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Frederic Dudley North (1866–1921)

by Ruth Marchant James

This article was published:

Frederic Dudley North (1866-1921), civil servant, was born on 9 November 1866 at Kensington, London, son of Charles Augustus North, gentleman, and his wife Rachel Elizabeth, daughter of the artist Sir Francis Grant. The prime minister, Lord North, was an ancestor. Frederic Dudley was educated at Rugby School where he was a member of the cricket team.

He arrived in Perth in 1886 and on 1 January 1887 became a junior clerk in the Lands Department. On 19 January, he married Flora Frances, daughter of pioneer landowner Edward Hamersley, and sister-in-law of (Sir) John Forrest; they had two daughters and two sons. From 1891 North was clerk of the Executive Council and secretary to the premier, Forrest, and in 1894 aide-de-camp to Governor Sir William Robinson. He accompanied Forrest to England to Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee celebrations, and he represented Western Australia on the royal reception committee welcoming the Duke and Duchess of York to the opening of the first Federal parliament. In 1902 North became under-secretary and permanent head of the Colonial Secretary's Department, and was appointed C.M.G. He was criticized for receiving favoured treatment because of his family connexions. Others argued that 'this courteous and gentlemanly person' was 'well qualified to fill any position to which fate may call him'. The first permanent head to join the Civil Service Association of Western Australia, North was its president in 1908-11. From 1912 he was also comptroller-general of prisons.

North was stocky, with a ruddy complexion; his nickname 'Piggy' followed him into adult life. He was cultured, and a talented singer, who with his wife did much to advance the appreciation of music in Perth; but many acquaintances found his aristocratic, prim, English manner autocratic. He organized the first Western Australian intercolonial cricket team (in 1893) and represented the State at tennis. The Norths built Catlidge, a two-storied house in Forrest Street, Cottesloe, with a pseudo-Norman tower overlooking the Indian Ocean. Much later it became the clubhouse for the Sea View Golf Club which North had founded in 1909. He was mayor of Cottesloe in 1913-16.

North retired in 1920 on medical advice. On 22 August 1921, after a round of golf, he collapsed and died from heart disease. He was buried in Karrakatta cemetery. He had died intestate, apparently in debt.

His son Charles Frederic (1887-1979) was born on 14 September 1887 in Perth. Educated at Rugby School and the University of Oxford, he was called to the English Bar in 1912 and served as a captain with the Royal Air Force in World War I. He was Nationalist, United Australia Party and Liberal member for Claremont in the Legislative Assembly in 1924-56, and Speaker in 1947-53. He died in Perth on 30 September 1979.

Select Bibliography

  • Truthful Thomas, Through the Spy-Glass (Perth, 1905)
  • J. S. Battye (ed), Cyclopedia of Western Australia, vol 1 (Adel, 1912)
  • Inquirer (Perth), 26 Jan 1887
  • West Australian, 23 Aug 1921
  • personal file, 1919, CSO (State Records Office of Western Australia).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Ruth Marchant James, 'North, Frederic Dudley (1866–1921)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

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