Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Harold Bayard Piper (1894–1953)

by P. A. Selth

This article was published:

Harold Bayard Piper (1894-1953), judge and company director, was born on 26 April 1894 at Walkerville, Adelaide, third of eight children of Arthur William Piper, an English-born solicitor, and his wife Edner Elizabeth, née Counter, who was born in South Australia. Harold was educated at Prince Alfred College and at the University of Adelaide (LL.B., 1914) where he won a Stow prize. After completing his articles in his father's firm, Bakewell, Stow & Piper, he was admitted to the Supreme Court as a solicitor and barrister on 8 June 1915. Thirteen days later he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force. He served in Egypt and on the Western Front, and was discharged from the army on 4 June 1919, still with the rank of private.

Back in his father's firm, 'Bay' Piper developed a practice, mainly in commercial law. At the Flinders Street Baptist Church, Adelaide, on 7 June 1922 he married Dorothy Edna Smith. In 1922 he joined the Law Society of South Australia (councillor 1930, vice-president 1937-38) and in 1927 he became senior partner in Piper, Bakewell & Piper. A Freemason and a Congregationalist, he was sometime deacon at Stow Memorial Church. He kept his interest in cricket, football, tennis and golf, and became a keen gardener.

Piper chaired royal commissions into the holding of lotteries to raise funds for charitable institutions in 1936 and into changes to betting laws in 1937. On 15 February 1938 he was appointed a judge of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, which necessitated his moving to Melbourne. He acted (1939 and 1942) as judge of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory. In 1939 he investigated the cause of several crashes of Royal Australian Air Force bombers.

On 31 July 1941 Piper succeeded Sir George Beeby as chief judge of the Arbitration Court. From April 1942 to November 1944 he also chaired the Stevedoring Industry Commission. His excessive wartime workload led to health problems, initially with his heart and lungs, and then with his hearing. He took leave from the Arbitration Court in May 1946 and resigned in June 1947. Despite his lack of experience in industrial matters, he was widely respected for his honesty, sincerity and diligence, though he was 'not the strongest of judges'.

Active in the Australian Red Cross Society (chairman 1940-43, vice-president 1943-44 and honorary life member 1944), Piper was appointed an officer (1948) of the Order of St John of Jerusalem. He also served on the Victorian branch of the Boy Scouts' Association, the Braille Library of Victoria, the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia, the Victorian Society for Crippled Children and the Gowrie scholarship trust fund. In his retirement he undertook some legal work for the National Bank of Australia and became a director of Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd. Survived by his wife and their son, he died of cancer on 10 May 1953 at his Toorak home; having joined the Church of England, he was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • O. Foenander, Studies in Australian Labour Law and Relations (Melb, 1952)
  • M. Perlman, Judges in Industry (Melb, 1954)
  • R. W. Piper (compiler), The Abbotsham Pipers (Adel, 1993)
  • A2153, item Piper, H. B., A705, item 32/10/2387 (National Archives of Australia)
  • Piper papers (privately held).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

P. A. Selth, 'Piper, Harold Bayard (1894–1953)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 April, 1894
Walkerville, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia


10 May, 1953 (aged 59)
Toorak, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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