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Sir Henry Barkly GCMG KCB

1815 – 1883

Sir Henry Barkly GCMG KCB (1815-1898) started his career in business and politics before serving terms as governor of British Guiana and then Jamaica. Appointed governor of Victoria, he arrived in the colony on Christmas Eve 1856, just a few weeks after the first sitting of its newly-created parliament. His term began terribly when his wife and newborn son died as the result of a phaeton accident in April 1857, occasioning much public sympathy. Over the next six years Barkly's priority was securing stable government - a challenge, as into the 1890s the parliament was to comprise generally independent members who clumped and reclumped into factions according to the issues of the day, including land settlement, education, constitutional and electoral reform and payment of parliamentarians. Barkly proved a reliable interpreter of colonial affairs to Britain. Meanwhile, he was a strong supporter of philanthropic and intellectual movements; he was a founder and President of the Royal Society of Victoria, and helped to found the National Gallery, the Acclimatization Society and the National Observatory. In 1863 he became Governor of Mauritius; seven years later he was sent to the Cape of Good Hope. He was recalled to England in 1877, having made several regrettable decisions in Africa. However, after his return he was made a member of the royal commission on Colonial defence. In retirement, as an elected Fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Geographical Society, he applied himself to science. Barkly is commemorated in the Barkly Tablelands, a huge area of the NT between Camooweal and Tennant Creek.

Updated 2018