Australian Dictionary of Biography

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John Henry Monger (1831–1892)

by R. P. Wright

This article was published:

John Henry Monger (1831-1892), merchant and agriculturist, was born on 25 January 1831, son of John Henry Monger, overseer at Lake Monger, and his wife Mary. His parents had sailed in 1829 under Colonel Lautour's emigration scheme to the Swan River, where their son was one of the first Europeans born. The family left their home near Perth and in 1836 trekked eastward toward the newly-discovered Avon Valley where his father took up land, opened a small hotel built of wattle and daub at York, and farmed in a small way until he died on 8 October 1867. Lake Monger and a street in Perth are named after him.

Young Monger spent some years of his early life in England but returned to the colony in 1853. On 21 July 1857 at St James's Church, Westminster, London, he married Henrietta Joaquina, daughter of Charles Alexander Manning, a Fremantle merchant; they had four sons and four daughters. He set up as a merchant with a head office in Perth and branches at Fremantle, York and later on the goldfields, finally sharing with John Bateman in Fremantle and George Shenton in Perth in the wholesale and retail trading business. Monger's wholesale warehouse was in William Street and the retail business opened in 1872 in Hay Street. He was fortunate in commanding a large capital and in being able to obtain almost any credit he desired in London. Despite the colony's recurring currency problem an order on Monger of York was accepted more readily than a sovereign. He had inherited his father's estate and with efficient management enlarged it, acquiring some of the colony's richest soil. He also invested in station property and held land in nearly every part of the country.

With Shenton Monger owned the barque Helena Mena, named after the owners' eldest daughters. With the sister ship Charlotte Padbury the barque regularly voyaged between Perth and London. For years Monger was the leading exporter of sandalwood which then ranked second among the colony's exports. His pastoral innovations amounted to a managerial revolution. When shepherds were scarce he turned to fencing and his example led to its widespread adoption. He imported large quantities of fencing wire which he supplied to pastoralists on long and easy terms of credit. He was one of the first to introduce ring-barking which increased the carrying capacity of the York country. A progressive farmer, he imported first-class stock for breeding purposes, exhibited extensively at the agricultural shows and carried off many prizes.

When representative government gave the franchise to property owners in 1870 Monger was elected a member for York in the Legislative Council. He held his seat until June 1875 when business prevented him from giving time and attention to politics. As one of the largest farmers in the Eastern Districts he was one of the first nominees of the Legislative Council under the new Constitution from December 1890 to February 1892. Chairman of the Town Council of York, a justice of the peace, a member of the Roads Board and active in the York Agricultural Society, he gave generous support to many public enterprises and worked unsparingly for the Methodist Church, taking particular interest in the welfare of its younger members. He died at the family home, Faversham, York, on 23 February 1892 and was buried beside his father in the Wesleyan cemetery in Perth.

Select Bibliography

  • W. B. Kimberly, History of West Australia (Melb, 1897)
  • J. T. Reilly, Reminiscences of Fifty Years' Residence in Western Australia (Perth, 1903)
  • Possum (Perth), 3 Dec 1887
  • Daily News (Perth), 23 Feb 1892, York Agricultural Society, Minute book 1858-94 (State Library of Western Australia).

Citation details

R. P. Wright, 'Monger, John Henry (1831–1892)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (Melbourne University Press), 1974

View the front pages for Volume 5

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


25 January, 1831
Western Australia, Australia


23 February, 1892 (aged 61)
York, Western Australia, Australia

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