TEMPLETON, John Montgomery (1840-1908)


TEMPLETON, John Montgomery (1840-1908)
author of non-forfeiture clause in life assurance policies
was born at Kilmaurs, Ayreshire, Scotland, on 20 May 1840. He was the eldest son of Hugh Templeton, a school teacher, who brought his family to Victoria at the end of 1852. The boy entered the education department as a teacher, but in 1868 became an accountant in a fire insurance office. In 1869 he formed the National Mutual Life Association, paying the first premium himself on his own life, and personally securing the first 100 members. He was made the first secretary, and having been elected a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries in 1872, as actuary to the association, made its first valuation. In 1884 he left life assurance to become one of the three commissioners under the public service act of 1883, appointed to establish the principle that promotion should depend on merit and seniority. He retired from this position in 1888, and as a public accountant was in 1890 appointed liquidator of the Premier Permanent Building Society. He also joined the board of directors of the National Mutual Life Association, and in 1896 became chairman and managing director. He held this position for the remainder of his life.
Apart from his business life Templeton had important positions in connexion with the volunteers, the militia, and the rifle clubs. He joined the volunteers as a private when he was 19 and rose to the rank of major. He was a first-rate rifle shot and represented Victoria in the first inter-colonial rifle match. The volunteer force was disbanded at the end of 1883 and the militia was formed. Templeton was made a lieutenant-colonel and a member of the Victorian council of defence, holding this position until December 1897. He was promoted colonel in 1895, and was captain of the Victorian rifle team which went to Bisley in 1897 and won the Kolapore Cup. As senior officer from all the colonies he rode on the right of the leading section of the colonial procession at the diamond jubilee. He was shortly afterwards created C.M.G. On his return to Australia he went on the reserve of officers, but when the rifle club movement began in 1900 he was appointed to take command of it. Within a year the rifle clubs had a membership of over 20,000. Templeton gave a lecture in the town hall, Melbourne, to commemorate this movement on 29 July 1900. It was published with additions in March 1901 under the title The Consolidation of the British Empire, the Growth of Citizen Soldiership, and the Establishment of the Australian Commonwealth. He died at Melbourne on 10 June 1908. He was married twice and was survived by his widow. He had no children.
Templeton twice attempted to enter parliament. He was narrowly defeated for a seat in the Victorian legislative assembly in 1893, and he was one of the unsuccessful candidates for the senate at the federal election in 1903. His work in connexion with citizen defence was important, but his introduction of the non-forfeiture principle into life assurance policies was much more so. He was not responsible for the original idea, something like it, but not going so far, was made law in the state of Massachusetts, United States of America, in 1861. Templeton, however, in 1869 introduced a clause in the policies of the newly formed National Mutual Life Association which provided that overdue premiums would automatically be advanced against the surrender value until the surrender value was exhausted. The principle was adopted by other companies, and has proved of the greatest benefit to an immense number of people.
The Argus, Melbourne, 11 June 1908; The Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903; A Guide to Melbourne (issued by the National Mutual Life Association about 1879); First actuarial report of the National Mutual Life Association, 16 February 1875.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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