The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/Howitt, Alfred William
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Howitt, Alfred William
Howitt, Alfred William, the well-known explorer, who is Secretary for Mines in Victoria, is a son of the late William and Mary Howitt, the distinguished authors, and went to Victoria while still a youth. Whilst engaged in squatting pursuits, he gained a reputation as a fearless and energetic bushman; and when the relief party which was sent in quest of the Burke and Wills expedition was projected in 1861, Mr. Howitt was chosen leader. Near Swan Hill he met Brahe returning with the intelligence that Burke had not returned to the depôt. Mr. Howitt was reinforced and sent forward. He crossed the Darling near Wilcannia, and directing his course towards the Stokes ranges (reached and named by Sturt in 1845), passed McAdam Range, Wilkie's Creek, Mount Shillinglaw, McLeays Plains, and finally the depôt at Fort Wills, on Cooper's Creek, on September 8th. On the 16th the party found King, the survivor; two days after they buried the remains of Wills, and on the 21st those of Burke. The relief party, with King, returned to Melbourne on Nov. 28th, 1861. It having been determined that the remains of Burke and Wills should be brought to Melbourne, Mr. Howitt was again sent to Cooper's Creek with a stronger party. They left Melbourne on Dec. 1st, 1861; reached Fort Wills on Feb. 18th, 1862, after making several excursions in various directions and discovering Baleman's, Burrell's, Phillip's, O'Donneld's, and Williams' creeks, and Lake Short. Mr, Howitt finally left Cooper's Creek in Oct. 1862, arriving, with the remains of Burke and Wills, in Adelaide on Dec. 11th, and in Melbourne on Dec 28th, 1862. Mr. Howitt, for these and other services, was appointed police magistrate of Victoria and stationed in Gippsland, where he resided first at Bairnsdale and latterly at Sale. He has made a profound study of the ethnology and characteristics of the natives of Australia; and in 1880 published a work, in conjunction with the Rev. L. Fison, on the marriage customs of two noted tribes. Mr. Howitt has also made a scientific and practical study of gold mining, and was the leader of more than one Government prospecting party. His exceptional capabilities in this direction were recognised by his appointment in 18— as Secretary for Mines in Victoria, a position he still holds. Mr. Howitt married a daughter of the late Judge Boothby, of Adelaide.