The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Henty, Francis

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Henty, Francis, brother of the above, was the youngest son of Thomas Henty, was born at Field Place, Worthing, Sussex, on Nov. 30th, 1815, and emigrated to Tasmania with his father. He subsequently followed his brother Edward to Portland, Vict., landing a month later than that gentleman, on Dec. 14th, 1834. Having returned to Tasmania on a visit in the following year, he called in at Port Phillip (now Melbourne) in September, and assisted Mr. Batman, the founder of the city, to pitch a tent on what was afterwards known as Batman's Hill. In the last week of August 1836 Sir Thomas Mitchell, the explorer, visited Portland on his way overland from Sydney to the southern shore of the continent. At this time there was no one settled nearer Portland than where Melbourne now stands, and the appearance of a stranger was somewhat startling in those days of escaped convicts. However, the Major was recognised by one of the establishment. He was furnished with supplies, had the pleasure of witnessing the excitement of a whale chase, and in return informed the Messrs. Henty of the existence of the fine country at the back of Portland, on the Wannon River, which he had named Australia Felix. Hitherto the latter had not gone more than twenty miles inland with their flocks. On August 3rd, 1837, a settlement was commenced in this country at the spot since known as Merino Downs, of which Mr. Francis Henty became the owner. Conflicts between the blacks and some of the whites could scarcely be avoided, but Mr. Henty had not much trouble, the aborigines soon becoming friendly; but they were never allowed to bring their spears and other weapons within a certain distance of the hut. To show how quickly the country was taken up after the first essay had been made, it may be mentioned that in 1839 Messrs. James and Stephen G. Henty rode overland from Geelong to Portland, and were able to obtain shelter each night during the whole journey. Mr. Henty, though keeping up his establishment at Merino Downs, resided for the last few years of his life in Melbourne. He married at Launceston, Tas., Miss Mary Ann Lawrence, who died in Nov. 1881. Mr. Henty died at Kew, near Melbourne, on Jan. 15th, 1889.