation member and first chairman of directors of the Mutual Store. Originally a member of the Church of England, he later joined Dr Charles Strong in forming the Australian Church. On 6 October 1859 at Brighton he married Mary Anne Godfrey of Stanley, Tasmania, who bore him seven sons and five daughters. He died at Tarana, Lewisham Road, Windsor, on 18 September 1890; his estate was valued for probate at over £12,000.

Select Bibliography

  • H. M. Humphreys (ed), Men of the Time in Australia: Victorian series, 1st ed (Melb, 1878)
  • H. M. Franklyn, A Glance at Australia in 1800 (Melb, 1881)
  • T. Brentnall, My Memories (Melb, 1938)
  • A. Henderson (ed), Australian Families, vol 1 (Melb, 1941)
  • W. Bate, A History of Brighton (Melb, 1962)
  • Australasian Building Societies and Mortgage Companies, Gazette, 25 Sept 1890
  • Argus (Melbourne), 3 July 1880, 19 Sept 1890
  • Trustees, Executors, & Agency Co. Ltd records (Melbourne)
  • Warden's reports, Maryborough mining district (Public Record Office Victoria).

Citation details

Jacqueline Templeton, 'Templeton, William (1828–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (Melbourne University Press), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


3 December, 1828
Glasgow, Lanarkshire, Scotland


18 September, 1890 (aged 61)
Windsor, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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