Sunday, March 25, 2007

Half the local Aussie population is leaving!

Sheridan Henty arrived in Pont-en-Royans in May 2003, having purchased a huge village house on the banks of the Bourne that was rebuilt in 1955 after the Nazi bombing of 21 July 1944. The original owner was a maquisard named Hugues Reynaud du Charmeil, killed in the bombardment.

When I first met up with Sheridan (an inevitable encounter in an environment where we were the only two Australians), I was amazed to learn that she was the sole descendant of the famous Henty brothers who left England on the barque Caroline and reached the Swan River, Western Australia, on 12 October 1829. [I remember that date because my brother Don was born on 12 October 1941, and our father died on 12 October 1978.] This tiny fuzzy drawing, executed by James Henty, shows the Caroline anchored off Rottnest Island:

Shortly after Sheridan's arrival, I learned by chance that my ancestor Charles Walker [1807-1860] had reached Sydney on that same ship, working as a steward, on 6 August 1833. So, there we were in Pont-en-Royans, two shipwrecked Aussies whose ancestors had reached the New World on the same vessel.

Unfortunately, Sheridan has discovered that she cannot carry on living in Pont-en-Royans, so she has sold her house and will be moving back to Paris in the next few days. Yesterday, there was a delightful farewell luncheon for Sheridan in an excellent village restaurant.


Meanwhile, Sheridan Henty has given me officially the task of obtaining a valuation of her mysterious and magnificent ceramic plaque of a youthful Victoria. [Click here to visit my website.]

Back at school in South Grafton, we children learned that the Hentys couldn't stay for long in Western Australia because their English animals, brought out on the Caroline, ate poisonous weeds and died. So they left for what would later become the city of Melbourne, and they got involved in Tasmanian whaling. Here in the Royans, there are no poisonous weeds, but Sheridan is leaving us all the same. When a Henty moves, there might be great changes, as in the old radio saga of When a girl marries. In any case, whales in the Seine should be warned of impending danger.

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