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Henry Beauchamp Lassetter (1860–1926)

by Bede Nairn

This article was published:

Henry Beauchamp Lassetter is a minor entry in this article

Frederic Lassetter (1828-1911), merchant, was born in December 1828 at Taunton, Somerset, England, son of Matthew Lassetter (d.1887), Wesleyan minister, and his wife Elizabeth, née Bedford. In 1832 the family migrated to Sydney where Matthew became a confectioner and pastry-cook. In 1837 he accepted a call to Longford, Van Diemen's Land, and in 1842 opened a school in Launceston but after his wife died he left his family and went to America.

In 1845 Frederic moved to Melbourne and worked as a sales clerk for the auctioneer, William Easey. On a visit to Victoria, G. A. Lloyd was impressed by Lassetter and about 1848 invited him to join his Sydney firm. Lassetter became a first-class accountant and expert in commerce. On 10 June 1850 he joined L. Iredale & Co., a hardware and general merchant firm founded in George Street in 1820. Lassetter revitalized the business, beating its competitors to buy goods from incoming ships by arranging for early receipt of signals and having a horse and row-boat constantly ready. He also devised a novel system of advertising and in 1851-52 traded on the goldfields with large loads of goods. In 1852 he married Iredale's daughter, Charlotte Hannah.

On 7 September 1863 the firm became F. Lassetter & Co. and moved to large new premises in George Street with a gala opening attended by the governor, premier and other notables. An outstanding innovator, Lassetter formed a limited company in 1878 and by 1890 was the head of one of the biggest hardware firms in Australia, with warehouses in York and Clarence Streets. In 1894 he enlarged his George Street show-rooms to occupy much of the western block between Market and King Streets, and transformed his firm into a general emporium. His Monthly Commercial Review, a 'complete general catalogue', circulated throughout Australia giving details of the vast array of goods in stock. In 1894-1906 he published the Australian Field, 'a journal for squatters, sportsmen, farm & fireside, etc'; his other publications included a pamphlet on the rules of lawn tennis. By 1910 Lassetter had one of the largest businesses in Sydney with nearly 1000 employees who had part in a profit-sharing scheme. Survived by his wife, four sons and two daughters, Lassetter died of a stroke on 5 September 1911 at Redleaf, Double Bay, and was buried in the Anglican section of South Head cemetery. His estate was valued at £231,311.

His son, Henry (Harry) Beauchamp, was born at Edgecliff on 19 March 1860. Educated at Cheltenham, Eton and Sandhurst, he joined the 38th Regiment as second lieutenant in 1880; next year he became a lieutenant in the 80th Regiment and in 1884 was in the Nile expedition. A captain in 1887 he returned next year to New South Wales as a major and raised and trained the Mounted Rifle Brigade. Promoted lieutenant-colonel in 1895, he led a detachment to England for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee and headed the colonial escort in the procession. In 1901-02 he commanded the New South Wales Mounted Rifles in the Boer war, was mentioned in dispatches and created C.B. Associated with his father's firm from 1891, he became managing director in 1911 and in 1915 returned to England and took command of a territorial brigade. Promoted brigadier-general, he was appointed C.M.G. in 1917. He returned to Sydney in 1924 and died on 17 February 1926, survived by his wife Elizabeth Ann, née Antill, whom he had married at Picton on 19 August 1891, and by one son. He was buried in the Anglican section of South Head cemetery and left an estate of £3240.

Select Bibliography

  • F. Lassetter & Co. Ltd, Sixty Years an Employer (Syd, 1910)
  • Retail Traders' Assn of New South Wales, Journal, July 1923
  • Town and Country Journal, 22 June 1910
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 6 Sept 1911, 18 Feb 1926.

Additional Resources

Citation details

Bede Nairn, 'Lassetter, Henry Beauchamp (1860–1926)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 14 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

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