Malpas, Henry

Date of Birth/Death:


Henry Malpas – storekeeper & post-master

Henry Malpas was born in 1823 in Chapel Street off the Edgeware Road, in the parish of Paddington, London. Young Henry Malpas, aged 17 years, travelled to South Australia with his parents John Malpas (1792-1877) and Elizabeth (née Chapman) (1793-1843) and two sisters, aboard Lysander, arriving in 1840. Henry worked as a machinist with his father and then as a shepherd at Myponga. In 1849, Henry Malpas purchased Allotments 1, 2 and 3 on St Peters Terrace in Willunga from Thomas Smith Kell and he built a single storey general store and residence. In October 1849, Henry Malpas was appointed post-master taking over postal duties from the Willunga police and he also built two brick cottages at 3 and 5 St Peters Terrace that he leased or rented out. Henry served as post-master from 1849 until 1858 when the mail license was transferred to the new (third) post office at the top of High Street, opposite the Courthouse.

In 1853 Henry Malpas married Mary Anne Allen (1832–1912), daughter of John Allen. They had eight children (5 boys and 3 girls; 2 died in infancy):

  • William (1854-1875) b. at Willunga, d. aged 21 years at Willunga, buried in St. Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • Catherine (1856-1940) b. at Willunga, m. (1st) Charles Lawrance (1846-1888) on 17 April 1876 at St Stephens Anglican Church, Willunga, 3 children, (2nd) James Arthur Hughes (1867-1938) on 8 March 1893 at Cape Borda Telegraph Station, Kangaroo Island, d. at Victor Harbor & buried in St. Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • Edward (1858-1932) b. at Willunga, m. Marie Emma Goldsmith (1856-1938) on 25 March 1880 in the Wesleyan Church, North Adelaide, 1 son, d. at Sydney and cremated at Rookwood Cemetery.
  • Georgina (1860-1920) b. at Willunga, m. Dr. Thomas James (1848-1926) in 1885 at Christ Church, North Adelaide, 4 children, d. at Adelaide.
  • Godfrey (1866-1898) b. at Willunga, m. Pricilla Jane Hillman (1869-1956) at the Bible Christian Church, Willunga on 22 March 1893, 2 children, d. in an accident, aged 32 years, at Willunga & buried in St. Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • Millicent (1870-1870) b. at Willunga, d. aged 1 month at Willunga & buried in St. Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • Henry Gilbert (1871-1872) b. at Willunga, d. aged 6 months at Willunga & buried in St. Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.
  • James Stanley (1873-1937) b. at Willunga, d. aged 64 years at Willunga & buried in St. Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.

Over the years Henry became a significant land-owner, both in the township of Willunga (from 1858 lots 44 and 59 and later from 1872 lots 14, 15 & 16 on St Peters Terrace) and in the wider district (from 1871 – sections 276, 10 acres in 576 & 80 acres in 577 at Sellicks Hill). Some of this land he leased to men like Frank Culley and Matthew Hunt and he also provided mortgage funding for local residents.

Mary Anne managed the household, assisted with the store and, with her kindly nature, had a large circle of friends. In 1860 she officiated at the presentation of a flag to Captain Atkinson of the Willunga Volunteers Regiment and spoke eloquently of their role in the community. The Malpas general store traded successfully until at least 1890, surviving a massive fire in 1870 that burnt all the outbuildings. In 1865 the South Australian Weekly Chronicle reported that Mrs. Malpas at Willunga is erecting a very imposing house and store at the post-office (now Willunga House at 1 St Peters Terrace). In the spacious garden Henry built an immense aviary with numerous parrots and canaries. Henry Malpas served as Warden, Lay reader and Organist at St Stephen’s Church, was a member of the Willunga Board of Advice (overseeing education in the district), a Justice of the Peace for 30 years and a Trustee of the Agricultural Hall and the Recreation Ground. He was the local agent and correspondent for The Register newspaper. In 1884 he funded a Natural Science Scholarship at Prince Alfred College, attended by his youngest son James Stanley. Henry was a Justice of the Peace and he was active in St Stephens Anglican Church as church warden, lay preacher and organist.

When he retired in 1869 Henry Malpas was reputedly worth 20,000 pounds and was one of the wealthiest men in the district. In retirement, Henry was a great walker, once accepting a challenge to walk to Adelaide in one day. Most Sundays he walked five miles up Taylors Hill, along Range Road and down the Cut Hill. He enjoyed regular afternoon chats with his elderly neighbour Simon Sibly. Henry Malpas died on 29 Jan 1910, aged 84, and he was survived by his wife and four of his nine children. They are buried in St Stephens Anglican Cemetery, Willunga.


South Australian Births – Index of Registrations 1842-1906
South Australian Deaths Index of Registrations 1842-1915
South Australian Marriages Index of Registrations 1842-1916
Willunga National Trust Blue Folder – Family Histories
Passengers in History – South Australian Maritime Museum
Ratepayer List Willunga & Aldinga Councils 1850-1888
Ancestry (online)
SA Genealogy database (online)
SAILIS (online) CT 43/27
1849 ‘STOREKEEPERS’ LICENCES‘, Adelaide Observer 17 March, p. 2. (Supplement to the “Adelaide Observer.”), viewed 06 Jan 2024,
1849 ‘POST-OFFICE APPOINTMENTS‘, South Australian Register 10 November, p. 4. , viewed 06 Jan 2024,
1854 ‘Advertising‘, South Australian Register 19 May, p. 4. , viewed 05 Jan 2024,
1865 ‘THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT‘, South Australian Weekly Chronicle 7 January, p. 1. (Supplement to the South Australian Weekly Chronicle), viewed 05 Jan 2024,
1870 ‘WILLUNGA‘, The Irish Harp and Farmers’ Herald 1 January, p. 6. , viewed 05 Jan 2024,
1884 ‘PRINCE ALFRED COLLEGE‘, Adelaide Observer (SA : 1843 – 1904), 20 December, p. 27. , viewed 06 Jan 2024,
1890 ‘Advertising‘, Evening Journal 8 October, p. 1. (SECOND EDITION), viewed 05 Jan 2024,
1910 ‘Mr. Henry Malpas‘, Observer 5 February, p. 37. , viewed 06 Jan 2024,

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