Henry Reed (merchant)

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Henry Reed
Henry Reed (merchant).jpg
Born 28 December 1806
Doncaster, England
Died 10 October 1880
Mount Pleasant, Tasmania
Education Apprentice
Occupation Merchant, landowner, philanthropist and evangelist
Spouse(s) Maria Susanna Grubb (1st), Margaret Sayres Elizabeth Frith (2nd)
Children 11 with first wife, 5 with second
Parents Samuel Reed and Mary Reed née Rockliff
Relatives Hudson Fysh, John Reed, Cynthia Nolan.

Henry Reed (28 December 1806 – 10 October 1880) was a British landowner, shipowner, merchant, philanthropist and evangelist.[1]

Life and work[edit]

Early life[edit]

At 13 he was apprenticed to a merchant in Hull. At 20 he sailed to Hobart Town. He walked to Launceston where he met John Gleadow and obtained a position in his store.

Reed was quick to see the value of land and convict labour. He acquired a land and established Reed & Duncan, general merchants. He soon owned ships for trading and a whaling station at Portland Bay which he later sold to the Henty brothers.

Adult life[edit]

In 1831 in London. Reed married his cousin Maria Susanna Grubb, established an important business connection with Henry Buckle & Co and returned to Van Diemen's Land. Reed loaned £3000 to John Batman to help start Melbourne. His ship, The Henry, in May 1836, had her name given to Point Henry near Moolap.

He bought Native Hut Corner near Mole Creek and renamed it Wesley Dale after John Wesley. In December 1835 he became an original director of the Bank of Australasia at Launceston and was appointed superintendent of the new Sunday school opened by the Paterson Street Methodist church.

By faith a Wesleyan and a fervent evangelist, he had ready sympathy for all unfortunates. At Port Phillip he spent some time up country with Aboriginals in hope of saving them from a fate like that of the Tasmanian tribes. He preached the first sermon on the site of Melbourne, his congregation being Henry and John Batman, William Buckley and three Sydney Aboriginals.

In December 1847 Reed sailed with his family in the Lochnagar for London. For the next twenty-six years he lived in England while his affairs in Launceston flourished and values appreciated. Reed's major interest, however, was evangelical. He undertook many preaching engagements and provided homes and assisted the poor. For his own large family he built Dunorlan Villa at Harrogate in Yorkshire. Later he moved to Tunbridge Wells where he built Dunorlan Park designed by Robert Marnock. Over the entrance his family crest showed a sheaf of wheat over the motto, 'nothing without the cross'.

Later life[edit]

Reed's wife died in 1860; she had borne him eleven children. In 1863 he married Margaret Sayres Elizabeth Frith of Enniskillen, Ireland, an ardent church worker, by whom he had five children. He helped William Booth with money and advice in the difficult formative years of the Salvation Army. Generous gifts were also made to other evangelical work such as the China Inland Mission and the East London Christian Mission. He compiled The Pioneer Hymn Book (London, 1870) and published two tracts, 'Be filled with the spirit' and 'Incidents in an eventful life', Dunorlan Tracts, 1-2 (London, 1873).

In April 1873, with his family and attendants, he sailed for Launceston where he bought and made Mount Pleasant the finest house in northern Tasmania and developed Wesley Dale. In 1875 he helped Rev. George Brown to establish the New Guinea Mission and bought for it the steam launch Henry Reed. In New Britain Brown named Henry Reed Bay in his honour. In Launceston he bought Parr's Hotel in Wellington Street in order to replace it with a mission church, which was completed in 1885 after his death as the Henry Reed Memorial Christian Mission Church, as were the nearby Dunorlan Cottages to provide free housing for elderly indigent women.

Reed spent much time with his family at Mountain Villa on Wesley Dale and was credited with discovering the Mole Creek caves. His health failed rapidly towards the end. He died at Mount Pleasant on 10 October 1880.


  1. ^ ADB article
  • Fysh, Wilmot Hudson Jr. (1973). Henry Reed: Van Diemen's Land Pioneer. Cat and Fiddle Press. 
  • Fysh, Wilmot Hudson Jr. (1967). 'Reed, Henry (1806-1880)' Australian Dictionary of Biography Vol 2. Melbourne University Press. 
  • Reed, Margaret S.E. (c. 1881). Henry Reed An Eventful Life devoted to God and man by his Widow. London: Morgan and Scott.