The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Heaton, John Henniker

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Heaton, John Henniker, M.P., was born at Rochester, Kent, on May 18th, 1848, and educated at Kent House Grammar School and at King's College, London. At sixteen years of age he emigrated to Australia, where he engaged in pastoral pursuits, acquiring " colonial experience," and afterwards became connected with the press. He returned to England in 1884. He was one of the Commissioners for New South Wales to the Amsterdam Exhibition in that year, and in 1885 represented Tasmania at the Berlin International Telegraphic Conference, where he was largely instrumental in securing a reduction in the cable charges between England and Australia. He also interested himself in obtaining a modicum of representative government for the colony of Mauritius, which he had visited en route from Australia to England. At the general election in Nov. 1885 Mr. Heaton was returned to the House of Commons for the city of Canterbury in the Conservative interest, and in the following year was re-elected unopposed. During his Parliamentary career he has made himself prominent by his persistent attempts to reduce the cost of postal and cable communication between England and the colonies, India, and America. Mainly as the result of his exertions and the powerful assistance afforded to him by the publicity given to his contentions in the Times newspaper, the reduction of the Anglo-Colonial postage to twopence-halfpenny was brought into effect in Jan. 1891. Mr. Heaton is now intent upon the inauguration of an universal penny postal rate of intercommunication between all parts of the empire and America. Recently, in conjunction with an Australian and an English capitalist, he offered to guarantee the Imperial Government against the annual loss (estimated by Mr. Goschen at £75,000) which such an extension of the penny post might presumably occasion. The offer was, however, declined by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but the change is now brought within measurable distance of achievement, mainly owing to Mr. Heaton's indefatigable efforts. Mr. Heaton is the author of a valuable work of reference entitled "The Australian Dictionary of Biography and Men of the Time," published in 1880. Though now somewhat out of date, it must largely form the basis of all subsequent works of a similar kind. Mr. Heaton has also written one or two other brochures of a minor character. In 1873 he married Rose, only daughter of S. Bennett, of Mundarrah Towers, N.S.W.