the OBITUARY of CHARLES HARPER 1842 - 1912 Guildford West Australia :: Genealogy
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the OBITUARY of CHARLES HARPER 1842 - 1912 Guildford West Australia

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LIFE of CHARLES HARPER 1842 - 1912
- politician, agriculturist, legislator, newspaper proprietor

the folloiwng was taken from the West Australian 22 April 1912
- (?) indicates not yet deciphered when transcribing
- all capitals are mine for easier name finding


... It is with profound sorrow that we have to record the death on Saturday morning, after a long and painful illness, of Mr Charles Harper, of Woodbridge, East Guildford, part proprietor of the "West Australian" newspaper. He died, it is true, in the evenng of life, and at the end of a career of usefullness, such as few indeed in Western Australian can boast of, but for all that his presence in the community, the example of his life and energies, the man himself could ill be spared and his death has created a gap which will not readily be filled.

It is some two years ago that Mr Harper first found that age had begun to weigh heavily upon him and though his indomitable will kept him ever on the path of industry, his frame could no longer stand a strain as of old.
A brief rest in a hospital was the next step but here again he did not allow himself the respite that was surely his due. Then came prostration and constant pain.
Perhaps he alone really knew the utter wearinness of the last few months.
All that unremitting care and loving attention could give was his, to no avail.
He bore his sufferings with a fortitude that might have been expected from an exceptional a personality, and when at times his fine physique and stamina enabled him to rally it seemed as if his courage and patience might after all meet their reward.
But it was not to be.
During last week his medical advisers and the members of his family viewed with alarm his rapid decline, and at half past 8 on Saturday morning peacefully, quietly and without pain, Mt Harper breathed his last.

Yesterday afternoon at the Karrakatta Cemetery there was witnessed one of the very largest public funerals that has ever been seen in the State. Though death had occurred only the day before, the sad news had spread with unwonted rapidity and the presence of so many hundreds of people representative of all classes of the community was indisputable evidence of the high public esteem in which the deceased gentleman was held and of the genuine regard which was universally entertained for him.
Earlier in the afternoon in the Guildford Church, of which Mr Harper had for many years been one of the chief pillars of support, a short service was held in place of the customary service in the mortuary chapel at the cemetery. The cortege arrived at a quarter to 3 and the sad procession was followed into the church by a congregation which filled it to overflowing. The officiating ministers were the Rev C.H.. Grimes who had been one of Mr Harper's most constant visitors during his illness; the Rev. A. Eddington, rector pro tem, of Guildford and the Rev. P.U. Henn, headmaster of the Church of England Grammar School in the foundation of which is the Guldford Grammar School. Mr Harper had been the movng spirit.

The service was fully choral and during its progress there were few indeed who did not show some signs of motion. To the strains of the "Dead March in Saul', played on the organ by Mr A.H. Montgomery, the procession moved from the sacred edifice and proceeded to the railway station, the hearse conveying the coffin being covered with beautiful wreaths and the choicest of white flowers.
On arrival at Karrakatta, the procession was reformed and augmented by many scores of persons who had joined the train at Perth and others who were awaiting it outside the cemetery, moving slowly to the graveside. It was the wish of Mr Harper that he should be buried there and indeed it would be hard to imagine more beautiful and more peaceful surroundings than those contained withing the four sides of that well kept burying ground.
The graveside was reached and the bearers laid their revered burden upon the supports placed to receive it. How plain and unostentatious was the casket - such was the wish of the departed one. It was of polished jarrah, unadorned save by the necessary mountings, which were in silver. Upon it was a silver plate having engraed on it, in Roman type, the simple epitaph "Charles Harper, died April 20. 1912 aged 69".

The Rev. E. MAKEHAM, representing His Lordship the Bishop, had now taken the place of the Rev. I.U. Henn. The prayers were read by the Rev A. Eddington, the closing sentences being said by the Rev C.H.D. Grimes.

Speaking with deep emotion, Mr Grimes then addressed a few words to those gathered about. It would, he said, be difficult indeed to adequately express his feelings upon so sad an occasion. Indeed the sadness was only tempered by the knowledge that at last pain and suffering were at an end for one who had borne it with such wonderful courage, manliness, fortitude and resignation.
Concerning Mr Harper's lifes work, few words of his would be necessary. He must be known to all for the manner in which he had enriched the State by his interests in agriculture, education, politics, journalism and in countless other ways. Not only in his public life had Mr Harper been known for the integrity of all his dealings, but his private life too had been blameless and completely untarnished.
All must feel the poorer for so great a loss, the loss of so invaluable a friend, so great a man. His place could not be filled. there had been in the past, and must be in the future, many great public funerals, but he questioned very much if there would be many more in which genune pubic regret was more widely marked than on that sorrowful occasion.
Measured by true standards a really great one had been taken from amongst them. But his memory remained, his works remained as monuments of his life and the example which Mr Harper had left behind must, he felt sure, be provocative of good for many years to come.

After a last look at the casket as it lay at the bottom of its resting place, mourners and friends turned away. The outward show was ended. There remained only the sorrow of the heart to which time, the great healer, may perchance some day, bring a softening influence.

The chief mourners were:
..Mr Walter HARPER, Mr Harcourt HARPER, Mr Gresley HARPER, Mr Prescott HARPER, Mr Wilfred HARPER (sons)
.. Mr James MORRISON, Mr Henry BROCKMAN, Mr Henry De BURGH (brothers-in-law), Mr Robert MORRISON, Mr James MORRISON jnr, Mr Sydeny De BURGH and Mr Ernest De BURGH (nephews).
The pall-bearers were:

Among those who also took part were:
.. Sir John FORREST, Mr Justice McMILLAN, Mr W.T. LOTTON,
Mr A.S. ROE, P.M., Mr James COWAN, P.M., Mr George LEFROY,
Mr B. SMITH, Messrs H. and C. and L. LUKIN, Mr Oct BURT, Mr R.A. SHELL, Mr H. SHOLL, Mr F.M. STONE, Mr Edmund BROCKMAN,
Mr T. S. McNULTY (representing the Agricultural Department),
Mr G. HICKLING (representing the Weld Club), Mr Fred. BURT,
Mr H. Carew REID, Mr E.S. BARKER, Mr Francis MOSELY, Mr M.M. MOSS,
Mr George PATTERSON, Mr T. OLIPHANT (representing the W.A. Producers' Union), Mr EDMOND, Mr C. FERGUSON, Mr R. FAIRBAIRN, the members of the literary staff of the "West Australian" and the "Western Mail", the employees of the Woodridge Nursery Co., and others.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by A.D. JONES and Co., of Guildford


.. Mr Harper was the son of an Anglican clergyman and was born at Nardi, in Western Australia, in the year 1843. He was educated privately, and at th age of eighteen he joined Messrs E. and A. DEMPSEY and D. CLARKSON in making an exploring trip through what is now known as the Southern Cross district in search of pastoral property.
The party were, however, unsuccessful in their search on that occasion.
In the year 1864, Mr Harper, accompanied by Mr CLARKSON an Mr L.B. LUKIN, made a more thorough examination of the country and came to the conclusion that it was too dry for pastoral purposes.
Two years later Mr Harper proceeded to the North-West and spent some time in exploring the interior. While he was up there two provision vessels named The Brothers and the Emma, were lost and Mr Harper immediately started overland for Champon Bay to obtain provisions for th nearly starvng people of Roebourne. He then determned to engage in the (?) and assisted to build a boat in Roebourne for the purpose.
This craft made her first voyage fro Cossack Creek in 1868. Mr Harper and Mr S.H. Viveash were in charge and took wth them aboriginal drivers. The drivers were, however, unable to raise shell from a sufficient depth to make the work very profitable and after navigating the boat for some time, Mr Harper proceeded to Beverley where he engaged in the pursuit of farming. The sphere there was, however, too narrow for his energies and in the year 1871 he returned to the North West with Messrs McKenzie GRANT and Mr A. (?) ANDERSON and took up the nucleus of what afterwards became the De GREY station of about one millon acres.
This station was the frst wool-raising property in the State where natives were utilised in (?) in the clip.

Pearling had now become more profitable and the firm in which Mr Harper had an interest startd with three boats, which were manned by natives from the station. The natives at the time proved as expert at diving as they were at shearing and it now became Mr Harper's practise to spend six months of the year on the pearling grounds and six months on the station.

In 1876 he paid a visit to England and three years later sold his share in the pearling industry to Mr John EDGAR.

In March of the latter year he married Miss Fanny de BURGH, daughter of the late Mr Robert de Burgh of Caversham, Guildford and sister of Mrs (?) MORRISON of Waterhall, Guildford and took up his residence at Woodbridge, close to his brides old home.
In the following year, when his first child, a son, was born, Mr Harper established, with Mr A. McRAE, a sheep station on the Ashburton River and in partnership with Sir Thomas Cockburn Campbell purchased the then Perth Gazette and West Australian Times which was issued three times a week. At a later period, following the retiremment of Sir Thomas Campbell, Mr (now Sir) J.W. HACKETT joined the firm as partner and very soon after the "West Australian" as it was then designated, became a daily paper.

Mr Harper began a long and useful Parliamentary career in the year 1878 when he was elected to represent the North Western Province in the old Legislatvie Council.
After two session there was a dissolution and Mr Harper did not seek re election.

Some nine years later he declined a nominee seat in the council, which was proffered by the then Governor, but was soon afterwards elected to represent the York and Beverley electorate in the Legislative Assembly.

On the introduction of Responslible Government, in the year 1890, Mr Harper headed the poll for the representation of Beverley and continued as member for that electorate until his retirement from politics in the year of the dissolution of 1905 - a period of 15 years.
As an indication of his standng in Parliament, it may be stated that he was elected Chairman of Committees on August 24 1897 and for some time prior to the death of Sir James Lee STEERE occupied the position of Deputy Speaker.
On the death of Sir James, Mr Harper was, in October 1903, appointd to the (?) but he retired from the post on July 28 of the following year.

In the House Mr Harper was looked upon as a thoughtful speaker and was one who always commanded a respectful and attentive hearing from all parties. He never rose to his feet without havng some useful and clearly expressed contribution to make to the deabte. His calm, judicial temprement was strikingly indictated in his speeches and if he had been more fiery in declaraton or had been a rancourous partyman, he would probably not have occupied the high position he did in the esteem of his fellow-members and the community at large, which set such value upon his impartial spirit and unclouded judgment.

One of the many important (?) whch Mr Harper took up during his life in Parliament was when he accepted the Chairmanship of the Commission which was appointed during the term of the Labour Government in 1904-05 to enquire into that whole question of immigration.
The report of this Commission was one of the most voluminous and withal informative documents ever presented to the local Parliament. In this report too, there was also advocated the construction of light agricultural railways for the purpose of opening up the country at a minimum of expense.

Mr Harper played many important parts in leading movements which have left their mark on the progress of the land of his birth.
When a Royal Commission was appointed to inquire into the condition of the yeoman class, to devise measures for liberalising the land laws and encouraging settlement, his special experience and judical cast of mnd marked him as one of th most eligible members of th board, whose (?) was adopted as the basis of subsequent legislation.

The creation of the Agricultural Bureau gave Mr Harper another opportunity of well-deserved distinction. The Bureau was formed for the purpose of using the agicultural class and fostering the natural resources of the country. It also acted as advising body to the Government in all that related to the cultivation of the soil and was entrusted with (?) spending powers in order that it might be of real service to pastoralists, fruit growers and farmers.
The choice of the chairmanship of this bureau fell upon Mr Harper whose tact, firmness and force of character admirably qualified him to fill the office with credit to himself and advantage to the public interest.
Under the auspices of the Bureau a "Farmers Parliament" was called each year and under the presidency of Mr Harper, the proceedings were conspicuous for harmony and the excution of a great deal of practical work.
Being himself, one of the largest fruit growers in the State at the time of his death and being the owner of part owner of numerous station properties, Mr Harper naturally had the greatest symmpathy for those who were struggling on the land.
It was chiefly though his instumentality therefore that in March 1902
a meetng of producers from all parts of the State was called at the Departmentof Agriculture with the object of taking steps to promote thefoundation of a Producers Co-operative Union.
A committee, of which Mr Harper was a leading member, was appointed to draw up a scheme, the outcome of which was the registration in October of the same year of the West Australian Producers' Union.
Mr Harper was the first, and at the time of his death, the only, Chairman and Managaing Director of the Union and be always placed all his influence and business experience at the disposal of the Union with a view to firmly establishing it and increasing the sphere of its usefulness.

Even in his earlier days, before the great mining development which brought the State so much more public attenton, he had supeme faith in the potentailities of theu State as a fruit-growing country to be planted prior to the big influx of population in the early '90s.

As some recognition of the valuable work which the deceased gentleman had performed in the cause of the agricultural industry, generaly at the last (1911) conference of Western Australian producers in Perth, the following resolution was carried - 'That this conference of producers, representing all sections of the agricultual community of the State, deeply regrets that Mr Charles Harper, who has occupied the position of president since the inception of the conferences many years ago, is prevented by serious illness from being present. The conference at the same time desires to record its recognition of the splendid servcies rendered by Mr Harper for the good of the State for over half a century. It recognises that for may years his chief and absornig interest has been the promotion of agricultural education and co-operation and hopes and believes that his example will serve as a stimulus to others in working unselfishly for the welfare of the State. The conference, while expressing its sympathy, earnestly hopes that Mr Harper may speeily be restored to health to continue his good work'.

Mr Harper possessed a considerable amount of inventive genius and amongst other things did a great deal towards demonstrating the possibilites of hitherto despised blackboy (so common in Western Australia), showing particularly the value of the pulp or pith as a stock food.
He was always to the fore in the trial of new and advanced agricultural machinery. He was undoubtedly the first in Australia to indicate the value of the pea crop for feeding off by sheep and although it was afterwards found that he was slightly anticipated in this in America, his work was without the knowledge of what was being done in Colorado.

Amongst the other positions which he filled for years past was that of a director of the Western Australian Trustee, Executor and Agency Co., Ltd.
He was also for many years a member of the local board of directors of the natioal Mutual Life Assurace Society.

Although essentially a practical man and living a life of strenuous, arduous work, Mr Harper was a thorough student and on his last trip to England three years ago interested himself keenly in the latest inventions, notably in the Brennan monorail which he greatly desired should be turned to account in Western Australia.

Mr Harper had also exhibited his interest in literature and the arts and sciences by his association with the committees of the Victoria Library, Zoological Garden and the Western Australia Museuem and Art Gallery.
Further, he was the founder and one of the governors of the Guildford Grammar School (now the Church of England High School) before the acquisition of that institution by the Anglican Church authoities and from the time of its establishment, he manifestd the deepest possible iterest in the welfare of the school and of the cause of education generally.

The late Mr Harper leaves a widow and five sons and four daughters with whom the greatest sympathy is felt.
The names of the children are: Walter (the eldest), Clara, Harcourt, Gresley, Prescott, Kitty, Maidie, Wilfred and Eileen.

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on 2011-05-05 10:23:36

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