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SAMUEL HENRY M.H.A. to JAMES “PHILOSOPHER” SMITH

This cover has two prominent Tasmanians discussing a land tax problem. The On Public Service only (OPSO) stampless cover was sent to the ubiquitous receiver of mail, Mr. J. Smith, Westwood, Forth (Tasmania) and it has a very fine [CROWN]/ FREE/ 27 DE 27/ 1882 in a diamond shaped box, in black rather than the usual red. The inscription at the base shows that it originated at the Real Estate Duty Department and there is a manuscript written vertically at the left presumably relating to its contents, namely ‘Receipt 1882/ 32 Acres’. The sender has signed his name ‘Samuel Henry’ in blue crayon, and the vendor has identified the sender as being from the Launceston Branch of the Department. (Figure 1)

The information on the internet was remarkably sparse except for a fine photo of Samuel Henry at the State Library of Tasmania Images site, verified by 2 Tasmanian authorities as being the sender of the cover. The only personal information accompanying the photo were his dates, ca. 1825-1887. The first person to help expand my knowledge of Samuel Henry was Sally Vandenbergh, Librarian, at the Launceston Library. What follows is a modest reduction of the information provided: Born ca. 1823-1825, he was listed as a fancy bread and biscuit maker, Wellington Street, Launceston in 1844 and in 1853 he was listed as the Samuel Henry Deloraine Emporium. In 1854 the following listing appeared: Samuel Henry of Deloraine begs to inform the public he has now a wine and spirit license, and in 1867 the listing was changed to Samuel Henry sale of household and tavern effects at Deloraine.

Samuel Henry was married to 3 women at various times. Samuel, when aged 20 married Elizabeth Waddle, aged 22 on 4th April 1845. There were two children from this marriage, Catherine and Jesse. Elizabeth Henry died 2nd October 1949, aged 29. Samuel, aged 27 married Agnes Compere Uther, aged 16 on 10th July 1852. There was one child from this marriage, a daughter Agnes. Agnes, the wife, died 7th August 1853, aged 19. Samuel, aged 35 married Margaret Field aged 30, 1st May 1861. There were 4 children from this marriage. Ernest, Florence, Frank and Evelyn. The dates are not totally consistent, on account of the uncertainty of Samuel Henry’s birth date. Most of the information cited was derived from the newspaper, The Examiner.(Figure 2)

He was a Member of the Tasmanian Parliament, House of Assembly (MHA)1872 to1880, and in 1882 he moved from Deloraine to St Leonards. He died 25th Dec 1887, at his home "Maplestead" at St. Leonards, a village near Launceston. The cause of death was described as "Peri hepatits". He was buried at Cypress Street Cemetery (Church of England) 27th December 1887. Mrs Henry sold the family home "Maplestead" to a Mr. W.W. Fox.

On 1 April 1880, a separate department (as the Real Estate Duty Department) was established to collect the new direct taxes on land and on income from company dividends. Francis Butler, was appointed Chief Commissioner and head of the Department of Real Estate Duties, and he was based in Hobart; a Commissioner, Henry Samuel [sic] was in charge of the office in Launceston. This information was derived from Commissariat to Treasury, Heather Felton, p. 22.

I checked the Library of the Tasmanian Parliament’s website, and could find no mention of Samuel Henry or Henry Samuel as a member of the Parliament. A swift reply came from Sally Murdoch, Parliamentary Librarian who supplied information derived from the ‘Biographical Register of the Tasmanian Parliament 1851-1960' by Scott and Barbara Bennett, 1980, p. 81. There is confirmation of the above, with some additional information:

Samuel Henry, baker, miller, storekeeper was born ca. 1825 in Maidstone Kent, England, the son of William Henry a soldier and his wife Elizabeth. He arrived in Tasmania in 1834 and was installed by his father in a bakery in Launceston, ca. 1843; he moved to Deloraine in the early 1850's and purchased Clayton’s steam flour mills; he also owned the Deloraine Emporium; appointed Commissioner under the Real and Personal States Act of 1880; went to St. Leonards and sat on the Deloraine Municipal Council. He was the MHA for Deloraine Sept 1872 to April 1880. Samuel Henry spent almost his entire working career in Northern Tasmania, except when he was the MHA for Deloraine and he would have spent time in Hobart for Parliamentary meetings. The map shows Launceston, Deloraine and St. Leonards (Figure 3).

The addressee, James “Philosopher” Smith was better known than Henry Samuel and his history is well covered at this website under Mourning Covers: James “Philosopher” Smith (1827-97).

The acknowledgements to the 2 Tasmanian librarians (Sally Vandenberg and Sally Murdoch) who contributed to the completion of this paper has been incorporated into the text of this paper.


 
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