Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Barclay, David (1846–1929)

by Shirley M. Eldershaw

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

David Barclay (1846-1929), banker and company director, was born on 18 April 1846 in Hobart Town, youngest son of David Barclay, watchmaker and silversmith, and his wife Margaret, née Strachan. He was educated at The Hutchins School and at the High School, Hobart, and received his Associate of Arts (second class) in 1863 with prizes in pure mathematics and natural philosophy. After working for a year as a junior clerk in the Survey Department and Commissioner of Crown Lands Office, in 1866 he joined the Commercial Bank founded by John Dunn.

On 9 September 1873 at Hobart he married Grace Agnes Salier; they had seven daughters and two sons. By 1884, when Barclay joined the Tasmanian Club, he had become manager of the bank, whose name was now changed to the Commercial Bank of Tasmania Ltd. In 1904, on the death of his brother Charles, David succeeded him as managing director and carried on the tradition of sound administration until the take-over by the English, Scottish and Australian Bank Ltd in 1921. He negotiated this sale, realizing that the rate of progress had outgrown the resources of his shareholders; he continued as an advisory director to the E.S. & A. until his death.

Barclay was known for his sound knowledge of finance, reliable judgment and business tact: while he was in charge the bank's business more than doubled. Urbane in manner, with a neat beard and billowing moustache, he was a shrewd judge of character, always willing to support the man rather than the professed security. He helped many who subsequently made great contributions to the State's economic growth. He saw himself as not merely a financial agent but a banker whose institution had a part to play in community and national development.

When he had completed fifty years service in 1916, Barclay was presented with an illuminated address and a purse of sovereigns by representatives of the prominent citizenry of Hobart, and with an address by his devoted bank staff. He had been a justice of the peace from 1895 and was a director of many companies including mining groups, the Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd, Davies Brothers Ltd and the Perpetual Trustees, Executors, and Agency Co. of Tasmania Ltd. He died in Hobart on 20 June 1929, survived by his wife and all his children except a son who was killed in World War I. Barclay's estate, sworn for probate at £36,124, included generous provision for numerous Hobart charities.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of Tasmania, vol 1 (Hob, 1900)
  • Hobart Town Gazette, 2 Oct 1863
  • Tasmanian Mail (Hobart), 3 Feb 1916
  • Weekly Courier (Launceston), 7 Apr 1921
  • Mercury (Hobart), 21 June 1929
  • LSD 72/2 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

Shirley M. Eldershaw, 'Barclay, David (1846–1929)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/barclay-david-5126/text8573, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 27 September 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (MUP), 1979

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