The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Henty, Edward
Henty, Edward, the pioneer settler of Victoria, was the third son of Thomas Henty, of West Tarring, Sussex, England, banker and farmer, and Frances Elizabeth his wife, daughter of Joseph Hopkins, and was born at West Tarring on March 10th, 1809. His father, at the commencement of the present century, was one of the half-dozen breeders of merino sheep in England, having secured his blood at the sale of the flock presented to George III. by the King of Spain. The foundation of the Swan River settlement in Western Australia in 1829 turned the attention of Mr. Thomas Henty to the subject of colonisation, and he determined to send his sons James, John, and Stephen George to explore the country, with the idea of following himself, with the rest of his family, the Government having promised him a grant of 80,000 acres. He accordingly chartered a vessel, the Caroline, and put on board labourers and their families, twelve months' supply of provisions, and valuable stock and appliances for establishing an agricultural and pastoral settlement. The party sailed in May 1829, and duly arrived at Perth, where Mr. James Henty purchased land for the purpose of locating the families, stock, etc., in his charge, until he could obtain suitable grants from the Government. Mr. Henty, sen., was about to follow, with the rest of his family, when, in 1830, he received advices from James that he and his brothers saw no prospect of doing good in West Australia, and had determined to proceed to Launceston, in Tasmania. This information entirely altered the plans of the father, who accordingly, with his wife and sons, Edward and Francis, followed them to Van Diemen's Land in the Forth of Alloway, a vessel carrying emigrants, valuable stock, etc. They arrived in April 1831, and settled down. A twelvemonth, however, sufficed to disillusionise Mr. Edward Henty with his prospects in the island, and he determined to cross Bass' Straits, and seek suitable land on the southern shores of the continent of Australia. He left Launceston in the barque Carnarron in 1832, and landed at Memory Cove, in Spencer's Gulf, and afterwards at Port Lincoln, in South Australia, places discovered by Flinders. He remained there looking for a location, until he was called for, as arranged, by the brigantine Thistle, on her way from Swan River to Tasmania. On the passage back he anchored in Portland Bay, in what is now Victoria, which place so took his fancy that he returned in the Elizabeth from Launceston, and a more extended examination of the country determined him to form a settlement there. Before doing so he and his father again visited Portland in the Thistle, on their way to Swan River, to settle about the land Mr. Thomas Henty held there, and which he agreed with James Henty in condemning. In Oct. 1834, having completed his arrangements, Mr. Edward Henty sailed in the Thistle, Captain Liddle, and conveyed to Portland labourers, cattle, farming implements, fruit-trees, vines, seeds, etc., landing at 8 a.m. on Nov. 19th, 1834, after a tempestuous passage of thirty-four days. In the first two years of the settlement the Thistle was regularly employed bringing over sheep, cattle, horses, and provisions, which clearly proves that all residents in and about Launceston, including Batman and Fawkner, who were afterwards asserted to be the first settlers, were perfectly aware of the settlement being formed by the Hentys in what is now known as Victoria. The very fruit-trees planted by Mr. Edward Henty at Portland were purchased from Fawkner, who at that time kept a nursery garden on Windmill Hill, Launceston. A month after the first arrival Mr. Edward Henty landed the first pure merino sheep, and at the same time (Dec. 14th) his brother Francis paid him a visit and remained a month. Shortly afterwards the brothers joined their fortunes, and achieved much success in the gradual settlement of the beautiful Wannon country, where they grazed sheep and cattle, and in the meantime traded with the whalers through the business house they founded in Portland. Mr. Edward Henty was not twenty-five years of age when he put together the first plough that ever broke Victorian soil, and welded with his own hands the chains by which it was drawn. His rooftree was more than five hundred miles from the nearest house, and he was often put to straits in dealing with the wild cannibal blacks surrounding him; but on no occasion did he ever have need to fire upon them. Two years afterwards Stephen Henty finally gave up Swan River and joined his brothers at Portland Bay. On the concession of representative institutions to Victoria, Mr. Edward Henty became the representative of the county of Normanby in the Legislative Assembly, and was re-elected in 1859, but being defeated in 1861, he did not again offer himself. Mr. Henty, who subsequently unsuccessfully contested the Western province for the Legislative Council, gave a monster picnic to all the school children in Portland in 1872, to celebrate the completion of his thirty-eight years' residence there. In addressing the assemblage he said: "I have invited you here to-day, as I wish to impress upon your minds the fact that I was the pioneer of the colony. When you are grown up and hear people talking about these matters you can say you knew Mr. Henty the pioneer, and that you were brought up in the town with him. That I am the oldest Victorian is proved by this book, the 'Old Colonists' Address to Prince Alfred,' signed by seven hundred old colonists, in which my name heads the list, the date of Mr. Fawkner's landing in Victoria being given by himself as Oct. 9th, 1835. You can tell them, 'It is true Mr. Henty made a home for himself, and it is equally true that he was instrumental in making homes for us.'" Mr. Henty died at his residence, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne, on August 14th, 1878. When Mr. Edward Henty landed in Portland there were no white settlers on the coast between King George's Sound, in West Australia, and Twofold Bay, in New South Wales.