Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Plow Kane (1825–1893)

by Bethia Foott

This article was published:

Henry Plow Kane (1825?-1893), schoolmaster, was the son of Benjamin Kane of the British Ordnance Department. In his early twenties he emigrated to Van Diemen's Land and became tutor to the son of William Barnes, a Launceston merchant. When the Launceston Church Grammar School opened in temporary premises in 1846 he was appointed headmaster. In July he was ordained deacon and licensed as a minister and chaplain at Paterson's Plains and Allenvale, where he officiated until 1850. In October 1854 his scholastic services were honoured by the archbishop of Canterbury who conferred on him a Lambeth master of arts degree. During the Crimean war Kane was active in collecting funds for the British Patriotic Fund and as secretary to the supporting committee of Launceston ladies.

Hoping for government employment Kane applied in 1856 for the position of inspector of schools under the Board of Education. He was prepared to accept a decrease in salary for the honour of the new position, in which he felt he would be of real service to the cause of colonial education by reason of his long experience with boys of all denominations. Unfortunately the post had been filled already. In March 1857 he undertook to officiate temporarily at Evandale and Lymington on the death of Rev. J. Bishton, received a testimonial of his parishioners' regard, and a request from them that he be appointed permanently. Kane was ordained priest at Holy Trinity, Launceston, on 11 May 1857; he felt that his services at the school were of greater value than pastoral work, and therefore declined the Evandale living. In 1854-56 he was assistant secretary to the Launceston branch of the Royal Society, and in 1857-59 was secretary. He resigned as headmaster in January 1860 and was succeeded by Rev. F. W. Quilter.

In 1847 he had married Caroline Jeanette, daughter of Captain William Neilley, a Waterloo veteran of the 63rd Regiment, of Rostella, East Tamar. After his father-in-law's death Kane conducted a private school at Rostella, and educated the sons of many prominent Tasmanians until the 1870s, when he accepted the invitation of the bishop of Melbourne to take charge of several small parishes at Cheltenham, Dingley East, South Brighton and Gipsy Village (Sandringham). He had previously been made a surrogate in 1867.

In 1874, on the death of his only son Henry Neilley, aged 15, Kane took his wife and daughter to England. In 1882 his wife died there, and their daughter was entrusted to the care of relatives. A lonely man, Kane retired from the church and returned to Melbourne, where on 1 May 1883 he married Alicia Bradish of Dingley, and entered on a business career for which he was unfitted. A sense of responsibility for the bankruptcy of the company of which he was director undermined his health, and he died on 11 November 1893 at his home, Rhyll, Brighton, Melbourne.

Select Bibliography

  • correspondence file under H. P. Kane (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • Diocesan Rregistry Office records (Hobart).

Citation details

Bethia Foott, 'Kane, Henry Plow (1825–1893)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 17 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 2, (Melbourne University Press), 1967

View the front pages for Volume 2

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]




11 February, 1893 (aged ~ 68)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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