Henry Thomas was born in 1804, the son of Philip Thomas an early Industrialist. Philip was the first manager of Newbridge Chains Works (Pontypridd Wales) and jointly held with (Sir) Captain Samuel Brown the patent registered in 1816 for chain links for anchor chain. Philip also oversaw the building of suspension bridges in Wales and England including superintending Brighton Chain Pier.
In 1843 Henry Thomas of Clarence Street north placed a death notice for his father acknowledging his achievements. Henry set sail in December 1823 from Downs, England to Australia aboard the Brothers and arrived in May 1824 as a free settler and was listed as a carpenter. On 6 December 1828 he was granted permission to marry Harriet Wakefield a convict.
Harriet Wakefield had worked as a needlewoman when she was convicted, aged 17, at Nottingham Assizes in March 1828 for robbing a person at Nottingham Barracks and sentenced to death with her co-accused Ann Stubbs. Harriet’s conviction was petitioned and the sentence commuted to 14 years transportation. She arrived in Sydney Cove in October 1828.
Henry and Harriet were married on 24 December 1828 in the Church of St James by Rev R Hill. St James Church is located in King Street, Sydney. The couple had ten children. Two of their sons, Reuben and Philip, became undertakers and Philip also held a pub licence. Harriet died in March 1855, aged 43. Later that year in October, Henry remarried a widow named Eliza M Martin.
Henry Thomas died in September 1884 at 153 Clarence Street and was buried at Wesleyan Cemetery in Devonshire Street.
Occupation & interests
In 1842-43, Henry Thomas was living in a house in Clarence Street, Sydney and by 1844 he was a cabinetmaker and undertaker. In January 1844 Thomas was granted a coach license and in 1846, he was listed as an auctioneer, appraiser, valuator and collector of rents. In 1851, his premises were in King Street West, however, by 1854 he was listed as living in Newtown Road, Newtown.
In 1855 Thomas formed and became Chair of the Newtown Rifle Club and in 1858, he registered a patent ‘for an improved apparatus to be used on dry land for training oarsmen and other athletes’ (which was abandoned on 28 June 1891). In 1864 he donated a silver eel to the Australian Museum.
In 1877, a carpenter named Henry Thomas had premises at Rose Street, Darlington, with a private residence at Raglan Street.
In 1855 Henry Thomas was a member of the Volunteer Sydney Rifle Corps, a citizen militia force.
Honours & awards
In 1844 Henry Thomas was presented with a silver medal and tablet by the officers and brothers of the Royal Fountain of Refuge Lodge No 3369.
Local government service
Henry Thomas was elected Councillor of the Sydney City Council from 1 November 1849 until 31 December 1853 when the Council was replaced by City Commissioners. In 1859, he was poundkeeper in Newtown.
Society of Australian Genealogists: AGCI index
A W Skempton, A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland 1500-1830, Volume 1 (London: Thomas Telford, 2002), p. 86
1823-1825 General Muster for NSW, Class: HO 10; Piece: 20
Census 1828: Harriet Wakefield
Registers of Convict Applications to marry, 1828-1851
Marriage certificate: Henry Thomas, Bachelor of the Parish of Sydney; aged 24 years, per brothers 1824, a Cabinet-maker. Witnesses were Thomas Stevenson of Cumberland Street and Mary Le Burn of No 44 Cumberland Street.
1840 Pardon: Harriet Wakefield – Certificate of Freedom No 42/759 – Prisoners No 28/281.
Harriet Thomas Death Certificate Ref No Vol 110 No 11881 – Residence Newtown
Henry Thomas Death Certificate Ref: 1884/1695 death at 153 Clarence Street Sydney retired Cabinet Maker.
‘List of Donations to the Australian Museum‘, 14 April 1864, The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 3.
Sands Directories, 1858/59, via Newtown Project