“As settlers, the Henty men were notable not merely for being the first to settle in Victoria but also for their number and quality; a father and seven educated sons experienced in farming and trading, occupations of prime importance to a new colony, and importers of unusually substantial capital in money, skilled workers and thoroughbred stock”. So ends the entry for the Henty’s in the Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 2.
Thomas, the father was already known in Australia for his Spanish merino sheep bred from George 111’s flock. He sent his eldest son, James, first to Western Australia but after two years James moved to Van Diemen’s Land. Thomas followed and identified himself with Launceston life, helping to form the Cornwall Agricultural Society and to improve the town’s horse racing. Soon, most racing events were being won by the progeny of his imported stock from the Earl of Egremont’s stud.
Edward, the fourth son, and James settled at Portland in 1834 taking most of their stores from Launceston, including fruit trees grown in John Pascoe Fawkner’s nursery on Windmill Hill. They conveyed themselves and stores on their ship, “The Thistle”.
William, the third son, did not arrive in Launceston until 1837. A solicitor he entered practice in partnership with John Ward Gleadow. He was prominent in church and educational activities, a keen cricketer and represented Tamar in the House of Assembly, serving as Colonial Secretary in 1856.
In the general collapse of stock and land value in the 1840’s, James and William together with Samuel Bryan who was a wealthy farmer and husband of Jane Henty, together with another brother Charles Shane Henty, drew up reformed management plans. Charles became the managing director of the newly established branch of the Bank of Australasia and sat in the House of Assembly from 1856-62 as a Member for George Town.
James as a prosperous leader of the Launceston mercantile community, had his own shopping agency, was a founder of the Launceston Church Grammar School and of Holy Trinity Church.
The Henty farm is pictured in one of Emma Von Stieglitz’s drawings and the farm homestead can be seen somewhere about where Henty Street now runs.
We believe the street is most likely named for William, but it is hard to be sure which Henty, or whether it was the family, who the street’s name honours – with such a distinguished record only briefly outlined here, does it matter?
Henty House in Civic Square is named in honour of the Henty family and their contribution to Tasmanian public life.