Frederick Henry Piesse

Frederick Henry Piesse, CMG (6 December 1853 – 29 June 1912) was a farmer, businessman and politician who is credited with much of the early development of the region around Katanning, Western Australia.

Frederick Henry Piesse
Statue in Katanning

Frederick Piesse was born at Northam, Western Australia, on 6 December 1853. The son of policeman and magistrate William Roper Piesse and Elizabeth Ellen née Oxley, among his brothers were Alfred Napoleon Piesse, Arnold Piesse and Charles Austin Piesse, all of whom would follow Frederick into politics. Piesse was educated at state schools at Guildford and Northam, and began his working life at the Northam general store. Later he went pearl fishing at Shark Bay between 1872 and 1875. He was postmaster and telegraphist at Williams between 1875 and 1880. On 18 October 1877 he married Mary Jane Elizabeth Chipper, with whom he would have four sons and a daughter.

In 1880, Piesse partnered with his brother Charles to launch the general produce firm of F. & C. Piesse at Williams. He set up a portable store in 1886, and followed the progress of the Great southern railway, finishing up at Katanning. He then bought agricultural land near the railway and in 1891 built a flour mill in Katanning. He established a wine industry, making wines that won awards in Perth, London and Paris. An 1892 newspaper article described in detail a 24-acre (9.7 ha) orchard Piesse had created near to the township of Katanning which contained 2300 trees.[1]

From 1880 onwards, Piesse became increasingly involved in public affairs. He was a member of the Williams Road Board from 1880 to 1889, and its chairman from 1886. In 1889 he became a Justice of the Peace, and from 1889 to 1896 he was on the Katanning Road Board. From January 1894 to June 1896 he was also a member of the Board of Agriculture.

At the 1890 election, Piesse was elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly seat of Williams, becoming a member of the first Parliament of Western Australia under responsible government. From 1 April 1896 to 23 August 1900, he was Commissioner for Railways and Director of Public Works in the Forrest Ministry. He was a Western Australian delegate to the Federal Convention of 1897, and for a period in 1900 he was Acting Premier of Western Australia. During George Leake's first premiership from June to November 1901, Piesse was Leader of the Opposition.

In the 1904 election, Piesse stood for and won the new seat of Katanning. He would hold the seat until his resignation on 26 October 1909. For his last four years in parliament he was Father of the House. Piesse was made a CMG in 1908. He died at Katanning on 29 June 1912, and was buried in Katanning Cemetery.[2]


  1. ^ "AGRICULTURAL SETTLEMENT ON THE GREAT SOUTHERN LINE". The West Australian. Perth. 2 September 1892. A description of the agriculture round Katanning is necessarily incomplete without some reference to a "Piesse," and I will add a few details about the orchard being laid out by Mr. F. H. Piesse. This orchard is situated close to the town and has an extent of 24 acres. At present 2300 trees are planted, of which 1200 are different varieties of apples (early and late bearing), also 230 orange and lemon trees.
  2. ^ "Personal". The Critic. 3 July 1912. p. 5. Retrieved 22 June 2020 – via NewspaperArchive.
  • Bignell, Merle. (1988) F.H.Piesse - biography of merchant, agriculturalist and politician. Australian dictionary of biography, Vol.11 (1988), p. 229-30,
  • Graham, Lesley. (1957) A biography of Hon. F.H. Piesse, C.M.G Thesis - Claremont Teachers' College. Battye Library ref: "HS/PR/1247.".
  • F.H.Piesse - obituary of F.H Piesse, MP, public man and good Church man. West Australian Church news, 1 Aug. 1912, p. 138.
  • 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.