Charles Harper (politician)
Charles Harper (15 July 1842 – 20 April 1912) was a pastoralist, newspaper proprietor and politician in colonial Western Australia.
The son of Church of England minister the Reverend Charles Harper and Julie Gretchen Harper née Lukin, Charles Harper was born at Nardi, near Toodyay in Western Australia. He was educated privately, and eventually farmed at Beverley. In 1861 and again in 1864, he explored with other pioneers in the Yilgarn district.
From 1866, he was heavily involved in the pastoral industry. He was a pastoralist in the north-west of the state until 1868, overlanding to Geraldton in 1867 to secure provisions for Roebourne. From 1868 to 1870, he was involved in the pearling industry. He then briefly farmed at Beverley, before returning to the north west in 1871. He went into partnership with McKenzie Grant and Edgar in a de Grey sheep station, and was involved in the pearling industry until 1879.
On 28 March 1878, Harper was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Council for the North District seat, in a by-election occasioned by the resignation of Thomas Burges. He held the seat until the election of 12 March 1880, which he did not contest. On 1 March 1879, he married Fanny de Burgh, thereby becoming brother-in-law to Henry Brockman and James Morrison. They would have six sons and four daughters.
In 1880, Harper partnered with Alexander McRae in a pastoral venture on the Ashburton. That year he also became a newspaper proprietor for the first time, becoming part owner of the Western Australian Times with John Winthrop Hackett. In 1884 these two men became joint owners of The West Australian. In 1885 they commenced the publication of the first Western Mail.
On 27 October 1884, Harper entered parliament for the second time, having won the Legislative Council seat of York. In 1885, he built a house in Guildford, which he named Woodbridge; the house still stands and is now part of the National Trust. In 1887 he was a member of the Agricultural Commission.
Harper held his Legislative Council seat until 21 October 1890, at which time the Legislative Council became fully nominative. He then contested and won the Legislative Assembly seat of Beverley. From June 1894, he was Father of the House in the Legislative Assembly. In 1895 he opened a school at Guildford, which would later be taken over by the Church of England as Guildford Grammar School. He was appointed Chairman of Committees of the Legislative Assembly on 24 August 1897, holding the appointment until 2 December 1903, when he took up an appointment as Speaker. He stepped down as Speaker on 28 July 1904, and from his seat on 27 October 1905. In 1905, he was chairman of the Immigration Commission.
- "Late Charles Harper.". Northern Times (Carnarvon, WA : 1905 – 1952) (Carnarvon, WA: National Library of Australia). 27 April 1912. p. 3. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- Black, David and Bolton, Geoffrey (2001). Biographical Register of Members of the Parliament of Western Australia, Volume One, 1870–1930 (Revised Edition ed.). Parliament House: Parliament of Western Australia. ISBN 0730738140.
- Kimberly, W.B. (compiler) (1897). History of West Australia. A Narrative of her Past. Together With Biographies of Her Leading Men. Melbourne: F.W. Niven.
- Mercer, F. R. (1958). The Life of Charles Harper of Woodbridge. Perth: Westralian Farmers Co-operative Printing Works.