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Emmett, Henry James (1809–1881)

HENRY JAMES EMMETT, ESQ., J.P.

The late Mr H. J. Emmett, whose death at Stanley on 17th inst., at the age of 72, has already been recorded in our columns, was the eldest son of the late Mr H. J. Emmett, of Hobart, and was born at Harron-on-the-Hill, Middlesex, England, in 1809, and arrived in this colony with his parents in the first passenger ship to Tasmania, the Regalia, Captain Dixon, which anchored in Sullivan's Cove, Hobart, on 10th December, 1819. The subject of our sketch obtained at an early age a Government appointment under his father in the Col. Secretary's department, but after nine years service resigned his situation on account of ill-health. During the "Black War," in 1830, he was nominated to take charge of a party against the aborigines, and on one occasion encountered a number of natives (some 12 or 16), who fled instantly, leaving behind the whole of their spoil, consisting of several spears, waddies, baskets, necklaces, and broken crockery, besides some kangaroo roasting on the fire with the fur still on. Mr Emmett received the personal thanks of the Governor (Col. Arthur) for his vigilance. In 1835 he went to the Mauritius, then known as the Isle of France, for the benefit of his health, and returned via Launceston in the bark Merope, Capt, Pollock, which was six weeks coming up the Tamar. He then started in business as a merchant in Campbell Town, at the same time taking a sheep-station from Captain Jellicoe, but about that period the rush to Port Phillip commenced, and Mr Emmett formed a party to proceed thither at once to take up land. He was accompanied by Messrs. Norman and Alex. M'Leod (sons of Major M'Leod of Perth); and Mr W. Abbott (son of Major Abbott), and the party left for Port Phillip in the schooner Maria, Capt. Briggs, and landing at Indented Head, penetrated 150 miles into the interior, accompanied by Lieut. Bunbury, a friend, on leave of absence from his ship. Mr Emmett had very frequent friendly encounters with the natives, who, however, always retreated at dusk, each carrying a firebrand. Where Geelong now stands, all that existed in the shape of civilisation was a turf hut, and a few onions growing, fenced in with sheoak boughs. Mr Emmett did not take up any land, and returned to Tasmania. In 1837 or 1838 he obtained an appointment as manager of the V.D.L. Company's stores and shipping at Circular Head, and on the breaking up of the Company's regular establishment entered upon business on his own account. Mr Emmett was appointed a coroner on 6th January, 1855, and was also placed in the Commission of the Police, but resigned the latter some time afterwards, and was not reinstated till 31st December, 1877. He was a Commissioner of the Supreme Court, Deputy Registrar of Births, Marriages, and Deaths, Master Warden of the Circular Head Marine Board, Chairman of the Road Trust and Main Road Board, member of the Local School Board, and discharged many other duties of a public nature. He was an old and valued correspondent of the Examiner, and the Circular Head shipping reports which for years past have appeared with such regularity in our columns were supplied by him. From his genial and kindly disposition Mr Emmett had endeared himself to all classes far and wide, and where aid or sympathy were required for any local inauguration, tending to the amusement or welfare of the public, his was always solicited and willingly given. Having been a resident at Circular Head for upwards of forty years, and seldom absent from his post, he was always the first to give a hearty welcome and assistance to all strangers who visited Stanley, and his loss will be long and deeply felt, and leave a gap that will not readily be replaced.

Original publication

Citation details

'Emmett, Henry James (1809–1881)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/emmett-henry-james-26687/text34344, accessed 25 September 2017.

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