HENTY, James (1800-1882)


HENTY, James (1800-1882)
pioneer and merchant
eldest son of Thomas Henty and brother of Edward Henty (q.v.), was born at West Tarring, Sussex, on 24 September 1800. He for a time assisted his father in farming, and then joined the family bank, Henty and Henty and Olliver; but when the family decided to try its fortunes in Australia he went out with two brothers as the advance party. They had obtained an order to select 80,000 acres at Swan River, Western Australia and, having chartered a vessel and loaded her with their stock and implements, they arrived at what is now Fremantle in November 1829. There were many early difficulties for comparatively little good land could be found, some of the sheep died from eating a poisonous plant, and others were killed by dingoes. They might possibly have had troubles with the natives but Henty succeeded in conciliating them. After two years it was decided to move to Tasmania, but it was found that the conditions governing land grants had been altered and it was practically impossible to obtain the land they wanted. James Henty then started as a merchant at Launceston and when his father arrived he was sent to England to put their case before the government. He returned in 1835 having failed in his mission. The long-drawn-out negotiations which followed caused much anxiety and probably conduced to the death of both of his parents in 1839.
In 1842 Henty was offered a seat in the Tasmanian legislative council but declined it. He visited England in 1848 and in 1851 settled at Melbourne where he established the flourishing business of James Henty and Company, merchants. In 1852 he was elected a member of the old legislative council for Portland, and afterwards was one of the members for the South-Western Province for a long period. He did not take an important part in parliamentary work, but was one of the early promoters of the first Victorian railway, the Melbourne and Hobson's Bay railway, of which he was chairman of directors. He was a commissioner of savings banks and took a leading part in the business life of Melbourne. He died in 1882. He had married in 1830 Miss Carter of Worthing. His son, Henry Henty (1833-1912), was a member of the legislative assembly for a short period, and succeeded his father as a commissioner of savings banks. He took a great interest in the Church of England, and, carrying on the family tradition, was a much respected man of business.
R. G. Henty Balfour, Victorian Historical Magazine, February 1931; Men of the Time in Australia, 1878.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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