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ACT 1. Three Henty Brothers Arrive at Freemantle


After Naval Captain, James Stirling, had examined the area above and below Perth W.A. he promoted it as the ideal place to make a British Settlement. At that time the British Government wanted colonies all around Australia to protect it from a French invasion.

Swan River “mania” had hit Britain. The Government sponsored FREE LAND for settlers. It attracted many people.

The Henty brothers, James-Stephen and John, and appropriate Indentured Servants, live stock and plants arrived at Fremantle 4 months after Stirling arrived in Fremantle as Lieutenant Governor. The easy rich land was given to Officers and Public Servants as a way of “keeping” them at the site.

Everyone expected the Land to be like the rich Bathurst Plains in N.S.W. In fact Thomas Peel, a nephew off Sir Thomas Peel,( later English Prime Minister, was allowed to sail to Fremantle on the undertaking that if he arrived before November the 1st, he would be given 240,000 acres of land! The Fremantle Perth area was not good land. Simply sandy and only grew grass and other items around river flats. After months of expeditions, walking, riding and boating on home made boats, and experiencing belligerent (understandably) Aborigines, by many people including the Governor, the area did not look prosperous. Many people had to live in tents or home made humpies, experiencing mosquito’s, sand flies and flies.

The Henty brothers of whom the leader was James, decided that the land was not for the Henty Family, and the money outlaid by the Henty family should be reimbursed by the British Government. As such he wrote a letter to his Father advising him NOT to sail to Fremantle but to go to Launceston where free land was still to be given by the British Government. He in the meantime would sail on a ship and bring the Henty family plight to the attention of the British Government. His letter finally arrived 2 weeks before his Father was to sail from England, with other indentured people, stock and crops.

Three Henty Brothers Arrive at Freemantle

Commence the Slide or Picture show for ACT 1

Mrs. Mary Bushby. Well Sir, you look very resplendent.

James Henty. Thank you Mrs. Bushby, for cleaning my linen so well. I feel like a gentleman now.

Mrs. Mary Bushby. Well Sir, since you built the shed for yourself and my Husband and 2 children, instead of living in our tents, it is a lot easier to look after your washing and meals.

James Henty. It was truly very hot and cold in those tents.

Mrs. Mary Bushby. Anyway Sir you will not be disgraced in the company of the Lieutenant Governor and Mrs. Stirling, or any other gentlemen and their wives. You truly look like the Magistrate that you are.

……………………..later…..at the Governor’s Rudimentary Home…….

Stephen Henty. Well Mrs. Stirling, you and Mrs. Bussell look absolutely delightful. I must write to my Mother and sister Jane all about this evening. It is really a great feeling to be in a British Colony without convicts.

Mrs. Stirling. Well Master Stephen, even in this hot weather we have to dress to the standards of Home and the Officers Mess.

Stephen Henty. My Mother will be very pleased with that. She is getting rather worried about the long sea voyage and what to expect here at Perth

Mrs. Stirling. I too have taken long sea voyages. With proper precautions your Mother and Sister will survive.

Mrs. Bussell. A 70 year old woman arrived the other day from England. She has suffered no ill effects.

Henry Camfield. Hello Mrs. Stirling and Mrs. Bussell, I have just arrived. I was writing to my three sisters in England, with the intention of sending the letter on that ship that is leaving for England tomorrow. What’s James talking to the Governor about Mrs. Stirling ?

Mrs. Stirling. I suspect it is about all things to do with James acquiring good farming land. Your party arrived here only 4 months after my husband and I did.

Henry Camfield. For good friends they look angry with each other. Maybe I had better not go over and see if I am needed. John why don’t you tell the ladies about the party your Father gave on our last night in England.

John Henty. Ladies it seems so long ago! At Worthing, we had loaded all our horses, 150 sheep, cattle, chickens, rabbits and casks of seeds, boxes of vines. Farm equipment, ladders, harness, and dairy utensils. Pistols, shotgun, shaving soap, silver spoons, pens and ink, and lots of books. On and below decks bails of hay were stored. All of our indentured people from West Tarring, were on board. All 33 of them. Probably leaving only two hundred people left in the parish.

Stephen Henty. Don’t forget the 3 chests of clothes. One each for my brothers and myself, and a Large chest of household linen for the servants and laborers. The hay was stored anywhere and everywhere. Must have made the ship look like a floating barnyard.

Mrs. Bussell. Goodness me Master John, it sounds like you brought a whole Village with you. You appeared not to have lost too much stock on the voyage. But what about the party?

John Henty. Indeed we did Ma’am. You must remember that our Father, Mother, Sister and other brothers are expected here soon. Anyway the party started because Father had a dispute with the Lighterman about the cost of a return trip from the Caroline to the nearby shore. So Father simply paid the Captain extra to sail about 6 miles down the coast to Littlehampton. That took us about 6 hours, because of the tide and wind. Anyway of us Henty’s arrived at the New Inn and we all had a gay time.

Henry Camfield. You neglected to recount that you and you brothers James and Stephen slept on board the ship that night, with all us Fare paying passengers and our servants. A total of 65 people other than the crew.

…………the conversation between Lt. Governor Stirling and James Henty……

Lt. Governor, Captain James Stirling. James, you know that I had to give all the surveyed land around Fremantle and Perth to the Officers and Officials of the Colony to encourage them to stay, this was on Colonial Office Instructions. This has the effect of denying the French a Settlement on this Western side of this large Land.

James Henty. Governor, this Colony was promoted in England as the place to migrate. It would not be full of convicts. Free Land and support from the Government. My Father sold farms and property in England, to support this venture. He gave me a lot of money and 33 villagers, live stock and seeds so that the whole Family could migrate here.

Lt. Governor Stirling. I know that James. I have offered you 20,000 acres of land. And after our convivial explorations together, I have offered you land in other areas. And as a Magistrate you dealt very fairly with Mr. Peel’s request for 240,000 acres of prime land so that he could set up migration from England and make lots of money, but dividing up the land. Just because he is the nephew of probably the next British Prime Minister, and that other fellow, Colonel Lautore, did not mean that they could just arrive here and claim the best land.

James Henty. Well Governor, as you know Mr. Peel, is not a very nice man, and
he did arrive here AFTER the November 1st. deadline
. As magistrate, I ordered his claim null and void, and I also ordered that his farming people should be freed of their obligation to him. But Governor, that does not affect MY claim. The land that I can take up is useless for our farming. Particularly for our Merino Sheep, Also for growing crops for the animals and our Farm Hands.

Lt. Governor Stirling. Well James I cannot offer more. More land or help! As you know, it was at my urging that the British Colonial Office promoted this area as a Settlement Place. Particularly as the Government decided to close down the Settlement on Westernport Bay known as Corinella, and have now decided to close down Port Dundas on Melville Island in the North of this vast country.

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