John Henty 1813-1869 & Eliza WHITFIELD 1808-1893
Sussex, England; Swan River Colony; Van Diemen's Land; Portland Bay; "Merino Downs" & "Sandford,"
Glenelg & Wannon Region, S-W Victoria, Australia

Explorer & Settler

The last of the four Henty brothers to settle at Portland Bay was John, who had arrived in Western Australia in 1829. Many of John's movements are hard to trace, but accompanying his signature to the address of welcome to the Duke of Edinburgh he gives his date of arrival in Portland as September 1, 1836. Add to this the fact that he is not mentioned in Edward's diary until after that date (though the other brothers are), it then seems conclusive that reported earlier arrivals are incorrect. While in Van Diemen's land John married Eliza Whitfield and had issue two sons and three daughters. He resided in Portland for a short time before going to Merino Downs and then to Sandford. In 1847 he sold out and bought a farm near Warrnambool. This was not a success. His next move was to Bolwarra, near Portland, in 1853, where he lived quietly for many years. He died in 1868 in Perth, Western Australia.

Miss Susan Henty, a daughter of John Henty, and who was born at Sandford in May 1843, has left a few notes that help us to understand John's movements in opening up the Wannon. Miss Henty says: - "When Major Mitchell reported the discovery of this country Edward was on the eve of departure to Launceston. So Stephen and John struck off inland to see the wonderful country described by the Major. They took with them a dray and provisions and a man named Smead. They found the land just as described, and on their return to Portland John and Francis went back with a flock of sheep to take possession. They arrived at their selected spot, Merino Downs, on 3rd August, 1837. This station became the headquarters of the brothers until more stock was introduced. Edward then took up Muntham, John and Frank remaining at Merino Downs. In 1842 a new division was made. Stephen remained at Portland, Edward at Muntham, and Frank at Merino Downs. John moved to Sandford and built a home there."

From these details and Edward's invaluable diary we can approximately fix the date of the first Wannon trip. Edward's diary stops August 31, 1836. John arrives September 1, 1836. Edward leaves for Launceston by the same boat that brought John. Stephen and John then set out for the Wannon. Hence the break in the diary at Portland Bay. It all fits in wonderfully.

Source : "The Portland Bay Settlement",
By Noel Learmonth, 1834


Born West Tarring, England, 1812. Arrived Swan River, 1829. Did very little exploring and led rather a quiet life. Married Elizabeth WHITFIELD. Arrived Victoria September 1st, 1836. John HENTY had what is called "Sandford House," property under Government lease from 1840-44, when he sold his rights to JACKSON Bros., whose nephew until recently had interest in property. Later sold to J. SOMERVILLE and now in possession of A. MATHESON. Portion of present "Sandford House" built by John HENTY. One daughter married Dr. WHITE, of Portland. In 1841 he resided in a hut on present site of Merino Downs.

"Sandford House" is famous locally owing to Major Mitchell passing through at a spot 200 yards from the present house. The ford over which he crossed the Wannon is on this property. Died 1868.

Source : "Historic Souvenir of the Back to Merino and Henty Centenary Celebrations",
November, 11th to 15th, 1937

1843, March: Death of James AMOS, a Bullock Driver for John HENTY.

FATAL ACCIDENT.--On Saturday last a poor fellow, named James Amos, formerly a whaler in this Bay ; but latterly in the employment, of John Henty, Esq., as a bullock-driver, came to a sudden end in the following manner :--He had remained at the Second River all Friday night, and on Saturday morning he had drank so freely that he was unable to drive his team ; his, companion, therefore drove the bullocks, while he clambered to the top of the wool, with which the dray was loaded, and there remained for about two hours. On reaching the heath, which is about four miles at this side of the Second River, Amos made an attempt to come down, and slid from the wool bales to the dray pole ; in striving to get down from the pole he placed his hand on the off-side bullock, when the beast made rush, and Amos fell beside the pole, where he received a kick on the thigh, and, being thereby placed immediately in front of the wheel, two ton weight was passed over the body of the unfortunate man. The individual who was driving, stopped the bullocks, and despatched a messenger to the Second Rivet for Messrs. Edgar and Clarke, but long before their arrival poor Amos had ceased to exist. The last words he uttered were, "I am dying--and I'm drunk !" an awful warning to those who indulge in intemperate habits, but especially those following the occupation of the deceased. An enquiry was held next day, at the Golden Fleece Inn, before James Blair, Esq., P. M. when it appeared from the able explanation given by Dr. James Martin, District Colonial Surgeon that some heavy body had passed over the dorsal and cervical region, fracturing a rib on the right side ; the spinal cord appeared to be injured, and there was also a fraqture in the occipital bone, with depression. The body was interred in the evening, when thle Rev. A Lauri delivered a very impressive discourse to a large assemblage of bushmen and others, who had followed the deceased to his last-home.

Source : "Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser" (Vic.) Saturday, 18th March 1843.

John Henty 1813-1869 & Eliza WHITFIELD 1808-1893
  • 1808 - Eliza WHITFIELD born to Francis WHITFIELD & Charlotte MEARES.
  • 1813 - John HENTY born West Tarring, Sussex, England
  • 1829 - John HENTY & brothers James & Stephen arrived at the Swan River Settlement per "Caroline"
  • 1830 - Capt. Francis WHITFIELD & family arrived at Swan River Settlelment.
  • 1836 - John HENTY arrived Portland Bay just after the departure of Major Mitchell's expedition from the Bay.
  • 1837 - John HENTY married Eliza WHITFIELD at Launceston, Van Diemen's Land.
  • 1837 - Frank & his brother John HENTY brought the first flock of sheep from Portland Bay to the Merino Plains area.
  • 1838 - On New Year's Day, John HENTY, James Smead and three other men began the construction of "Merino Downs" homestead
  • 1839 - John & Eliza HENTY living at "Merino Downs," a child (stillborn)
  • 1840 - daughter Eliza born to John & Eliza HENTY.
  • 1842 - John HENTY starts with his own land (12,000 acres) which he named "Sandford" near the junction of the Wannon and Glenelg rivers.
  • 1844 - daughter Susan born to John & Eliza HENTY.
  • 1845 - daughter Margaret born to John & Eliza HENTY.
  • 1850 - son John born to John & Eliza HENTY.
  • 1850 - son Edward born to John & Eliza HENTY.
  • 1862 - John HENTY living at Bolwarra, Portland when his eldest daughter Eliza Whitfield HENTY (1840-1926) married Dr. Thomas Edward WHITE (1839-1868).
  • 1869 - John HENTY & his son sailed to Perth by schooner. John HENTY died a few days after their arrival at Perth.
  • 1875 - Edward, son of John & Eliza HENTY married 1875, Sydney, NSW to Frances Emma "Fanny" JEBB.
  • 1875 - John, son of John & Eliza HENTY, Bank Manager, "Bank of Australasia" Muswellbrook, NSW.
  • 1876 - John, son of John & Eliza HENTY married 1876, Sydney, NSW to Annie Jane SMITH.
  • 1880 - Edward, son of John & Eliza HENTY of Sydney, NSW died at "Merino Downs" Station, S-W Victoria.
  • 1880 - Frances Emma (nee JEBB), widow of Edward HENTY died at Sydney, NSW.
  • 1884 - John, son of John & Eliza HENTY, Bank Manager "Bank of New Zealand" Sydney, NSW, sailed from Sydney on the steamer "Ringarooma" and died prior to arrival at Auckland, NZ.
  • 1893 - Eliza HENTY (nee WHITFIELD), widow of John HENTY, died at Melbourne.
  • External link to - Sandford Homestead on the Wannon River, Port Phillip, ca 1845 (painting)

  • "The Hentys An Australian Colonial Tapestry" - Marnie Bassett, 1954
  • "The Portland Bay Settlement" - Noel Learmonth, 1934
  • "The Portland Guardian" Portland, S-W Victoria, Australia

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