Charles John, son of Nicholas Belfield and Eliza (née Lascelles) Dennys, was born in 1818 in England. He was an early settler of Geelong, arriving in the colony in 1842.
He married his cousin Martha Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Allen Lascelles, on 8 November 1855 at Trinity Church at Barrabool. They had the following children:
Ethel — born 9 Jun 1857, married Edward Harewood Lascelles on 21 February 1889 at Christ Church, died in 1952 at South Yarra aged 95
unnamed female — born 4 September 1858, died soon after of spinal injuries caused by extreme fright which happened to mother during pregnancy
Laura — born 9 August 1859, married Holford Highlord Wettenhall, died in 1932 at Armadale aged 73 years.
Emmeline — born 19 November 1861, died 1941 at Toorak aged 79
In 1847 he bought the Barwon Melting Establishment, a tallow-rendering works below the breakwater. In 1850 a leather warehouse was added. Back then both sides of the river were called Breakwater. Now the area north of Waurn Ponds Creek is known as Belmont and the area south of the creek is called Marshall. Early in 1851 Dennys decided to retire from the business for a while and took a trip to England. After he returned he decided to put the melting establishment up for sale. The sale was on 28 August 1854, but the buildings did not sell. By November he was successful in renting out the business to Samuel Bradley Corrigan. On 19 June 1857 Corrigan decided to buy the works for £1400.
Dennys then concentrated on wool broking and the selling of wool by auction. He leased the large stores erected by George Armytage on Victoria Terrace (now Western Beach Road) and west of Gheringhap Street. He had a number of partnerships. In 1868 the business purchased an old coal yard on the corner of Moorabool and Brougham Streets where they built an imposing bluestone wool store and offices. This building is now occupied by the National Wool Museum.
He was appointed First Secretary of the District Council of Grant on 19 October 1843. He was one of the first councillors of the Shire of South Barwon, serving from 1857 to 1859.
In 1851 Dennys had bought five farms from W C Haines at Barrabool which he leased out to farmers including Giacomo Auchetto and R Woodward.
He lived at Claremont (then called Claremont Hall), in Noble Street, Newtown from 1876 until his death on 4 February, 1898 aged 80 years. He was survived by his children Laura, Emmeline and Ethel. Martha had died at Claremont on 11 April, 1896 at the age of 72. The flags were flying at half-mast on various wool warehouses and several private buildings on Monday 13 April as a mark of respect on the day of her interment at the Eastern Cemetery. The funeral cortege was a lengthy one.
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