History of West Australia/Harold George Parsons


THE wealth of a place is proved by the class of its people. The statement is almost too ordinary and self evident to make. Given men with energy and peaceful natures, who know how to apply the precious laws of husbandry or win metallic prizes, and there are few parts of the earth so blasted and barren as not to welcome them. Kalgoorlie is fortunate in having men of skill and stamina among her captains.

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Mr. Parsons has been associated with many important developments in Kalgoorlie almost from the moment of its birth, and has performed an excellent share of work in increasing her prestige and reputation. Such praiseworthy achievements as his deserve that esteem and popularity which confrères, and an intelligent public exhibit towards him.

Mr. Parsons was born in Kent in 1867. His father, Mr. George Parsons, left for Victoria when young Harold was a mere child, and subsequently became one of the leading merchants in Melbourne. His decease in 1874 was sincerely mourned. Mr. Parsons sent his son to the Grammar School in Melbourne, where he took an exorbitant interest in classics, a fascinating and instructive department which made him thirst for a wider knowledge of its limitless contents. He went to the University arenas of England, and entered Wadham College, Oxford, as an undergraduate. A fair number of scholarships and exhibitions are there open for competition, but he must be a man of high mental talents who can aspire to obtaining one of the "plums." Mr. Parsons, fresh from a Melbourne institution, had to compete with "dons" from world-renowned schools like Rugby and Eton. He more than held his own in the mental wrestle, and was successful in obtaining an Oxford scholarship in classics. All through his Oxford course Mr. Parsons maintained a scholarly reputation and position. When the results off the final examination for the degree of B.A. were declared, his name appeared among the happy winners of honours in Literae Humaniores. After graduating, he attached himself to the study of law, and entered the Inner Temple. Possibly, no other profession could have suited him better. He was excellently adapted for it by his peculiar cast of mind. Yet law did not absorb his whole attention. He had always exhibited a leaning towards literary and journalistic work, like many notable legal luminaries, and accepted an appointment on the Scots' Observer as leader writer. This paper had a wide circulation and great prominence in those days, and even now, under the rechristened name of National Observer, has a fair standing in England.

After following this vocation for some time, his health broke down from pressure of work, and he left for Melbourne to recruit. On his arrival he stayed for a considerable time with his relatives; then longed once more for distant shores. When he was on the point of starting for Zanzibar, auspicious news from Western Australia made him change his plans, and he directed his course hither. He arrived in Perth early in 1895, and set out at once for the gold fields. But the task proved greater than he anticipated, and he was compelled through want of conveyances or other means of travelling to walk on foot from Burracoppin to Coolgardie. He reached Kalgoorlie in October, 1893, just a few months after its discovery, and upon fulfilling the necessary residential qualifications, opened as a legal practitioner.

At the time that the Great Boulder began to astonish the world by its rich yields, Mr. Parsons was solicitor to the Brookman Brothers, Mr. Zebina Lane, and other well-known men. This was a felicitous circumstance for him, for it admitted him within the inner influential circle of great powers on the fields. In his professional capacity he had transacted most of their legal business, and when the world came to recognise the greatness of the Brookman Mines the name and influence of Mr. Parsons got a sudden rise in the general boom which followed. He fully deserved his leap into fame, for when Kalgoorlie was well-nigh prostrated in consequence of a temporary depression, Mr. Parsons stuck to his post and infused confidence and spirit into a dejected populace. His pluck and courage were at last imitated by others, and when the wave had passed all felt that Mr. Parsons' conduct was exemplary and admirable.

Mr. Parsons now also became a devotee of mining. He soon pegged out the Great Boulder Main Reefs, a lease in closest proximity to the Great Boulder. He became associated in mining ventures with Mr. George MacLeod Matheson, and the Hannan's Central, Boulder North Extended, Boulder North Extended Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 fell to their lot. Mr. Parsons also acquired important and extensive properties in the Scotsman line. Three of his leases were floated in Adelaide by Mr. V. L. Solomon, M.L.A.; six blocks were sold to an English development syndicate, in which directors of the London and Westminster Bank are interested; and the Scotsman leases, which are extremely valuable, were disposed of at a high figure to the North Extended Gold Mines Company. In all Mr. Parsons pegged out 450 acres.

In connection with several leases he entered into an agreement with Kalgoorlie people, previous to departing for England, by which they provided working capital for the mines to keep them in a process of development till he should get them successfully floated. By this contract he obtained a half share while the subscribers got the other half. He went to London in April, 1896, and before the lapse of many months he had accomplished the objects of his mission. He floated these numerous properties into two companies. One of the two is the North East Coolgardie Syndicate, Limited, which has a capital of £250,000; the other is the English Exploration Company; of both he is managing director. Numerous companies and syndicates claim him as a director, and among them the Boulder Perseverance and the North Boulder, two rising properties in proximity to the Great Boulder. He holds (1896) the honourable position of chairman in the Great Boulder Main Reefs. Mr. Parsons takes an active interest in all local institutions. He is vice-president of the Chamber of Mines, and is an honorary member of several town clubs. He is skilful, methodical, and quick in the despatch of business. His affability, magnanimous disposition, and his charity render him a favourite in Kalgoorlie. In the legal profession he possesses an exhaustive knowledge of his subject, and displays a shrewdness of judgment that must arise from a highly logical mind.