Henry Crothers was born 16 November 1854 at 11 Gordon Street, Everton, a suburb of Liverpool, Lancashire, the fourth child of Joseph and Ellen. His brother, John, was 4 at the time. Another brother, Joseph, 2, had died just 11 days before Henry was born.
Henry left England on the Indian Queen, with his parents and John, when it sailed from Liverpool on 18 September 1855. He arrived in Hobart, via Melbourne, on 22 January 1856.
Nothing was known about Henry, after his arrival in Tasmania, until a folder containing details of his father’s intestacy was discovered in the Tasmanian Archives in 2016.
It was presumed, till then, that he had died young and most likely had been buried in an unmarked grave in the cemetery of St Marks, Pontville.
Now we know that he was still alive in 1871, aged 16, and was apprenticed to Edward Thwaites, a shoemaker in Pontville.
Henry was present at an auction of his father’s possessions on 27 March 1871. He spent one shilling buying 3 brass breast pins, 2 pocket knives, one necktie and a Bible.
There is only one more piece of information about Henry. A chit showing the approximate ages of the siblings at their father’s death in 1871 has “Henry 15”. Over the top of the name is added, in pencil, “dead”. This addition probably came in 1887 when brothers Robert, of Melbourne, and William, of Duntroon, New Zealand, applied for their share of their father’s estate. This move followed William’s advertisement in the Hobart Mercury in March 1887, wanting to know the whereabouts of his siblings, John, Robert and Elizabeth. The fact he did not name Henry indicates he was aware his brother had died.
But when and where did Henry die? If he had died in Pontville, there surely would have been an official Tasmanian record, given that he was known locally as the son of a late trooper. It is likely he left the State, perhaps soon after reaching adulthood in November 1875.
The hunt continues for Henry’s life story, and its ending, in another State or perhaps even in New Zealand.