History of West Australia/Andrew Harriot Henning

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"WE live in an age that moves," says the irrefutable adage; the colonies have unusual progressive motion. Complexities of law rise like shoals of dilemmas, and demand acuteness and depth of judgment. In colonial contention he must be wise who can decide.

Andrew Harriot Henning HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Greenham & Evans.

Mr. Henning's success is not confined to the halls and courts of law; he has transcended this opaque horizon into the realm of politics. The Western Australian Parliament will receive in its new member a man highly qualified and endorsed with the sine qua non which alone can promote the best interests of the people and prove the politician an efficient representative. Mr. Henning was born in Adelaide in 1865. He is the son of Mr. Rudolph W. Henning, who so ably and creditably represented the Albert constituency in the South Australian Legislature for the prolonged term of seventeen years. Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, had charge of Mr. A. H. Henning's early instruction, and the Alma Mater of the University trained him successfully in those subjects which qualified him for his degree, and the more uncertain highways of life. In 1887 he graduated as Bachelor of Laws in the University, and was admitted to the South Australian bar in the same year. His scholastic curriculum was the season for ploughing and harrowing the soil of knowledge, and it now remained for the firm of Messrs. Symon, Bakewell, and Symon to sow that disseminating seed which should blossom and yield its fruit in the harvest of life. He entered an excellent office, for under the keen and able supervision of Mr. J. H. Symon, Q.C., the great legal luminary of South Australia, an opportunity was afforded and utilised to the furthermost advantages. The legal scope of the office coincided with its enviable variety. Mr. Henning, with an ardour for an understanding of the technicalities of his profession, bent his energies to laden himself with invaluable legal merchandise, if the metaphor be permissible.

After six years' continued devotion to this firm he started in the practice of his profession at Broken Hill. Now his sole responsible master and pilot, with his fame to make in the legal world, he strove to win for himself a reputation that could only at this juncture be obtained by incessant toil and unwearying energy. His success was proportionate to the term and conditions of his venture. He retired from active work for a time, but again returned to Broken Hill. Clients had every reason to remember and respect the professional attention and the indisputable talents of their solicitor. His practice was speedily assured. The heralding abroad of one successful advocacy often gains for the fortunate barrister a strong contingent of followers, that gather round as if to the marshalling clang of trumpets. Often, too, is this the stroke of fortune rather than the reward of merit, but Mr. Henning's rise was gradual and stable.

About the end of 1893 the greatness of the Broken Hill mines seemed to dwindle in contrast with the electric power of the gold realm of Coolgardie. Many people forsook the silver-streaked rocks to seek the dazzling auriferous plains of the West. In that stream of enterprising travellers which landed in Western Australia in 1884 from Adelaide was Mr. Henning. His experience of mining fields and laws was bound to prove of value. Reaching Coolgardie early in 1894 he, after fulfilling the usual residential qualification, started practice in that town, which was as yet an inharmonious collection of tents and camps. Its potentialities were, however, great, and Mr. Henning, taking occasion by the hand, drew forth from its bounties every advantage. Success was never doubted, but it exceeded even sanguine and optimistic expectations. He was the founder of a firm which was soon to become widely known in the "Golden West." After building up a practice as wide as it was influential, Mr. Henning was joined in partnership by Mr. Rounsevell, who shared the increasing responsibilities and extensive arduousness of the connection. It was some time afterwards that Mr. Isbister joined the two successful lawyers. With mining and other legal matters these three gentlemen are extensively engaged on the fields and in the capital, and the founder can look back with keen pleasure on the results of his energy and legal ability.

Mr. Henning was one of the originators of the Coolgardie Chamber of Mines, and acted on the first-elected committee. His interest grew with the importance of this institution, and ever since its inception he has acted faithfully in its welfare and striven to promote the felicity of that industry for whose prosperity it was inaugurated. On mining legislation the Chamber has kept a vigilant and jealous eye, and it strove vigorously to obtain reform. When a delegation was appointed by the goldfields' people of the colony to wait on the Premier to discuss with him the amendment of the "obnoxious clause eleven" of the Goldfields Act, Mr. Henning was elected a member, and took a prominent and serviceable part in the mission. In public movements he has taken a lively and enthusiastic share. Parochial services, expeditiously rendered, obtained for him the approval of the people, who testified it in requisitioning him to become a candidate for the newly created North-East Province of the Legislative Council.

For three vacancies seven candidates came forward, and a keen contest ensued. Each seemed a redoubtable champion of the people's rights, and hustings applause and prospective decisions wavered and fluctuated. Speculation was rife, for there was some similarity of policy. In their choice of Mr. Henning popular judgment was good, and showed discretion and prudence. Mr. Henning's sympathies are broad and generous, his friendship genuine, his sincerity ineffaceable. In the exercise of his profession he is respected, and in private life he has the warm wishes of all within the wide circumference of his acquaintanceship.