Friday, June 10, 2011

A Local with Indian Connections

I grew up in a country town and went to the local high school. One of the stories I heard in my first year was about a family vault on top of a large hill overlooking the town. What was interesting was that one of the bodies had been interred allegedly standing up in order to survey the town.  We climbed up the hill one day when we should have been at school expecting to see, well... I don't know what... The view was great though!

Now what has this got to do with India? Well, the body standing up was that of Henry Colden Antill who had served in India at Seringapatam in 1799, carrying the Regimental Colours through the Breech.

Henry Colden Antill from Mitchell Library Collection
 Antill was born on 1 May 1779 in New York. His great-grandfather had migrated from England in 1680. His father was a major in the New Jersey Volunteers during the War of Independence, had his property confiscated and then moved to Canada as did many loyalists.

73rd Foot c 1786 from Black Watch Museum
 In 1796 Antill joined the British army as an ensign in the 73rd Regiment. He served in India and at Seringapatam was severely wounded in the shoulder. As a result of his service at Seringapatam he was promoted lieutenant and about this time became friends with Captain Lachlan Macquarie.

 Antill returned to England in 1807 and in 1809 gained his captaincy. In the same year he sailed to Australia with the 73rd Regiment, now commanded by Macquarie who had been appointed the fifth Governor of New South Wales. He was Macquarie's aide-de-camp and in 1811 was promoted major of brigade.  Antill was also a member of various committees concerned with the welfare of orphans, public schools and Aboriginals. and firmly supported the emancipist cause. He was a director of the first bank in Australia -Bank of New South Wales -between 1819-21.

Part of Antill's estate as it looks today
He married the daughter of an emancipist in 1818 at St Phillip's Church Sydney. In 1821 he retired from the army on half-pay, ultimately settling on his estate near Picton, named Jarvisfield in honour of Macquarie's first wife, Jane Jarvis, whom he had known in India.

The Breech where Antill was shot - with monument to the British fallen
Antill was appointed a justice of the peace in 1821 and in 1829 became resident magistrate and superintendent of police for the district. 

Painting of the Breech c.1800
He was well known for his generosity and for his earnest religious outlook which included a strict Sabbatarianism. He died at Jarvisfield on 14 August 1852.



  1. and as a bit of a wanderlust hippie in Tasmania in 1974 I spent a number of weeks in the company of one of his descendants, who was, at the time , a rather out there middle aged, sort of failed Sci Fi writer ,ex public Servant ,late blooming hippie , Keith Antill..quite a character..especially at Bicheno YHA

  2. Henry's grandson was a Brigade Major at Gallipolli where on 7 August 1915 he ordered the 8th & 10th Light Horse to advance resulting in 50% of the men killed in addition to those that were wounded.

    He still retired a Major General.