Edward Henty was born on 10 March 1810 in Sussex, England. He migrated to Australia, as did his parents and brothers, in around 1829; his father Thomas had been granted a large acreage at the new Swan River Settlement. The soil was poor, however, and the family sought a grant in the eastern colonies. However, the system of free grants had ended, and the Hentys lacked the money to compete for land.
Edward urged that they petition the British government to release land in Portland Bay, Victoria. He was trained only for farming and had visited the area already, and urged his father to 'squat' the land in anticipation of title being granted. He received his father's consent to set sail, and sailed from Launceston on 19 November 1834 in the Hentys' own schooner, the Thistle, with stock and a small party. His brother Francis following the next month with a small flock of merino sheep, the first in Victoria.
Meanwhile the British government had not granted the land - but agreed to look favourably on any land brought into cultivation. The Henty brothers meanwhile began whaling at Portland Bay and took their flocks and herds inland to the rich area on the Wannon River. In the 1840s the Hentys were eventually granted pre-emptive rights over most of their lands.
Henty was known as a capable and energetic man and regarded as the chief actor in the early history of Portland Bay.
Henty married Anne Marie Gallie and moved to Muntham, a 60,000-acre property that became widely known for its merino sheep and Durham cattle. It was also known for its extravagant hospitality, to which Henty's social ambition and vanity contributed considerably. This extravagance and Henty's obstinacy eventually led to the degradation of the flocks.
Henty lived in Portland and in his Melbourne mansion, Offington, while he served as a member of the Victoria Legislative Assembly. He died on 14 August 1878.
Bassett, Marnie (1954). The Hentys, an Australian and Colonial Tapestry, London.
Bassett, Marnie (1966). 'Henty, Edward (1810 - 1878)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Melbourne University Press, Volume 1, pp. 531-534.