This fine postcard represents a local man’s goal to win a municipal election in Perth. One has to be impressed by the sincerity of his quest, which was far superior to other Australian colonial election postcards I have seen in the past 7 years. John Charles Chipper was surprisingly difficult to research partly due the fact that Chipper is not an uncommon surname in Western Australia.

The West Australian postcard with the printed brown ONE HALF-PENNY Swan stamp had a duplex PERTH/ 7/ NO 14/ 1890/ WESTERN AUSTRALIA postmark with a G.P.O obliterator and it was simply addressed to Mr. Jas Callaghan, Perth, who was probably a James Callaghan living at 44 John St. Perth in 1899 (Figure 1).

The reverse is worth quoting in its entirety:

CITY MUNICIPAL ELECTION, 1890. To The Electors of The West Ward, Ladies and Gentlemen: In compliance with your influential and numerously signed request, I have nominated myself as a candidate for your Ward at the election to be held on Monday 17th Nov. inst, and beg to solicit your support and interest. Should I have the honor to be returned, I shall at all times be anxious to carry out your wishes relative to the requirements of the Ward. I shall advocate the macadamizing of Spring, Roe, Charles and Rouse(?) Streets, the improvement of the existing foot-paths, and the making of new ones where needed, repairing and improving the drains, the alteration of the Railway crossing at William Street and Melbourne Road, and more lights, especially at the corners of the outlying streets. Yours faithfully,
N.B. – Hours of polling from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Please vote early (Figure 2).

I was able to identify information in the 1897 Western Australia Directory on page 301 concerning a John C. Chipper at Hosken’s Club Hotel, Geraldton, but there was no proof that he was the person who sent the postcard. A more convincing item was found in an 1893 pdf file of a Google digitised book (Wise’s Post Office Directory 1893-4) at the State Library of Western Australia on page 110 about Councillor J.C. Chipper under the Headings: MUNICIPAL: PERTH: West Ward: Cr. J.C. Chipper in the L.H. column, and CITY TREASURER: (Hon.) Cr. J.C. Chipper in the R.H. column. This information confirms the entry on the postcard that John Chipper was seeking re-election in November 1890 (Figure 3).

At this stage I requested the help of the librarians at the State Library of Western Australia to obtain more information and the following was found on a John Charles Chipper in the Bicentennial Dictionary of Western Australians. I have extracted what follows from the 17-line entry, which is a mass of abbreviations, some of which are vague in meaning. There was no mention of his being a councillor in Perth. John Charles Chipper was born in Perth on 26 May 1847 and died on 17 February 1906. He was a son of John and Mary Chipper, and John Charles married 3 times, the first in Perth in 1870; the second in 1883 after the death of his first wife in 1882; as well as for the third time during a trip to London ca. 1888; and, there were children of all 3 wives. John Charles was a hotelier, the licensee of the “John Bull Inn” later “The Criterion” in Perth. He owned 2 lots in Perth and employed 23 men between 1870 and 1886 in a labouring capacity, as well as a bookkeeper.

John Charles Chipper died in his home in Darlington, located in the hills to the east of Perth, on Saturday 17 February 1906, and was buried in the family vault at the East Perth Cemetery. The brief reports in the ‘West Australian’ and the ‘Daily News’ referred to him as a ‘colonist of 58 years’ and as the proprietor of the Criterion Hotel in Perth for more than 20 years. These reports did not refer to his municipal career. The ‘Minute Books’ of the Perth City Council confirmed that the Mr. J.C. Chipper was elected by the rate payers as a member of the West Ward in November 1890. He retired from the Council prior to the elections held in November 1893. A picture of J.C. Chipper is seen in Figure 4.

No information was found as to whether Chipper was able to influence the Perth Council to go along with his ideas to improve the West Ward’s streets and roads.

I acknowledge the fine assistance of research librarians at the State Library of Western Australia, Louise Kilpatrick and Tom Reynolds, as well as the research of Louise Read.

Categories: Political