Henry Kable Junior was born in Norwich Castle gaol on 17 February 1786. His father, Henry Cabell, had met and fallen in love with Susannah Holmes in the gaol while both were serving sentences for different offences. In those times the gaols held both male and female prisoners. Though Henry and Susannah sought permission to marry on several occasions from the Governor, their requests were refused. Despite locked cells and officialdom the inevitable happened; Susannah bore Henry a son.
In November 1786 Susannah and her little, sickly looking child, Henry, with a number of other female prisoners were taken to Plymouth to join the transports of the First Fleet. They were escorted by the turnkey, or gaoler, John Simpson to Charlotte. When Susannah and baby Henry approached the ship the Captain Thomas Gilbert refused to allow the child aboard, saying there were no papers for him. John Simpson argued unsuccessfully with Gilbert that the mother and child should not be separated.
Simpson, a humane man, hurried to London with the baby to make a successful plea to the Home Secretary, Lord Sydney. Lord Sydney was so moved by the story that he arranged for the child to be returned to its mother and for the father to be permitted to marry Susannah and accompany them to the Colony. Sydney generously paid the marriage fees, although the ceremony did not take place before their departure. After a London newspaper printed the story, a Mrs Jackson of Somerset Street, London, promoted a public subscription which raised twenty pounds and was used to purchase books, comforts and clothes. These items were consigned aboard Alexander under command of Duncan Sinclair. The child was listed as Henry Holmes when he left England with his parents on Friendship.
At Cape Town Susannah and her son were transferred to Charlotte to make room for livestock. Henry Cabell and Susannah Holmes were united at Port Jackson and finally married on 10 February 1788 by the Reverend Richard Johnson, two weeks after arriving in the Colony.
When the consignment on Alexander was applied for, only books to the value of five pounds were forthcoming, the rest of the items having gone missing. In July 1788 Henry Cabell sued the master, Duncan Sinclair, for loss of the goods en route. He won his case, receiving fifteen pounds compensation. This action was the first law suit in the Colony.
Henry Junior, called “Harry” by his parents, together with his six-week-old sister, Diana, were baptised by the Reverend Richard Johnson on the 5 December 1788. He was attending school in Sydney when his father wrote to Harry’s grandmother in November 1798. And it was about this period, the late 1790s, that the family name was legally changed to Kable.
From an early age Harry worked for his father in the sealing grounds and later as master of his father’s trading vessels. In 1799 15-year-old Henry sailed as master’s mate on Rolla and was away for about four years voyaging to the Pacific Islands, Asia, India, Cape of Good Hope and England. In 1803 while launching the 75-ton schooner Governor King, the biggest vessel to have been built to this time, Harry had his right arm severely damaged. Although this was to cause him some inconvenience he continued his life at sea. In April 1807 he was master of the brig Hannah and Sally. The following year he was appointed master of the brig Trial, owned jointly by his father and Simeon Lord.
In 1810, Harry bought Geordy and formed a shipping partnership with his brother-in-law, William Gaudry for the pork trade in Tahiti and local trade on the Hawkesbury. In effect Harry had taken over his father’s shipping and mercantile business.
In the Sydney Gazette of 27 April 1811 Harry advertised for muskets for his crew. He carried the muskets to Otaheite, exchanged them for a full load of sandalwood, took the wood to India and exchanged it for a hold full of rum. The rum was carried back to the Colony and sold for a handsome profit. In 1812, while master of Endeavour, Harry was charged with having brought from the island of Bolla Bolla three female natives of the Society Islands, contrary to the legislation of the colony. The Endeavour was wrecked by Harry at the mouth of the Shoalhaven River in 1813, his only shipping loss as master.
In September 1813 Harry and his brother Charles were found guilty of assaulting Thomas Wood, a constable at Windsor in the execution of his duty. They were sentenced to pay a fine of ten pounds.
For nearly 20 years Harry sailed as a seaman, navigator and captain across the oceans of the world and along the coast of NSW. He never married.
By 1822 he had decided to leave the sea for good and settle on the land. He made an application (or a memorial as it was then known) to Governor Thomas Brisbane for a land grant. The memorial stated that he had lost the use of his right arm; that he had been assisting his father through a difficult period; that a younger brother could now take over and help his father. Harry hoped to “settle himself comfortably” on his own. No remarks appear on the 1822 memorial and no grant materialised. Two years later, another petition for a grant was sent to the Governor, signed by Wm Cox, H. Brabyn and Arch. Bell, all magistrates and J.P.s. These three strongly recommended that the petitioner receive a land grant. Again there is no record of any land having been granted to him. The 1828 Census shows that Henry Junior was living with his father on a 30-acre farm at Pitt Town.
Vanderville was a 2000 acre holding between the Cow Pastures and Stonequarry Creek (Picton) granted to Lt John Henry Wild by Governor Macquarie in the 1820s. The village of workers on Vanderville ultimately developed into today’s township of The Oaks. In 1833 the property passed to John Benton Wild and his wife Emmeline Ann Gaudry, who was Harry’s niece. In March 1846, Henry Kable, the elder, died at Windsor. Harry moved to Vanderville to live for the remainder of his life, as a pound-keeper.
Henry Kable, the younger, died at Vanderville on 15 May 1852, aged 66 years and was buried in St Matthew’s churchyard in The Oaks. He had no known descendants, unless he left an offspring in England, Otaheite or one of his many other overseas ports of call. Henry’s nephew, George Littleton Gaudry, is buried next to him, while the grave of his sister, Susannah Mileham, is nearby, surrounded by an iron picket fence. Susannah’s headstone reads: “She hath done what she could”. All three helped with the management of Vanderville estate over many years.
(Published on http://www.fellowshipfirstfleeters.org.au/henry_kable_junior.htm)