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Harper, Charles (1842–1912)

from Sunday Times (Perth)

We regret to announce the death of Mr. Charles Harper, of Woodbridge, ex-M.L.A. and one of the proprietors of the West Australian. The deceased gentleman had been ailing for some time. His demise, which occurred early yesterday morning, was not unexpected.

The late Mr. Harper, who was the son of an Anglican clergyman, was born at Nardi in 1843. He received a private education, and at the age of 18 commenced an eventful career by joining Messrs. Dempster and Clarkson in an exploring trip in the now Southern Cross district in search of pastoral property. Golden Valley, and Yilgarn were visited, but without success. Accompanied by Messrs. Clarkson and Lukin he went out and made a father examination of the country is 1864, but found it too dry for pastoral purposes.

Two years later he journeyed to the North-west and put in a year examining the country in that district. Becoming convinced of the immense possibilities of the pearling industry, he had a boat constructed, and made the first voyage with aboriginal divers in 1868. The natives proved unskilful, and he gave up the venture, and later commenced farming in the Beverley district.

Not finding this to his liking, Mr. Harper returned to the North-West, and together with Messrs. McKenzie Grant and A. E. Anderson took up what is now De Grey Station. Soon after this pearling attracted him again, and with three boats manned by aboriginals from the station his firm made good headway. The station proved a valuable concern, and well repaid their enterprise.

The late Mr. Harper made a pleasure trip to England in 1876, and in 1879 he married Miss de Burgh, daughter of Mr. Robert de Burgh, of "Caversham," Guildford. Next year he purchased the Perth Gazette and West Australian Times, taking as his partner in this enterprise the late Sir Thomas Cockburn Campbell. They shortly afterwards published the latter paper as a tri-weekly under the title of the West Australian. Sir Winthrop Hackett joined the firm later on and the paper was published as a daily and the Western Mail established.

The deceased gentleman's political career commenced in 1878, when he was elected to represent the North-western Province in the old Legislative Council. He retired from the seat two sessions later, but on the introduction of Responsible Government was elected for the Beverley district, which seat he held until his ultimate retirement in 1905.

In addition to his many other interests, the late Mr. Harper, was prominently interested in agricultural and horticultural industries. He was connected in his time with many public institutions, and on the whole he led a useful and busy life. The deceased gentleman leaves nine children (five sons and four daughters) to mourn their loss.

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Citation details

'Harper, Charles (1842–1912)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/harper-charles-3721/text24586, accessed 25 May 2019.

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