Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Edward Houghton Angelo (1870–1948)

by G. C. Bolton

This article was published:

Edward Houghton Angelo (1870-1948), politician, was born on 29 July 1870 at Jhansi (now in Uttar Pradesh), India, eldest son of Captain Edward Fox Angelo (1836-1902), who claimed descent from the ancient Calabrian family of Tremamondo Malavolti, and his wife Mary Colquhoun, née Fraser. He served with the 28th and 1st Regiments in the Crimea and India in 1854-78, retiring as lieutenant-colonel to become commandant of the Tasmanian forces in 1880-82. Appointed inspecting field officer in Western Australia in 1882, he resigned to become government resident at Roebourne (1886) and Bunbury (1889) before ending his career as superintendent of the Aboriginal prison at Rottnest (1890-97). He left a reputation as a gentlemanly and conscientious official, but too much given to formality and fuss.

Edward H. Angelo was educated at The Hutchins School, Hobart, and High School, Perth. He joined the Public Works Department in 1884 and became treasury clerk at Roebourne in 1887. On his father's departure he joined the local branch of the Union Bank, was transferred to Perth in 1892 and sent to open the Carnarvon branch in 1902. In 1907 he resigned to found a stock and station agency and was joined in 1914 by his brother Alexander Castell. Edward became chairman of the Gascoyne Race Club, two years president of the Carnarvon Chamber of Commerce, three years chairman of the Gascoyne-Minilya Road Board and mayor of Carnarvon in 1910-15. After such a record his election to the Legislative Assembly as Nationalist member for Gascoyne followed almost inevitably in 1917.

In politics Angelo was a single-minded and effective advocate of the development of the North-West. Never an aspirant to ministerial office, he left the Nationalists with Michael Durack to join the Country Party in 1920 because of North-West grievances, but returned later to his old allegiance. He urged the expansion of trade with south-east Asia and pushed the tourist potential of the North-West (he was a keen fisherman himself), but was less successful in advocating the Gascoyne district for dairying. His main triumph was the establishment of the banana-growing industry through irrigation on the Gascoyne. Having himself made the first experiment in local production in 1908, he pressed various governments until in 1930 F. J. S. Wise was appointed as tropical adviser to the Department of Agriculture and conducted research which encouraged further development. Land was thrown open for settlers, the first commercial crop was exported in 1932, and the industry is still the soundest example of tropical agriculture in the North-West. Ironically it was Wise who as a Labor candidate defeated Angelo at the 1933 elections; but in 1934 he was returned to the Legislative Council as Nationalist member for North Province and sat until 1940. He sometimes emerged from retirement to comment on northern development and penal reform, and contributed some vivid and valuable reminiscences of early days in the North-West to the West Australian in 1946.

A justice of the peace from 1903, Angelo was a local director of the Colonial Mutual Fire Insurance Co. and chairman of directors of Carnarvon Traders Ltd and Nor'West Plantations Ltd. On 22 February 1894 at Scots Church, Fremantle, he had married Frances Mary Peirl (d.1944); they had three daughters. He died at Mount Lawley on 1 October 1948 and was buried in the Anglican portion of Karrakatta cemetery. His estate was valued for probate at £4757.

Select Bibliography

  • West Australian, 4 May, 8 June, 27 July, 17 Aug, 14 Sept, 5, 19 Oct 1946, 3 Oct 1948
  • letters and newscuttings (privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

G. C. Bolton, 'Angelo, Edward Houghton (1870–1948)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 22 May 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


29 July, 1870
Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, India


1 October, 1948 (aged 78)
Mount Lawley, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

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