Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Henry Arthur (1801–1848)

by Roger Page

This article was published:

Henry Arthur (1801-1848), public servant and pastoralist, was born at Plymouth, England, and came to Van Diemen's Land in 1824 with his uncle, Lieutenant-Governor (Sir) George Arthur. In 1830 he was appointed a justice of the peace and collector of customs with a staff of four landing officers at Launceston and George Town. He resigned in February 1836 and went next month to Port Phillip with sheep and thence to Hobart Town where in 1837 he brought an action against Thomas Gregson for assault. Gregson claimed that after being provoked by Arthur's insults in a theatre saloon, he had been denounced in a placard as 'a liar, a bully and a dastardly coward', and had horsewhipped the supposed author of this affront. The appellant denied on oath any connexion with the publication of the placard, and the judge, although calling his behaviour 'most disgraceful and disreputable', sentenced Gregson to a fine of £200 and three months imprisonment. A month later Lieutenant-Governor Sir John Franklin remitted this judgment, after a petition from several hundred colonists. In 1837 Arthur was accused of perjury, but acquitted.

Other reports that Arthur was fonder of play than work seemed to support the charges of nepotism against his high-minded uncle, but Henry Arthur had his uses. As a member of the Port Phillip Association, he kept Government House informed of John Batman's doings and plans. While at Launceston, Arthur cleared several ships for Port Phillip, although it was not then a port within the meaning of the regulations. He was also one of the first to send sheep to Port Phillip. By February 1836 he and Connolly were reported to have a flock of 1000 at Arthur's Creek, a run that he held until 1841 when he also had sheep runs at Diamond Creek and Mount Macedon. He was a founder of the Melbourne Race Club and acted as its steward in 1838. He became insolvent in 1843. In December 1844 Henry Arthur was still listed as an insolvent and in 1847 as a settler at Diamond Creek. He found his final resting place in Van Diemen's Land, where he died on 9 June 1848 at the home of his brother Charles in Longford.

Select Bibliography

  • G. F. Angas, Savage Life and Scenes in Australia and New Zealand (Lond, 1847) 167
  • True Colonist (Hobart), 24 Feb 1837
  • Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), 4 Nov 1837
  • H. C. Talbot, ‘The Early History of the South-East District of South Australia’, Proceedings of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia: South Australian Branch, vol 21, 1919-20, pp 107-35.

Citation details

Roger Page, 'Arthur, Henry (1801–1848)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


18 April, 1801
Plymouth, Devon, England


9 June, 1848 (aged 47)
Longford, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Passenger Ship
Key Organisations