Notable South Australians/Captain Henry Simpson
Captain Henry Simpson,
WHO may be regarded as one of our earliest South Australian colonists, arrived here in August 1836, as second officer of the "John Pirie," of which vessel he subsequently became master. He was a native of Hull, England, and was born in 1815. From the time of his first connection with the colony, up to the day of his death, he was well known as one of our most enterprising shipowners, and his name is still a "household word" at Port Adelaide, which was for so many years the scene of his labours and his successes. To enumerate all the vessels with which he was connected would occupy more space than we can here afford, but it may be stated that on leaving the "John Pirie" he took charge of the barque "Lord Hobart" He next purchased a cutter, and established a trade between Port Adelaide, King George's Sound, and Fremantle, W. A. He was subsequently appointed wharfinger at the old port under the South Australian Company. From this position Captain Simpson was at a later date transferred to the new port, when the road from Alberton to the Flagstaff was constructed by the S.A. Company. He was associated with Messrs. Phillips and De Horne in the formation of a shipping and agency company, which, however, collapsed at the time of the gold fever in Victoria, and Captain Simpson, affected by the prevailing disorder which led so many South Australians to leave for Victoria, went thither, and worked as a digger for six months. On his return to Port Adelaide he engaged in the coaling trade. For a long time the traffic between this colony and Newcastle was carried on by means of sailing vessels, and Captain Simpson decided to introduce steamers for the coal trade, and imported the "Birksgate," "Tenterden," and other vessels for the Port Adelaide trade. From the commencement of the Wallaroo Smelting Works he was the contractor for the coal supply, in which employment he had many ships engaged. During recent years he was greatly assisted by his son in the work of the firm with which he was connected, and was thereby to an extent relieved of business cares. He always manifested deep interest in local matters at Port Adelaide, where the news of his death, on April 26, 1884, from a paralytic fit, caused the most profound regret Kind and benevolent in disposition, a gentleman in every sense of the word, the decease of Captain Simpson may be regarded as somewhat of a national calamity. He had nearly reached his seventieth year, and the greater part of his life was spent in South Australia, but he paid a visit to England with his family in 1875, and remained there two years. Few men have done more to advance the interests of this colony than he; few of his contemporary pioneers have accomplished so much good in a long and useful lifetime. The firm of Messrs. H. Simpson & Sons is still extant; the sons of Captain Simpson being now the managing partners and representative heads.