Haliburton, Arthur Lawrence (DNB12)

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HALIBURTON, ARTHUR LAWRENCE, first Baron Haliburton (1832–1907), civil servant, third son of Thomas Chandler Haliburton [q. v.] and Louisa, daughter of Capt. Lawrence Neville, was born at Windsor, Nova Scotia, on 26 Dec. 1832. He was educated at King's College in that town, the oldest university in the dominion, from which he received in 1899 an honorary D.C.L. degree. He was called to the Nova Scotian bar in 1855, but a few months later he received a commission in the commissariat department of the British army, and during the later stages of the Crimean war he served as a civil commissary at the base in Turkey. After the Peace of Paris he was posted to the forces in Canada. In November 1859 he was appointed deputy assistant commissary general, and transferred to the London headquarters; in 1869 he was made assistant director of supplies and transports, resigning his commission in the army and formally entering the civil service. In this capacity he consolidated and greatly simplified the chaotic arrangements which regulated the transport and travelling allowances of the army at home. In 1872 he was appointed deputy accountant general in the military department of the government of India, which post he held till 1875; on returning to the war office he acted as chairman of a committee which brought about a much-needed decentralisation and effected substantial economies in that office. In 1878 he was appointed director of supplies and transport, and it devolved upon him to supervise the victualling of the army during eight campaigns, which included the Nile expedition of 1884-5. On the testimony of Lord Wolseley no army that he had been associated with was so well fed as the British troops were on that occasion, in circumstances of unprecedented difficulty. In recognition of his services, Haliburton was made C.B. in 1880 and K.C.B. in 1885. On the abolition of the office of civilian director of supplies and transports in 1887 he was placed temporarily on the retired list; but after serving on several important public inquiries at home and abroad he became in May 1891 assistant under-secretary for war, and in 1895 permanent under-secretary, which office he held till his retirement by operation of the age-limit in 1897. He was made G.C.B. in that year, and in 1900 was raised to the peerage under the title of Baron Haliburton of Windsor in the province of Nova Scotia and dominion of Canada.

In 1891 he served as representative of the war office on the committee, of which Lord Wantage [q. v. Suppl. II] was the head, to investigate the terms and conditions of service in the army. His dissentient report contained a strong defence of the principle of the existing short service system, and effectually neutralised the recommendations in the direction of modifying it upon which the rest of the committee stood agreed. In December 1897, after his retirement from the war office, he conducted a vigorous newspaper campaign in 'The Times' against Arnold-Forster [q. v. Suppl. II] and others on the same topic of ’Short versus Long Service.' His letters were subsequently reprinted in pamphlet form; as were also another series contributed to the same newspaper in 1901 on 'Army Administration in Three Centuries.' It is no exaggeration to say that he was the first to explain to the public generally, and to not a few among military critics, the real nature of Lord Cardwell's reforms and of the army reserve created by them. During his later years he became a convert to the principle of universal service, and a few weeks before his death he formulated in the pages of the ’Nineteenth Century' a scheme for universal military training. He died at Bournemouth on 21 April 1907, and was buried at Brompton cemetery. Haliburton represented the finest type of civil servant, uniting indefatigable industry with great lucidity of expression and breadth of view. He worked, moreover, in complete harmony with the military officials in the war office, and his opinion was held in high regard by those soldiers on the active list who were best versed in the problems of military administration. On 3 Nov. 1877 he married Marian Emily, daughter of Leo Schuster and widow of Sir William Dickason Clay, second baronet; she survived him without issue.

[Lord Haliburton, a Memoir of his Public Services, by J. B. Atlay, 1909; private information.]

J. B. A.