This long On Her Majesty’s Service cover has a purple COLONIAL SECRETARY’S OFFICE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA frank stamp and a duplex SHIP MAIL ROOM/ 2/ FE 2/ 99/ PERTH W.A. with the GPO obliterator, as well as a double oval COLONIAL SECRETARY’S OFFICE/ (—) FEB 99/ PERTH W.A. marking at the lower L. side, plus a circular PAID/ OFFICIALLY/ WEST AUSTRALIA. It was addressed to The Acting Secretary, Civil Service Commission of the United States, Washington U.S.A. (Figure 1).

The reverse has no postmark but has a red crest of Western Australia on the flap (Figure 2).

The United States Civil Service Commission was created by the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act which was passed into law on 16 January 1883. The commission was created to administer the civil service of the Federal Government in response to the assassination of the 20th U.S. President James Abram Garfield by Charles Guiteau a lawyer, who was a rejected office seeker for the position of Ambassador to France. The shooting occurred on 2 July 1881, but Garfield’s death from infection and internal hemorrhage did not occur until 19 September 1881.

The Colonial Secretary for Western Australia from 1898 until 1901 was George Randell who was born on 5 October 1830 at Milton, Hampshire, England who migrated to Western Australia and prospered as a carpenter and mechanic, later becoming a merchant. In 1863 in partnership with Solomon Cook, he started the first regular steamship service on the Swan River, between Fremantle and Guildford. On the death of his second wife in 1869 he sold his shipping interests and returned to England in 1878. He was back in W.A. in 1880 and reinvested in shipping and retained his interest at least to 1900.

Randell first entered civic politics in 1870 and was mayor of Perth in 1884-86. In 1875-77 he represented Perth in the Legislative Council and represented Perth in the Legislative Assembly in 1890 until he resigned in 1892. He returned to the assembly in 1894 as member for Perth, was elected as leader of the opposition, but resigned after 12 months. He was again elected to the legislative council and in 1898 became government spokesman, colonial secretary and minister for education, until he retired from all three offices in 1901, but remained in the legislative council until 1910.

A self-made business man, Randell distrusted government intervention especially where it involved money. He remained popular on account of his sweet temper and reliability. A master of detail, he served on many select committees and royal commissions. In 1889 he originated the colony’s first Act to regulate life assurance, and as minister for education he initiated the Claremont Teachers’ Training College, the first in W.A.

Randell died in Perth on 2 June 1915, survived by his third wife Lucy Jane James whom he married on 26 January 1881, and by five children.

Categories: Political, Postmarks