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Henry Luke White (1860–1927)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Henry White, n.d.

Henry White, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1927

With the death of Mr. Henry Luke White, which occurred at Belltrees, Scone, early yesterday morning, after a long illness, New South Wales lost a notable figure in the pastoral life of the community, and a great public benefactor, a distinguished philatelist and ornithologist.

Mr. While, who was born at Anambah (West Maitland) on May 9, 1860, was a son of the late Mr. Francis White, of Edinglassie Estate, Muswellbrook, and a grandson of James White, who came to Australia in 1823 as sheep manager of the Australian Agricultural Company at Port Stephens. He was educated at Calder House, Redfern, and Belcher's school, Goulburn. He studied surveying, and passed his final examination in 1884. In 1887 he married a daughter of the late Mr. E. S. Ebsworth, of Bronte House, Waverley.

Belltrees, the property of which Mr. White, in partnership with his brothers as the firm of H. E. A. and V. White, was part owner, in the early 'Forties of the last century was held by William Charles Wentworth. As many as 180,000 sheep were shorn there in later years. In 1848 Wentworth rented the property to Messrs. J. F. and F. White, who in 1853 purchased it. The new owners subsequently added the adjoining stations, Ellerston and Waverley. Mr. H. L. White took over the management of the estate in 1885 and, in 1889, with his three brothers, acquired it. It has since been known as one of the largest and most successful pastoral properties in Australia. Belltrees and the adjoining property contained 200,000 acres, and the number of sheep and cattle raised due to improved methods was considerably increased under the management of the White brothers. It was one of the first estates to introduce machine shearing. As well as for its production of sheep, it is famous for its breeding of Durham and Polled Angus cattle and thoroughbred horses.

The late Mr. White was a most public spirited man. He had been president of Upper Hunter Shire Council since its inception, missing only two meetings in 20 years. For upwards of 35 years he was a member the pastures protection hoard, and for 40 years he was a member of the Upper Hunt Stock Board. He was a generous patron of local, public, and charitable and religious institutions and movements.

As a philatelist Mr. White won world-wide distinction. He was a fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society of London. In 1897 he purchased the Queensland collection from Mr E. D. E. van Weenen. He then became interested in specialising in the States of Australia. Mr. White gave magnificent collections to the trustees of the Public Library of New South Wales for incorporation in the Mitchell Library. In 1917 he presented his collection of New South Wales fiscal and postal stamps, considered by philatelists to be the most complete in the world, and at the time estimated to be worth £11,500. Its value has probably appreciated considerably since. In 1921 he made another gift to the library of his Queensland and Western Australian collections, and the three collections are now estimated to be worth £50,000.

As an ornithologist Mr. White also won world-wide renown. He was a member of the British Ornithologists' Union, and a corresponding fellow of the American Ornithologists' Union, besides being a member of the Royal Australian Ornithologists' Union. His collections of Australian birds, their nests and their eggs are considered to be the finest in the Southern Hemisphere, if not in the world. In 1917 he presented to the National Museum in Melbourne his priceless collection of over 10,000 skins of Australian birds. He gave £1000 to the Royal Australian Ornothologists' Union in furtherance of its scientific work, and he also presented to it a complete set of John Gould's famous work, The Birds of Australia, valued at £500. He owned a remarkably fine collection of works on Australia, his library containing many of the rarest volumes known.

A keen sportsman. Mr. White had been patron of both the Upper Hunter Cricket and Football Associations since their inception about 30 years ago. The firm of H. E. A. and V. White had considerable success on the turf. They took over the famous stud mares belonging to their uncle, the late Hon. James White and from them bred some fine animals. In 1896 with the Carbine horse, Charge, they won the A.J.C. Derby, and in 1900 they took the Doncaster Handicap with Parapet. Their colours—yellow, white hoops, and yellow cap—were familiar to racegoers at Randwick. In later years they had a number of successes with Golden Bronze, Golden Cello, Golden Curio, and Golden Wheat, all of which they bred, and which were trained by the Randwick trainer J. Barden.

The late Mr. White was greatly interested in polo, in which his brothers took an active part.

Mr. White's death followed a serious illness some months ago, He had actually taken up public duties again, but he took a serious turn a week ago. He is survived by Mrs. White, one son—Mr. Alfred Henry White, who was a noted Cambridge Blue—and two daughters—Mrs. W. P. Minell, of Park Lane Mansions, Rushcutters Bay, and Mrs. H. V. Hordern, of Nerida, Moss Vale. His brothers are Mr Frank White of Saumerex, Armidale, Mr. Arthur G. White, of Belltrees, and Mr. Victor M. White, of Roslyn Gardens, Sydney.

Original publication

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Additional Resources

Citation details

'White, Henry Luke (1860–1927)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Henry White, n.d.

Henry White, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 June 1927

Life Summary [details]


9 May, 1860
Maitland, New South Wales, Australia


30 May, 1927 (aged 67)
Muswellbrook, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.

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