John Hensley was a Barrabool Shire councillor, serving from 1866 until 1871, but his life in Australia began many years before he came to the Geelong district. He was born in 1821 in Bristol, England. In 1838 at the age of 17 he emigrated with his 24 year old brother, Charles, on the Pestonjee Bomanjee to South Australia. In 1852 they bought the 79 square mile property Cairnbank in the south east. A number of successful years allowed them to pay off their loan in six years and then to have a two storey Georgian mansion to be built on the station. For eighteen years he had prosperity he never expected allowing him to expand to Pinnaroo, Mount Elgin and Bleak House stations. His brother, Charles, died on 30 April, 1878 at Cairnbank.
During this time in South Australia he had married Mary, daughter of John and Elizabeth (née McLean) Hay and they had several children:
Richard — born 1847
Elizabeth — born 1849, married Rev John Sinclair on 27 August 1878
Mary Harriet — born 1851, married Robert Laidlaw Fletcher on 5 June 1873, buried in an unknown location in the Mount Moriac Cemetery on 17 November 1942
William Hay — born 1753, married Mary Annie Hudson in 1888 at Norwood, Adelaide
John Alexander — born 1856, married Katie McCullock on 21 May 1891, died 21 February 1921
Jesse Susan — born about 1859, married Robert Henry Boadle on 5 June 1888 at Cairnbank, died on 22 October 1946 at Nhill Hospital
Margaret Annie Stewart — born 1861, married George McCoy on 16 April 1885 at Ewerby Mount Moriac
Charles James — born 1863
In 1865 he moved to the Geelong district. In 1872 he was at Ewerby in Mill Road (Hendy Main Road, north of the Colac Road), Mount Moriac, a property previously owned by Benjamin Tindale, a native of Ewerby near Sleaford in Lincolnshire. In 1875 he bought Minter's Mount Moriac Estate of 680 acres. He eventually owned 5112 acres.
His first setback was in November 1872 with the failure of the Provincial and Suburban Bank. The directors were prosecuted for fraud. Then the pastoralists started to have their land forcibly resumed for agricultural selection. These events caused him great financial hardship.
In 1874 he was elected a trustee of St Thomas' Church of England in Winchelsea. In 1882 he retired to a new house built in Latrobe Terrace, Geelong, leaving his son-in-law to run Ewerby. He died of bronchitis on 29 September 1891 at the age of 70 at the Free Presbyterian Manse in Great Myers Street, the residence of his son-in-law with whom he had lived for the previous two years. Mary had died the previous year on 5 January aged 66. They are both buried in the Presbyterian section of the Geelong Eastern Cemetery.
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