The life of Henry Parkes – 201 years on

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Henry Parkes

Today is Henry Parkes’ birthday – 201 years ago today, Henry was born in the Moat Cottage, Canley on the estate of Stoneleigh, Warwickshire, England.

By any measure, his life was ‘big’; it was marked with successes and failures in equal measure, professionally, personally and particularly financially.  It was a life of constant struggle.

  • He was born on 27 May 1815
  • He arrived in Australia in 1839 with his wife and new born child
  • He married three times – Clarinda (1836), Eleanor (1889) and Julia (1895)
  • He was the father of 17 children, 6 of whom died before him
  • He went bankrupt on 3 separate occasions, the time in 1858 owing the equivalent of  $20 million in today’s money
  • With all of his public ‘achievements’, he died bankrupt and at the mercy of benefactors in 1896.

In public life:

  • He remains NSW longest serving Premier, serving for 11 years, 9 months and 13 days on 5 separate occasions between 1872 and 1891
  • He represented 9 different electorates between 1854 and 1895
  • He sat on 227 Parliamentary Committees

He is best remembered as Australia’s ‘Father of Federation’ but he is much more than that.  He deserves more than to be relegated to mere ‘cliche’ and if we are prepared to ‘listen’, we stand to benefit greatly from the experiences and example of his life.

Thank you Henry!

Who’s Henry?

Jane Reynolds

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