Sir John Henniker Heaton, 1st Baronet
Heaton was the only son of Lieutenant Colonel John Heaton and his wife, Elizabeth Anne née Henniker, and was born at Rochester, Kent, England. He was educated at Kent House School, Rochester, and King's College London.
Heaton found employment at first as a station hand and then joined the staff of the Cumberland Mercury, Parramatta. He had further experience as editor of the Penny Post, Goulburn, and the Times, Parramatta, before joining the Australian Town and Country Journal at Sydney about the year 1871. On this paper he came under the influence of the proprietor Samuel Bennett, "the best friend I ever had" Heaton called him, and on 16 July 1873 married his daughter Rose.
In 1879 he published The Australian Dictionary of Dates and Men of the Time, the first Australian book of reference of real importance, and a conscientious and generally sound piece of work. In 1882 he stood for parliament for the electorate of Young, and was defeated by a few votes. In the following year he went to England and represented New South Wales as a commissioner at the Amsterdam exhibition. He also represented Tasmania at the international telegraphic conference held at Berlin, and made his first mark as a reformer by obtaining a reduction in the cost of cable messages to Australia.
UK Member of Parliament
Heaton settled back in London in 1884 and at the general election held in 1885 was returned as Conservative member for Canterbury. He held this seat for 25 years, and became well known in the House of Commons for the special interest he showed in postal questions. In 1886 he moved a resolution inviting the government to negotiate with other governments with a view to the establishment of universal penny post. It was defeated, but he succeeded in 1890 in obtaining a reduction in the rate between Great Britain and Australia to twopence halfpenny. In 1898 Imperial penny postage came in except for Australia and New Zealand, who would not agree to it until 1905. It was extended to America in 1908 but still Heaton was not content, and to the end of his days continued to advocate its extension to other countries.
Heaton's interest, however, did not only lie in the obtaining of reductions in the cost of postage. He was able to point out to the Postmaster-General various methods of saving costs, and as a result of his efforts considerable savings were made. Heaton made several visits to Australia where he had land and newspaper interests, and began to be recognized as its unofficial member in the house of commons. He several times refused a knighthood, but valued very much the bestowal of the freedom of the cities of London and of Canterbury in 1899. Heaton was a fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute and the Royal Society of Literature, and lectured to the latter on Australian Aboriginals. Chess was his favourite recreation; he also collected Australiana and at one stage owned the Endeavour journals of Sir Joseph Banks.
In 1912 while on a visit to Australia, Heaton was made a baronet, and on his return he was publicly welcomed at the Guildhall and given an illuminated album containing over a thousand signatures of well-known men. The postmaster-general, who could not be present, mentioned that in 1910 Heaton on his sixty-second birthday had sent him a list of 62 desirable postal reforms, several of which had already been carried into effect. In August 1914 he became seriously ill while travelling on the continent and died at Geneva on 8 September 1914. Lady Heaton survived him and his son John became second baronet. His Life and Letters by his daughter, Mrs Adrian Porter, was published in 1916.
Heaton was an amiable, persistent man. He had no special ability as a speaker but, specializing in everything relating to the postal department, he became a formidable critic, and brought about many reforms not only by reducing postage rates but in connexion with parcels post, telegrams, the telephone, and money orders. Underlying all his work was the feeling that the removal of obstacles to communications between different parts of the world would lead to better knowledge and better feeling between nations.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Sir John Henniker Heaton
- Mennell, Philip (1892). " Heaton, John Henniker". The Dictionary of Australasian Biography. London: Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource
|Parliament of the United Kingdom|
Title last held byAlfred Gathorne-Hardy
Robert Peter Laurie
|Member of Parliament for Canterbury
1885 – Jan. 1910
|Baronetage of the United Kingdom|
(of Mundarrah Towers)