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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Rose, Robert Henry (1833–1909)

by A. C. Staples

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

Robert Henry Rose (1833-1909), farmer, was born on 26 November 1833 at Stanton, Suffolk, England, eldest son of Robert Henry Rose, farmer of Stanton Hall, and his wife Elizabeth, née Canler. In 1837 his father aged only 32 died of tuberculosis. Rose, also prone to the family weakness, planned in 1851 to escape the Suffolk climate and accompany his sister Mary Ann, wife of Rev. James Leonard, to Western Australia but was delayed by a serious bout of measles. He reached Fremantle in the Merope on 25 May 1852, followed next year by his mother, brother, sister and cousin Thomas Hayward.

In August 1854 Rose opened a butcher's shop in Perth, but soon, under the supervision of his mother, took up land with Hayward to run cattle, first near the road between Mandurah and Bunbury and then on the Wedderburn estate near Brunswick. In 1855 he obtained the Parkfield grant near Leschenault Inlet, and on 26 March 1857 married Ann Bishop (d.1864), daughter of John Allnutt of Australind. He increased his holdings to 9000 acres (3642 ha) after purchasing cheaply 3000 acres (1214 ha) of the defunct estate of the Australind settlement (Western Australian Co.), other blocks from its shareholders who remained in England and J. S. Roe's 2180-acre (882 ha) grant. He also held extensive crown leases.

On land that he proved unsuitable for sheep, Rose was among the first in the higher rainfall districts to demonstrate the most appropriate land use in contrast to the small-farming Australind proposals. At Parkfield he had a large and profitable dairy herd, while cattle from the out-stations were driven to Perth for slaughter. Butter, salted in barrels, was sent north by schooner or sold in Bunbury. A ready market for Parkfield produce, including swamp potatoes, was provided by the townsfolk and the convict road gangs. Men and women immigrants, ticket-of-leave men and Aboriginals provided the farm work force.

Rose was a committee-man and chairman for eighteen years of the Wellington Roads Committee, a member of the local agricultural society and a justice of the peace. Tall, lean and black-bearded, he was an experienced horseman and a keen supporter and captain of the Wellington Mounted Volunteers. In 1892, afflicted by increasing deafness, he moved to Moorlands near Bunbury where he died on 30 November 1909 and was buried in the Anglican section of the Picton cemetery. He was survived by four sons of his first wife, by his second wife Elizabeth, née Teede, whom he had married on 22 July 1865, and their four sons and six daughters. His estate was sworn for probate at £7423.

Select Bibliography

  • West Australian, 1 Dec 1909
  • Rose diaries (State Library of Western Australia)
  • family papers and notes (privately held).

Citation details

A. C. Staples, 'Rose, Robert Henry (1833–1909)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1976, accessed online 1 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 6, (MUP), 1976

View the front pages for Volume 6

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