Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Henry Osborne (1803–1859)

by P. J. B. Osborne

This article was published:

Henry Osborne (1803-1859), pastoralist, was born on 8 February 1803, the youngest of the ten children of Archie Osborne of Dirnaseer, County Tyrone, Ireland. Two of his brothers had migrated to New South Wales and on the advice of one of them he sold his farm and other property for about £3000, invested this in a consignment of Irish linen, married Sarah, daughter of Rev. Benjamin Marshall of Dromore, County Down, and sailed for Sydney where he arrived in May 1829. He sold his linen at a handsome profit and went to the property of Captain Thompson at Liverpool, where he gained some colonial experience before settling upon a grant of 2560 acres (1036 ha) in the Illawarra near the present town of Dapto. This property, Marshall Mount, entitled him to some twenty-five labourers. He went in for dairying and at the same time bred large numbers of young cattle. In December 1839 he set out with one free settler, three convicts and three Aboriginals for South Australia, where he arrived four months later.

About this time Osborne began to acquire large holdings of land in the area between the Murrumbidgee and Murray Rivers southwards from Wagga Wagga. They included Barren Garry, Arejoel, and Brooking near Lockhart, all on the route which he had taken to South Australia. By the 1850s he owned very large holdings in the Illawarra, and in the Mount Keira and other coal-mines in the Maitland district, where an Act of parliament was required to deprive him of much of the land later occupied by the town of Maitland. He conducted an immense business in cattle in the Illawarra and also had large inland runs. It was to these that his descendants gravitated.

Henry Osborne became a member of the Legislative Council in 1851 and was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1856. He died at Marshall Mount on 26 March 1859, survived by his wife, nine sons and three daughters. One son, Patrick Hill (1832-1902), was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1864 and another, James (1845-1877), in 1869.

Select Bibliography

  • G. N. Griffiths, Some Southern Homes of New South Wales (Syd, 1952)
  • P. J. B. Osborne, Some Family History, Addresses to the Society (Canberra and District Historical Society), 15 April 1958, 13 pages
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 30 Mar 1859.

Citation details

P. J. B. Osborne, 'Osborne, Henry (1803–1859)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1967, accessed online 21 June 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

Henry Osborne, n.d.

Henry Osborne, n.d.

National Library of Australia, 23149657

Life Summary [details]


8 February, 1803
Tyrone, Ireland


26 March, 1859 (aged 56)
Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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