Summary

Handwritten character reference for William Poland written by William Dawson Pounder, a minister in County Down, Ireland, dated 4 June 1856. William Poland went on to manage the Henty family estate 'Burrswood', built in 1856. He died in 1922, still in possession of some Henty family mementoes.

Physical Description

Handwritten on cream paper with dark border.

Significance

This material is clearly significant for its link to the first European settlement of Victoria. According to Australian Book Auctions, 'The provenance of these pieces is impeccable. They are part of the extensive collection of Henty relics retained by William Poland, manager of Edward Henty's Burswood [actual spelling Burrswood] Estate, to whom family relics were given. Shortly before his death in 1922, William Poland prepared a manuscript inventory of the relics in his hands and, in many cases, wrote separate notes certifying the genuineness of the pieces. The Poland collection of Henty family relics was sold by Kenneth Hince Book Auctions, 30 October 1979.''

Thomas Henty and family were among the first European setters in Victoria, arriving in 1834. Having found the Swan River Settlement unworthy of habitation, and missed land grants in Tasmania, they looked across Bass Strait to the "vacant' land and decided to try their luck. Although permission to the buy the land was refused, the actions of son James in London brought a partial reprieve: any land fenced and cultivated might be looked upon favourably by the Crown in the future. The Hentys, still unauthorized, set up base at Portland Bay. The charge was led by son Edward, who sailed from Launceston in the Thistle with livestock and a small number of party on 19 November 1834. Their arrival marked the first settlement in the Port Phillip District. His brother Francis followed a month later, bringing the first merinos to Victoria. They soon began whaling around Portland, and took flocks and herds inland along the Wannon River. When an official town was laid out at Portland and offered at public auction in 1839, the Hentys protested about having to bid for land they had pioneered. They finally won compensation in 1849. Meanwhile, in the 1840s the family had faced ruin in the collapse of stock and land values, and reorganized their farm holdings to survive. Edward Henty and his brothers held onto their wealth, enjoying large estates including Edward's 'Burrswood' near Portland (built circa 1856), and grand houses in Melbourne. 'Burrswood' was managed by William Poland, who lived until his 90s, dying in 1922 (see comment from Australian Book Auctions, below). Edward himself went on to a career in parliament, and died in 1878 at the age of 68, predeceasing his manager William by 44 years.

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