Frederick Weld had a distinguished career in politics in New Zealand before becoming WA's Governor. After completing his studies, he decided to embark on a colonial career and emigrated from England to New Zealand where he became a pastoralist and explorer.
Weld took an active part in the development of representative government in his adoptive country. In the first elected Parliament, he won a seat in the House of Representatives and finally became Premier in 1864. Weld took over during a difficult time as war had broken out between the settlers and the local indigenous people and the colony was severely economically depressed.
Weld decided the best attack was to use small groups of colonial militia to push the Maoris into interior lands. It is reported that on the defeat of the Waikato people, he confiscated their lands to indicate his displeasure with them.
He brought the war to an end - at the expense of the Maoris' land rights - and earned himself much praise from the colonists for restoring the country's credit. However, his government was defeated one year after he became Premier, and so he decided to return to England.
On his return, "his fame had preceded him" and he was offered the WA Governor's position, which he accepted in 1869. Weld arrived in WA and immediately set about trying to reform the system of government to reflect a system with ministerial responsibility.
However, his first attempts were thwarted as Britain did not want the colony to have full democratic rule at the time.
Weld also introduced electric telegraph to the colony to improve communications and also passed the Education Act, which reputedly was met with wide support. He also put in place a system whereby all religious denominations (but this did not include Aboriginal people) had equality in land grants, which he made on a proportionate basis to their numbers.
He was concerned that there was little information on WA's interior and to rectify the situation he appointed John Forrest (later Sir John) as exploration leader.
In 1874, he resigned his post to become Tasmanian Governor where he remained until 1880. He was then knighted and appointed Governor of the Straits Settlement, a position he held until 1887.
He died in 1891, leaving six sons and seven daughters. It was said that he was a man of "ability, culture, straightforward and chivalrous both as a Minister and a Governor, but sometimes autocratic and wanting in tact". Some considered him one of the best administrators of his time.
Reviewed 2012 - 2013