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Frédéric Guillaume de Pury (1831–1890)

by G. G. De Pury

This article was published:

Frédéric Guillaume de Pury (1831-1890), wine-grower, was born on 15 December 1831 at Neuchâtel, Switzerland, the eldest son of Edouard Charles Alexandre de Pury and his second wife, Julie de Sandoz-Travers. His father was a member of the Grand Council of Neuchâtel, and the family bore the hereditary title of baron, given them by Frederick II of Prussia. In 1851 Guillaume went to England to study English and agriculture and on 6 May 1852 he sailed for Victoria. There he first tended cattle at Yering, a property in the Yarra valley owned by Paul de Castella. In 1855 with C. H. de Castella he bought Dalry, a former out-station of Yering.

Guillaume was joined at Dalry by his brother Samuel (1836-1922) who had just arrived from Switzerland. In 1857 Samuel arranged to plant a hundred acres (40 ha) of vines on Yering but lost money after two years and relinquished the contract to Joseph Deschamps. In 1860 he bought a part of Yering near Lilydale and named it Cooring Yering. There he planted a vineyard of ten acres (4 ha) and built a house and wine cellar. In Switzerland six years later he became engaged; he returned to Victoria in 1867 but after his marriage in Switzerland next year to Louise Augusta Albana de Coulon he remained in Europe. Cooring Yering was sold in 1870. Samuel had taken a keen interest in the development of the Yarra valley area. He was a magistrate and in 1862 first president of the Upper Yarra District Roads Board and a member of it until he left the country.

Guillaume sold Dalry in 1858 and rented land on near-by Killara to graze sheep and breed horses. He visited Switzerland in 1861 while his brother looked after his interests at Killara. In 1863 with George Langdon he bought from Paul de Castella's creditors 900 acres (364 ha) of Yering which he called Yeringberg, and began a vineyard there. He bought out Langdon in 1869. Yeringberg was later enlarged to 1160 acres (469 ha) with some 60 acres (24 ha) under vines and the remaining area for grazing. By the mid-1880s de Pury had built cellars capable of storing over 30,000 gallons (136,407 litres) of wine and was making over 20,000 gallons (90,922 litres) a year, much of it exported to England. The three vineyards of Yeringberg, St Hubert's and Yering were pioneer developments of the wine industry in the Lillydale district. However, profits declined and by 1921 when the vines of Yeringberg were uprooted wine production in the area had almost ceased. The dry table wines of the district were famous for lightness and quality. Wines made by Guillaume and later by his elder son George won gold medals in London, Bordeaux, Paris, Brussels and San Francisco, as well as many prizes in Australia.

Guillaume was a leader of the Swiss community of Lilydale. In 1875-90 he was consul for the Swiss Confederation in Melbourne. He became a justice of the peace in 1862 and was a member of the Upper Yarra District Roads Board for twenty-one years. When Lillydale was proclaimed a shire in 1872 he was one of its first councillors and president for nine years. He and his wife gave substantial support towards building the Church of England at Lilydale. Guillaume took an interest in the Aboriginals of the Yarra tribe; he was a friend and adviser of Barak who often visited Yeringberg, and in 1881 served on a government inquiry into the condition of the Aboriginal station at Coranderrk.

On 2 February 1869 at St James's Cathedral, Melbourne, Guillaume married Adelaide Augusta, the eldest daughter of Charles Ibbotson of Geelong; they had two sons, George Alphonse (1870-1956) and Montague Edouard Victor (1873-1961). In 1883 the family visited Switzerland and returned to Victoria next year, leaving George to study in Neuchâtel. Guillaume was appointed a commissioner of the 1888 International Exhibition in Melbourne. Although his health was deteriorating he made two more trips to Switzerland and on the second died suddenly at Lausanne on 11 November 1890.

Select Bibliography

  • H. de Castella, John Bull's Vineyard. Australian Sketches (Melbourne, 1886)
  • A. Sutherland et al, Victoria and its Metropolis, vol 2 (Melbourne, 1888)
  • A Deschamps, Back to Lilydale Re-Union (Lilydale, 1931)
  • F. de Castella, ‘Early Victorian Wine-Growing’, Victorian Historical Magazine, vol 19, no 4, Dec 1942, pp 140-68
  • L. J. Peel, ‘Viticulture at Geelong and Lillydale’, Victorian Historical Magazine, vol 36, no 4, Nov 1965, pp 154-73
  • Age (Melbourne), 14 Nov 1890
  • Lilydale Express, 2 May 1891
  • family papers (privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

G. G. De Pury, 'de Pury, Frédéric Guillaume (1831–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 17 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • de Pury, Frederic Guillaume

15 December, 1831
Neuchatel, Switzerland


11 November, 1890 (aged 58)
Lausanne, Switzerland

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