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Frederick Henry PIESSE

Frederick Henry PIESSE

Male 1853 - 1912  (58 years)

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  • Name Frederick Henry PIESSE 
    Born 6 Dec 1853 Northam, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Biography
    • Frederick Henry Piesse (1853-1912), merchant, agriculturist and politician, was born on 6 December 1853 at Northam, Western Australia, eldest of twelve children of William Roper Piesse, who had migrated in 1842 from London, and his colonial-born wife Elizabeth Ellen, née Oxley. William's police work embraced the agricultural districts of Toodyay, York, Northam and Guildford, his final term as sub-inspector being at Northam (1865-78). Social acceptance was based on clean, moral living; some education; family ties and connexions; and Anglican worship. The Piesse children carried these tenets into adulthood.

      Educated at Guildford and Northam State schools, Frederick worked in the Northam general store of George Throssell, a self-made man establishing an awesome financial empire. Frederick Piesse copied his employer's methods and community involvement. His younger brother Charles Austin (1855-1914) also worked for Throssell.

      In 1872, with Ernest von Bibra, Frederick followed the pearl-fishing industry in Shark's Bay. For five years from 1875 he worked in government service as a postmaster and telegraphist at Williams, a village south of Perth on the Albany road. On 18 October 1877 at Kojonup, he married Mary Jane Elizabeth Chipper, telegraphist and sister of mail-coach drivers; they had four sons and a daughter. Williams lacked a general store and trading post for kangaroo skins and sandalwood. In 1880 Frederick resigned (his successor being his brother Augustus William) and, with his brother Charles, launched at Williams the firm F. & C. Piesse. Next year a branch was opened at Arthur River, which Charles managed after he married Minnie Chipper, Frederick's sister-in-law. As their commercial enterprises prospered, the Piesses interested themselves in community affairs.

      In 1886 the government concluded a land-grant railway agreement with an English syndicate, the Western Australian Land Co., which agreed to construct, equip and run a railway between Beverley and Albany in return for extensive land-grants. The line was surveyed twenty-five miles (40 km) east of Williams and signified a decline in traffic along the Albany Road. The brothers set up a portable store to follow the railway's construction and to trade with gangers and nearby settlers. They bought hundreds of tonnes of sandalwood, already cut and heaped in the bush, and had it carted to the new railway-sidings. The final resting place for their portable store was at the midway halt or central station. The Great Southern Line opened in 1889 and the town of Katanning mushroomed round the central station's shunting yards and goods shed. It consisted at first mainly of F. & C. Piesse's buildings: a large weatherboard store with warehouse, machinery yard, and aerated water factory; their Katanning Hotel; a smithy run by another brother, Frank; and Frederick's commodious timber bungalow. Charles opened a branch store at the railway town of Wagin, to the north.

      They bought vast stretches of agricultural country near their respective towns from the land company. Their confidence and enthusiasm for the Great Southern was boundless; they promoted anything which would contribute to its progress and they were revered by the local citizens. In 1891 the firm built in the centre of Katanning a three-storey, electrically powered flour-mill. When the town achieved roads board status in 1892, Frederick became chairman.

      In 1890-1904 Frederick Piesse was member of the Legislative Assembly for Williams. A journalist described him as 'a patient plodder with good horse sense to carry him through'. From April 1896 he was commissioner of railways and director of public works. His brother Arnold Edmund took over management of the Katanning store and Augustus became postmaster.

      Settlers became increasingly dissatisfied with the land company because of its reluctance to release prime agricultural land at reasonable price and terms. Moreover, the company's tenants were not eligible for the benefits of the Homesteads Act of 1893. This entitled settlers elsewhere to a free block on condition that it was lived on and improved over seven years. The Piesses persuaded the government (enriched with goldfields revenue) to buy the Great Southern railway and release its land for selection. Henceforward settlement advanced apace.

      In 1897 Frederick Piesse was a member of the Australasian Federal Convention in Adelaide. In February 1899 he became, briefly, deputy premier, during Sir John Forrest's absence. It was a period of immense expansion, with demands for railways to the goldfields and newly opened agricultural areas and an unprecedentedly heavy government works programme including Fremantle harbour and the Kalgoorlie water-supply scheme. Piesse delegated too much to his public servants, with doubtful results. This, and his liberality, aroused criticism in parliament and among workers that he was a spendthrift and squandered public money. Also he failed to correctly appraise the growing railway union movement. Piesse asserted that he knew what was best for the workers and they should trust him. Amid mounting criticism— the Sunday Times lampooned him as 'the Piesse that passeth all understanding'— in August 1900 Premier Forrest demanded his resignation as commissioner because Piesse disagreed with Forrest's arbitration legislation. Next year, after Forrest's departure, he succeeded Throssell as leader of the Forrest group and in November carried a motion of no confidence in Premier George Leake, but was unable to form a ministry; the premiership passed briefly to A. E. Morgans, then Leake regained control. In 1904, with the formation of the Katanning constituency, Piesse was returned to the assembly as its first representative. He went back to live in Katanning.

      Frederick built for his family a mansion, Kobeelya, overlooking the town, and consciously assumed a 'big brother' role in local affairs, especially encouraging and assisting newcomers. The family lived and entertained lavishly to their ultimate detriment; their name became almost synonymous with Katanning.

      After 1902 the firm's wine industry improved outstandingly under the management of a German-born wine-maker, Carl Bungert. A battlemented brick distillery, built in Piesse's vineyard on the town's outskirts, eventually became a historic landmark. The firm's wines won prizes at the Perth Agricultural Show, and received gold medals in London and Paris.

      In 1908 Piesse was appointed C.M.G. and won his last and most demanding election, but failing health forced him to resign in 1909. His brother Arnold Edmund was elected unopposed in his place; Charles and another brother, Alfred Napoleon, also sat in the Western Australian parliament. One of Frederick's sons, H. V. Piesse, was a legislative councillor in 1932-44 and a nephew, E. S. R. Piesse, was a Commonwealth senator in 1950-52.

      Survived by his wife and children, Frederick died from cerebral haemorrhage on 29 June 1912 and was buried in the Anglican cemetery at Katanning. In 1922 Kobeelya was sold and became a private school for girls. After Frederick's death, residents commissioned sculptor P. G. Porcelli to design a larger-than-life bronze statue of him; this stands in the centre of Katanning. Piesse's estate was sworn for probate at £41,782.

      Merle Bignell, 'Piesse, Frederick Henry (1853– 1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,
      <"http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/piesse-frederick-henry-8047/text14035">http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/piesse-frederick-henry-8047/text14035
      , accessed 2 August 2013.
    Newspaper 31 Oct 1877 Kojonup, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [1]  – Marriage
    • MARRIAGE. PIESSE- CHIPPER.- On the 18th instant, at Kojonup, by the Rev. W. Wardell Johnson, Frederick Henry, eldest son of William Roper Piesse, Esq., of Northam, to Mary Jane Elizabeth,
      the eldest daughter of Thomas Chipper, Esq., of Kojonup
    Chipper Mary 1877 marriage article66301908-5-001
    Informant 4 Apr 1903 Perth, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Informant for death of his father-in-law William Chipper.
    Newspaper 11 Apr 1903  [2, 3]
    • Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885-1954) Saturday 11 April 1903
      MR. THOMAS CHIPPER.
      At Katanning on Sunday, Mr. Thomas  Chipper, who was believed to be the second white male child born in Western  Australia, died from a heart trouble at   the age of 72. He was the eldest son of Mr. John Chipper, who came out from   England in 1829. He was at one time  in his career contractor for the mails,  which had to be carried overland from Perth to Albany, sometimes taking a  week in transit. He had been living for  some considerable time past at Wagin,   but owing to failing heath was staying during the last few months at the resi- dence of his son-in-law, Mr. F. H.   Piesse, where his death occurred. Mrs.  George, wife of Mr. W. A. George, su-perintendent of the Fremantle prison, is  a sister of the deceased gentleman.
    Chipper Thomas 1903 Death article33269409-4-001
    Died 29 Jun 1912 Katanning, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Cemetery 2 Jul 1912 Karrakatta Cemetery, Railway Road, Karrakatta, , Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Piesse Katanning Cemetery.doc
    Buried 2 Jul 1912 Karrakatta Cemetery, Railway Road, Karrakatta, , Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I147 Turner
    Last Modified 2 Aug 2013 

    Father William Roper PIESSE,   b. 23 Sep 1827, Clerkenwell, London, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 22 Aug 1894, Newcastle, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 66 years) 
    Mother Elizabeth Ellen OXLEY,   b. Dec 1837, Perth, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 30 Sep 1915, Toodyay, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 77 years) 
    Married 1853 York Cemetery, York, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [4
    • Other children:
      PIESSE, Alfred Napoleon Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Guildford
      Reg Year: 1866 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 9452

      PIESSE, Augustus William Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Guildford
      Reg Year: 1858 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 4530

      PIESSE, Bertha Mabel Issabel Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Northam
      Reg Year: 1877 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 18197

      PIESSE, Elizabeth Mary Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Guildford
      Reg Year: 1861 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 6154

      PIESSE, Francis Ernest Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth
      Event Place: Northam
      Reg Year: 1869 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 11408

      PIESSE, George Albert Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Northam
      Reg Year: 1875 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 16229

      PIESSE, Selby Basil Harold Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Newcastle
      Reg Year: 1881 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 22172
      Died aged 74, in 1973 MOUNT YOKINE 

      PIESSE, William John Birth
      Father: William Roper
      Mother: Oxley Elizabeth Ellen
      Event Place: Guildford
      Reg Year: 1864 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 7608
    Family ID F568 Group Sheet,  Family chart

    Family Mary Jane Elizabeth CHIPPER,   b. 1854, Perth, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Est 5 Apr 1936  (Age 82 years) 
    Married 1877 Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  [5
    Children 
     1. Frederick Thomas Roper PIESSE,   b. 1878, William's Bridge, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   bur. 23 Aug 1925, Karrakatta Cemetery, Railway Road, Karrakatta, , Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 47 years)
     2. Harold Vivian PIESSE,   b. 1884, William's Bridge, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Est 14 Nov 1949  (Age 65 years)
     3. Melville Huburt PIESSE,   b. 1890, Katanning, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
     4. Florence Ethel PIESSE,   b. 1893, Katanning, Western Australia, Australia Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Yes, date unknown
    Last Modified 26 Feb 2004 
    Family ID F50 Group Sheet,  Family chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 6 Dec 1853 - Northam, Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 1877 - Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsNewspaper - Marriage - 31 Oct 1877 - Kojonup, Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsInformant - 4 Apr 1903 - Perth, Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 29 Jun 1912 - Katanning, Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsCemetery - 2 Jul 1912 - Karrakatta Cemetery, Railway Road, Karrakatta, , Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsBuried - 2 Jul 1912 - Karrakatta Cemetery, Railway Road, Karrakatta, , Western Australia, Australia Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Maps 
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Notes 
    • Title Biographies of members of parliament; Legislative Assembly. 
      Published 1901.  Summary Brief biographies of members of the 1901 Western Australian Legislative Assembly.
      Subject Western Australia. Legislative Assembly. 
      Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912.

      uthor Graham, Lesley. 
      Title A biography of Hon. F.H. Piesse, C.M.G / Lesley Graham. 
      Published 1957. Descript'n 14 leaves, [2] leaves of plates, bound : ill ; 42 cm.
      Note Typescript (photocopy)
      Thesis - Claremont Teachers' College.
      "HS/PR/1247.".
      Bibliography: leaf [15]
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Cabinet officers -- Western Australia -- Biography. 
      Western Australia -- Politics and government -- 1891-1901. 
      Katanning (W.A.) -- History. 

      Author Black David. 
      Title [F.H. Piesse - biographical notes and political career]. 
      Published 1990.  Descript'n port.
      Subject Piesse, F.H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in Black, David, 1936-. Biographical register of members of the Parliament of Western Australia, Vol.1 (1870-1930), p.161, B/328 BLA,(monograph), .b14592319.

      Title F. & C. Piesse Roller Flour Mill, Katanning [photograph] 
      Published 1901 Descript'n 1 photoprint : b&w ; 7 x 16 cm.
      Note Copyright or donor restrictions may apply.
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Piesse, Charles Austin, 1855-1914. 
      Premier Roller Flour Mill (Katanning, W.A.) -- Photographs. 
      Flour mills -- Western Australia -- Katanning -- Photographs. 
      Online image. 

      Title [F.H Piesse - biography]. 
      Published 1939. 
      Subject Piesse, F.H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in Katanning's jubilee, p.35-36, 994.12 KAT, (monograph), .b10722105.

      Author Bignell, Merle, 1927- 
      Title [F.H.Piesse - biography of merchant, agriculturalist and politician]. 
      Published 1988. 
      Summary Born 6 Dec.1853. Northam.
      Died 29 June 1912. Katanning.
      Subject Piesse, F.H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in Australian dictionary of biography, Vol.11 (1988), p.229-30, B/994, (monograph), .b11445555.

      Title [F.H.Piesse - obituary of F.H Piesse, MP, public man and good Church man]. 
      Published 1912.  Summary Born 6 Dec.1853. Northam.
      Died 29 June 1912. Katanning.
      Subject Piesse, F.H, (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in West Australian Church news, 1 Aug. 1912, p.138, 283.9411 WES, .b14277906. 

      Title [F.H Piesse - urged to seek re-election for Legislative Assembley seat of Williams]. 
      Published 1894.  Subject Piesse, F.H, (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in West Australian, 2 March 1894, p.6a, (newspaper), .b1674696x. 

      Title [F.H Piesse - visit to the Goldfields by Piesse as Commissioner for Railways and Director of Public Works]. 
      Published 1896. 
      Subject Piesse, F.H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in Coolgardie miner, 12 Dec.1896, p.3 a-g (newspaper on microfilm), .b17445334.

      Title Farm at Wagin (F. & C. Piesse's) [photograph] 
      Published 1901.  Descript'n ill.
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Piesse, Charles Austin, 1855-1914. 
      Farms -- Western Australia -- Wagin -- Photographs. 
      Found in Twentieth century impressions of Western Australia, p.340, 994.1 TWE (monograph on microfilm), .b 11942125.

      Title Harvesting (F. & C. Piesse's farm, Wagin) [photograph] 
      Published 1901. 
      Descript'n ill.
      Subject Piesse, Charles Austin, 1855-1914. 
      Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Harvesting -- Western Australia -- Photographs. 
      Found in Twentieth century impressions of Western Australia, p.340, 994.1 TWE (monograph on microfilm), .b 11942125. 
      Author Sprigg, Leonie.
      Title The Piesse brothers : F.H. & C.A. Piesse / Leonie Sprigg. Published 1970.

      Title Resignation of Hon F H Piesse, Commissioner of railways. 
      Published 1900.  Summary Contents of correspondence between Railway Institute Council and Commissioner for Railways.
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in Western Australian railway gazette, Vol. I, no. 3 (Sept. 1900), p. 6, 380 WES

      Title The vacant portfolios. 
      Published 1896.  Summary Piesse likely to accept portfolio of Commissioner of Railways and Public Works; career information.
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912. 
      Found in West Australian, 23 March 1896, p.5, (Battye newspaper), .b1674696x.

      Title 118 Aberdeen Street. 
      Published 2000.  Descript'n ill.
      Summary History of the building, built ca. 1897 once the home of the Hon. Frederick Piesse and later of Robert O. Law.
      Subject 118 Aberdeen Street (Northbridge, W.A.) -- History. 
      Piesse, F.H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912 -- Homes and Haunts. 
      Law, Robert O. -- Homes and Haunts 
      Found in Northbridge Urban Redevelopment Project conservation report, p. C20, 711.4099 PAL (monograph), .b19665908

      Title The first Legislative Assembly under responsible government [photograph] 
      Published 1901.  Descript'n port.
      Subject Western Australia. Legislative Assembly -- Photographs. 
      Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912

      Author Greenham and Evans
      Title Forrest Ministry, 1900 [picture] Published 1900. Descript'n 1 photoprint : b&w ; 40 x 50 cm.
      Note Copyright or donor restrictions may apply. Summary Front row: F. Illingworth, B. C. Wood, George Throssell, Sir John Forrest, H. B. Lefroy, R. W. Pennefather, F. W. Moorhead, Captain W. Oats. Middle row: F. H. Piesse, C. J. Moran, J. J. Higham, E. Solomon, C. Harper, Sir James Lee Steere, H. L. Hall, D. Forrest, F. Wallace, Alexander Forrest, N. K. Ewing. Back row: H. Gregory, T. F. Quinlan, W. Kingsmill, A. R. Grant, E. Locke, Unidentified person, W. J. George, J. J. Holmes, R. D. Hutchinson, A. B. Kidson, C. H. Rason, F. Wilson, R. Gale.
      Subject

      Title Hon. F.H. Piesse, M.L.A., Opposition Leader [photograph] 
      Published 1901.  Descript'n port. Summary Head and shoulders portrait.
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912 -- Photographs. 
      Found in Twentieth century impressions of Western Australia, p.38, 994.1 TWE (monograph on microfilm), .b 11942125.

      Author Bartletto.  Title Hon. Frederick Henry Piesse [photograph] 
      Published 1912-1913.  Descript'n port.
      Summary Portrait of the Honourable Frederick Henry Piesse.
      Subject Piesse, F. H. (Frederick Henry), 1853-1912 -- Photographs. 
      Found in Cyclopedia of Western Australia /edited by J.S. Battye, Vol. 1, p.359, 994.104 CYC (monograph), .b1063017x.

      Title Members of the Legislative Assembly, 1901 [photograph] 
      Published 1901.  Descript'n port.
      Subject Western Australia. Legislative Assembly -- Photographs. 

      Author Piesse, Claude L.
      Title [Correspondence and notes on the Piesse family in W.A. and on G.W.S. Piesse, founder of perfumery firm of Piesse & Lubin, London] Published [19--]

      Title [Piesse family- information on a former Katanning family] 
      Published 1987.  Subject Piesse family. 
      Found in Great Southern herald, 25 Nov. 1987, p.12, 994.12/GRE(newspaper), .b16807868. 

      Title [Press cuttings relating to Frank Wilson when Premier of W.A. in 1911; members of the Piesse family ca.1912-1930s; Linley Wilson (dancing) and Edith Wilson (kindergartens) 1930s] Published [1911-1930s]
      Title Katanning-Piesse Heritage Trail : a Commonwealth/State Bicentennial Project. Published [Perth, W.A. : W.A. Heritage Committee, 1988?]
      Descript'n [18] p. : ill., maps, ports. ; 21 cm. Note Cover title. Bibliography: p. [18] Subject Piesse family -- Homes and haunts -- Western Australia -- Katanning.

      Title [Frederick Henry Piesse - brief biography of MP] 
      Published 1901. 
      Subject Piesse, Frederick Henry, 1853-1912. 
      Found in Twentieth century impressions of Western Australia, p.34-35, 994.1 TWE (monograph on microfilm), .b 11942125.

      The founding father of Katanning was Frederick Henry Piesse, an entrepreneurial merchant who, seeing the potential that the Great Southern Railway would bring to the area, designed a mobile store to follow the railway's construction. It is wonderfully appropriate that the railway, which was being constructed from both Perth and Albany, met only 5.5 km from the present site of Katanning. The point where the two railways met is marked by a cairn west of town on the road which runs from Carew Street.
      The beginnings of Katanning can be described specifically because in May 1888 Piesse had three wagonloads of goods unloaded near Elijah Quartermaine's house and a heap of sandalwood was dumped beside the railway. This was the beginning of F & C Piesse's store which eventually became the town of Katanning. A statue of Piesse which was erected in 1916 stands beside the railway line in Austral Terrace.
      Katanning Flour Mill Museum
      In 1891 Frederick Henry Piesse built the Roller Flour Mill. It had the effect of encouraging farmers in the area to grow wheat and was very much at the heart of the town's early economic success. The mill, which is located prominently on the corner of Clive Street and Austral Terrace, is now the successful and interesting Katanning Flour Mill Museum. The machinery is still intact and the museum has a number of interesting displays recalling the early history of the town.
      Piesse's Buildings
      To appreciate the importance that Piesse had on the early development of the town it is worth noting that virtually every building between the Mill and Piesse's statue was either built by Piesse or built using bricks from Piesse's brickworks. The man's hand is on everything in the town. The Piesse Complex in Austral Terrace, now a modern shopping centre, was built in 1901 as a kind of department store. The Katanning Unit Hotel was built in 1889 using bricks from Piesse's brickworks and the King George Hostel, on the corner of Albion Street and Austral Terrace, was built for Piesse's son in 1913 and originally used to house mill workers.
      (Source<"http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/WAKatanning.shtml">http://www.walkabout.com.au/locations/WAKatanning.shtml)

      Katanning's oldest building is the Roller Flour Mill, built in 1891 by Frederick Henry Piesse, an early entrepreneur and the town's leading citizen. Henry and his brothers were instrumental in establishing the town by investing in many ventures including a winery, electrical and water supplies, an aerated water firm and many agricultural interests.
      (Source: <"http://www.allsydney.com/west/katannin.htm">http://www.allsydney.com/west/katannin.htm)

      Piesse, Frederick Henry (1853 - 1912), ,
      Born: Northam, Western Australia, Australia,
      Agriculturalist,
      Piesse was a successful merchant who virtually built the town of Katanning. He established a flourishing wine industry, making wines that won awards in Perth, London and Paris.,
      Career Highlights,
      Born 6 December 1853. Died 29 June 1912. CMG 1908. Began his working life at the Northam general store. Pearl-fishing industry, Shark's Bay 1872-75, postmaster and telegraphist, Williams 1875-80. Launched at Williams the firm F. & C. Piesse 1880, branch opened at Arthur River 1881. Set up a portable store in 1886 following the progress of the Great Southern Line, finishing up at Katanning. Bought agricultural land near the railway and in 1891 built a flour-mill in Katanning. Established a wine industry, making wines that won awards in Perth, London and Paris. Member of Legislative Assembly 1890-1900, 1904-09. , (Source: <"http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/biogs/P002487b.htm">http://www.asap.unimelb.edu.au/bsparcs/biogs/P002487b.htm)


      Piesse, Frederick Henry (1853 - 1912)

      Birth:
          6 December 1853, Northam, Western Australia, Australia
      Death:
          29 June 1912
      Cultural Heritage:

              * English

      Religious Influence:

              * Anglican

      Occupation:

              * federationist
              * general merchant
              * Member of Lower House
              * public servant
              * winemaker

          * Life Summary
          * Resources
          * Abbreviations
          * Article History

      PIESSE, FREDERICK HENRY (1853-1912), merchant, agriculturist and politician, was born on 6 December 1853 at Northam, Western Australia, eldest of twelve children of William Roper Piesse, who had migrated in 1842 from London, and his colonial-born wife Elizabeth Ellen, née Oxley. William's police work embraced the agricultural districts of Toodyay, York, Northam and Guildford, his final term as sub-inspector being at Northam (1865-78). Social acceptance was based on clean, moral living; some education; family ties and connexions; and Anglican worship. The Piesse children carried these tenets into adulthood.

      Educated at Guildford and Northam State schools, Frederick worked in the Northam general store of George Throssell, a self-made man establishing an awesome financial empire. Frederick Piesse copied his employer's methods and community involvement. His younger brother Charles Austin (1855-1914) also worked for Throssell.

      In 1872, with Ernest von Bibra, Frederick followed the pearl-fishing industry in Shark's Bay. For five years from 1875 he worked in government service as a postmaster and telegraphist at Williams, a village south of Perth on the Albany road. On 18 October 1877 at Kojonup, he married Mary Jane Elizabeth Chipper, telegraphist and sister of mail-coach drivers; they had four sons and a daughter. Williams lacked a general store and trading post for kangaroo skins and sandalwood. In 1880 Frederick resigned (his successor being his brother Augustus William) and, with his brother Charles, launched at Williams the firm F. & C. Piesse. Next year a branch was opened at Arthur River, which Charles managed after he married Minnie Chipper, Frederick's sister-in-law. As their commercial enterprises prospered, the Piesses interested themselves in community affairs.

      In 1886 the government concluded a land-grant railway agreement with an English syndicate, the Western Australian Land Co., which agreed to construct, equip and run a railway between Beverley and Albany in return for extensive land-grants. The line was surveyed twenty-five miles (40 km) east of Williams and signified a decline in traffic along the Albany Road. The brothers set up a portable store to follow the railway's construction and to trade with gangers and nearby settlers. They bought hundreds of tonnes of sandalwood, already cut and heaped in the bush, and had it carted to the new railway-sidings. The final resting place for their portable store was at the midway halt or central station. The Great Southern Line opened in 1889 and the town of Katanning mushroomed round the central station's shunting yards and goods shed. It consisted at first mainly of F. & C. Piesse's buildings: a large weatherboard store with warehouse, machinery yard, and aerated water factory; their Katanning Hotel; a smithy run by another brother, Frank; and Frederick's commodious timber bungalow. Charles opened a branch store at the railway town of Wagin, to the north.

      They bought vast stretches of agricultural country near their respective towns from the land company. Their confidence and enthusiasm for the Great Southern was boundless; they promoted anything which would contribute to its progress and they were revered by the local citizens. In 1891 the firm built in the centre of Katanning a three-storey, electrically powered flour-mill. When the town achieved roads board status in 1892, Frederick became chairman.

      In 1890-1904 Frederick Piesse was member of the Legislative Assembly for Williams. A journalist described him as 'a patient plodder with good horse sense to carry him through'. From April 1896 he was commissioner of railways and director of public works. His brother Arnold Edmund took over management of the Katanning store and Augustus became postmaster.

      Settlers became increasingly dissatisfied with the land company because of its reluctance to release prime agricultural land at reasonable price and terms. Moreover, the company's tenants were not eligible for the benefits of the Homesteads Act of 1893. This entitled settlers elsewhere to a free block on condition that it was lived on and improved over seven years. The Piesses persuaded the government (enriched with goldfields revenue) to buy the Great Southern railway and release its land for selection. Henceforward settlement advanced apace.

      In 1897 Frederick Piesse was a member of the Australasian Federal Convention in Adelaide. In February 1899 he became, briefly, deputy premier, during Sir John Forrest's absence. It was a period of immense expansion, with demands for railways to the goldfields and newly opened agricultural areas and an unprecedentedly heavy government works programme including Fremantle harbour and the Kalgoorlie water-supply scheme. Piesse delegated too much to his public servants, with doubtful results. This, and his liberality, aroused criticism in parliament and among workers that he was a spendthrift and squandered public money. Also he failed to correctly appraise the growing railway union movement. Piesse asserted that he knew what was best for the workers and they should trust him. Amid mounting criticism— the Sunday Times lampooned him as 'the Piesse that passeth all understanding'— in August 1900 Premier Forrest demanded his resignation as commissioner because Piesse disagreed with Forrest's arbitration legislation. Next year, after Forrest's departure, he succeeded Throssell as leader of the Forrest group and in November carried a motion of no confidence in Premier George Leake, but was unable to form a ministry; the premiership passed briefly to A. E. Morgans, then Leake regained control. In 1904, with the formation of the Katanning constituency, Piesse was returned to the assembly as its first representative. He went back to live in Katanning.

      Frederick built for his family a mansion, Kobeelya, overlooking the town, and consciously assumed a 'big brother' role in local affairs, especially encouraging and assisting newcomers. The family lived and entertained lavishly to their ultimate detriment; their name became almost synonymous with Katanning.

      After 1902 the firm's wine industry improved outstandingly under the management of a German-born wine-maker, Carl Bungert. A battlemented brick distillery, built in Piesse's vineyard on the town's outskirts, eventually became a historic landmark. The firm's wines won prizes at the Perth Agricultural Show, and received gold medals in London and Paris.

      In 1908 Piesse was appointed C.M.G. and won his last and most demanding election, but failing health forced him to resign in 1909. His brother Arnold Edmund was elected unopposed in his place; Charles and another brother, Alfred Napoleon, also sat in the Western Australian parliament. One of Frederick's sons, H. V. Piesse, was a legislative councillor in 1932-44 and a nephew, E. S. R. Piesse, was a Commonwealth senator in 1950-52.

      Survived by his wife and children, Frederick died from cerebral haemorrhage on 29 June 1912 and was buried in the Anglican cemetery at Katanning. In 1922 Kobeelya was sold and became a private school for girls. After Frederick's death, residents commissioned sculptor P. G. Porcelli to design a larger-than-life bronze statue of him; this stands in the centre of Katanning. Piesse's estate was sworn for probate at £41,782.
      Select Bibliography

      J. S. Battye (ed), Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1912); M. Bignell, A Place to Meet (Perth, 1981); Critic (Adelaide), 23 Nov 1901; Western Argus, 21 Jan 1902. More on the resources

      Author: Merle Bignell

      Print Publication Details: Merle Bignell, 'Piesse, Frederick Henry (1853 - 1912)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, Melbourne University Press, 1988, pp 229-230.
      <"http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110234b.htm?hilite=chipper">http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A110234b.htm?hilite=chipper

  • Sources 
    1. [S142] National Library of Australia, (<"http://www.nla.gov.au">http://www.nla.gov.au), Article identifier
      http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66301908
      Page identifier
      http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page6574404
      APA citation
      Family Notices. (1877, October 31). The Inquirer & Commercial News (Perth, WA : 1855 - 1901), p. 2. (Reliability: 3).

    2. [S161] Walker, Lorin, (<"http://community.ancestry.com.au/profile.aspx?mba=011b3f56-0001-0000-0000-000000000000">http://community.ancestry.com.au/profile.aspx?mba=011b3f56-0001-0000-0000-000000000000 Perth, Western Australia, Australia).

    3. [S267] Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885-1954), Article identifier     http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article33269409 Page identifier     http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-page3848233 APA citation     MR. THOMAS CHIPPER. (1903, April 11). Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885-1954), p. 11. (Reliability: 3).

    4. [S6] Western Australia Birth Death and Marriage Index, (Birth indexes - 1841 to 1932 Death indexes - 1841 to 1966 Marriage indexes - 1841 to 1936. <"http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/_apps/pioneersindex/default.aspx">http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/_apps/pioneersindex/default.aspx), (1853)/481 (Reliability: 3), 8 Dec 2002.
      PIESSE, William Roper Marriage
      Spouse: ,
      Marriage Place: York
      Reg Year: 1853 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 481

    5. [S6] Western Australia Birth Death and Marriage Index, (Birth indexes - 1841 to 1932 Death indexes - 1841 to 1966 Marriage indexes - 1841 to 1936. <"http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/_apps/pioneersindex/default.aspx">http://www.bdm.dotag.wa.gov.au/_apps/pioneersindex/default.aspx), (1877)/4409 (Reliability: 4), 23 Dec 2001.
      CHIPPER, Mary Jane Elizabeth CM 161535 Marriage
      Spouse: PIESSE, Frederick Henry
      Marriage Place: Kojonup
      Reg Year: 1877 Reg State: Western Australia
      Ref Number: 4409


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