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Frederick Henry PIESSE


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Mary Jane Elizabeth CHIPPER

Frederick Henry PIESSE

  • Born: Dec 6, 1853, Northam, WA
  • Marriage: Mary Jane Elizabeth CHIPPER in 1877 in WA 1
  • Died: Jun 29, 1912, Katanning, WA at age 58

bullet  General 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.
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.

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.

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.

Piesse, Frederick Henry (1853 - 1912)
Born: Northam, Western Australia, Australia
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:

Piesse, Frederick Henry (1853 - 1912)

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

* English

Religious Influence:

* Anglican


* 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\emdash the Sunday Times lampooned him as 'the Piesse that passeth all understanding'\emdash 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.


bullet  Noted events in his life were:

• Informant, Apr 4, 1903, Perth, WA. Informant for death of his father-in-law William Chipper.


Frederick married Mary Jane Elizabeth CHIPPER, daughter of Thomas CHIPPER and Elizabeth MALEY, in 1877 in WA.1 (Mary Jane Elizabeth CHIPPER was born in 1854 in Perth, WA 2 and died in 1934 3.)



1 West Australia Birth Death and Marriage Index 1841-1905, (1877)/4409. CHIPPER, Mary Jane Elizabeth CM 161535 Marriage
Spouse: PIESSE, Frederick Henry
Marriage Place: Kojonup
Reg Year: 1877 Reg State: Western Australia
Ref Number: 4409.

2 West Australia Birth Death and Marriage Index 1841-1905, (1854)/2243. CHIPPER, Mary Jane Elizabeth CB 347974 Birth
Father: Thomas
Mother: Meleay Elizabeth
Event Place: Perth
Reg Year: 1854 Reg State: Western Australia
Ref Number: 2243

3 CHIPPER, Louise.

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