Royal Reels: Gambling


The cover is addressed to H. W. Huntington Esqre, District Court, Newcastle and the misperfed red 1d stamp of New South Wales has fine ‘Rays 355′ cancel of Stockton, N.S.W. (Figure 1).

The reverse has a reception postmark of NEWCASTLE/ 1/ AP 5/ 88/ N.S.W (Figure 2).

Henry William Hemsworth Huntington (1848-1926) came to New South Wales in about 1860 when he was 12 years of age. In 1879 he was appointed as a clerk in the Department of the Minister of Justice and Public Instruction. After several promotions, he was transferred to Newcastle in 1885 with his appointment as Registrar of Newcastle Court and Assistant Clerk of Petty Sessions at Newcastle.

During his lifetime he became a noted historian of his adopted country. Following his transfer from Newcastle to Newtown, Sydney in 1894, he appears to have undertaken the task of compiling a history of Newcastle and the Hunter District, N.S.W., scouring the printed volumes of Historical Records of NSW and the History of NSW from the Records which were at the time were of limited circulation. At the instigation of the Newcastle Morning Herald, Huntington published a series of 101 columns which appeared twice weekly from 10 August 1897 to 2 August 1898.

These newspaper columns were transcribed into a book, Huntington’s History of Newcastle and Northern Districts August 1897 – August 1898, and they provided a detailed record of a wide variety of 1897-98 events which were of considerable interest to the citizens of that period.

Given the richness and variety of the landscape and its vegetation, it was not surprising that the landscape was alive with fauna of great variety and numbers. Huntington described a rich fauna of emus, kangaroos, dingos and “gaily plumed birds” that frequented the metropolis. Only one Hunter Valley historian, Henry Huntington included the occurrence of earthquakes in his writing. After a brief discourse on earthquakes, volcanoes and other geological phenomena of the Hunter district, Huntington quoted from the journal of David D. Mann and other records in his possession, which indicated that two tremors were felt at Newcastle in 1801.

Many of the 101 columns that Huntington wrote in the Newcastle Morning Herald described the Aborigines of the area and incomplete sections of the columns are available on the internet. The following is an abbreviated section of a column which appeared on Tuesday, June 7, 1898 under the heading ‘ History of Newcastle and the Northern District’ (Figure 3)

The only additional information found was at the ‘TROVE’ archived newspapers in the SMH, 13 August 1937 on p. 19 ,which had a short paragraph which I am still trying to authenticate as being relevant to H.W.H. Huntington, and it read: ‘LAND TO BE SOLD FOR DEFAULT’: Henry William Hemsworth Huntington of Port Moresby, New Guinea and Henry Huntington of Waverley, overdue rates £30/10/- Land lot D.P. 10782 Whale Beach Rd., Whale Beach.

Addendum (October 2010): The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 30 October 1926 had an obituary of Mr. H. W. H. Huntington as follows:  The death occurred on Thursday morning at his residence, Stephen-street, Paddington of Mr. Henry William Hemsworth Huntington at the age of 78 years. 

Mr. Huntington was a member of an old Norfolk family, and was born at Burnley Hall.  He was a grandson of General Hethersett.  The late Mr. Huntington arrived in Sydney when 9 years of age, and his first position was in the office of Daniel Denichy, where young Huntington received a legal training.  He afterwards served with Mr. John Williamson, also a leading solicitor.  Mr. Huntington was Chief Clerk at the old Central Police Court, and later occupied a position in the Supreme Court,   His next appointments were as assistant C.P.S. at Newtown and Newcastle, returning to Newtown as C.P.S. and later becoming C.P.S. at Maclean.

The late Mr. Huntington was a member of the Royal Australian Historical Society, and was a life member, and the oldest member of the Sydney School of Arts.  He was regarded as an authority on early Sydney, and on Australian history generally.  He was a pioneer journalist of the staff of the “Empire”  and “Evening News”.  He was one of the founders of the Ragged School For Boys in Sydney.  The funeral took place yesterday afternoon in the South Head Cemetery. 

In The Sydney Morning Herald, 27 May 1904 I was able to resolve my problem about the paragraph concerning Huntington’s relationship to ‘LAND TO BE SOLD FOR DEFAULT’.  There was an article with a header BANKRUPTCY COURT which identified a Henry William Hemsworth junior, the son.  There is no doubt about this, for another entry in the SMH on 15 December, 1939, H.W.H. Huntington junior was described as “late of Papua”.

I am indebted to Sandra, Librarian, Newcastle Region Library for the obituary and the identification of his son, with the exact same name as Henry W.H. Huntington, senior.  As a follow-up, Sandra mailed to me a copy of an article by Norm Barney, Staff Writer of the Newcastle Morning Herald dated 1.10.1983, that local readers can access.  What follows is a precis of his biographical data He was born in London in 1848 and records at the Mitchell Library showed that at the age of 34 he was a clerk in the then N.S.W. in the Department of Justice and Public Instruction,  At the beginning of 1885 he was appointed Registrar of the Newcastle Court and assistant Clerk of Petty Sessions.  He spent almost 10 years in Newcastle living in Bingle and Church streets.  He returned to Sydney as assistant Clerk of Petty Sessions of Newtown, suburb of Sydney.

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