Henry Alexander came from famous ancestry.
Henry Alexander came from famous ancestry. Samantha Elley

Quiet man came from history-making grandfather

HENRY Alexander was an unassuming farmer who didn't crave a public life.

In his obituary in 1939 he was described as someone who was always ready to assist with any worthwhile organisation or charity.

One of the original nine students enrolled at Eltham public school in 1883, what most people didn't know about Henry Alexander is that he came from a very respected lineage.

Mr Alexander's maternal grandfather was one Private Joseph Harris of his Majesty's 39th regiment of Foot.

Private Harris was an orderly to Captain Charles Napier Sturt (then Ensign) in the Peninsular War.

The Peninsular War was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the Kingdom of Portugal, for control of the Iberian Peninsular during the Napoleonic Wars.

Private Harris followed Sturt when he came out to Australia and accompanied him on both Sturt's expeditions to the Darling and Murray Rivers.

Sturt wrote of Harris:

"First stands Joseph Harris, who in good report and evil has stood by me throughout my military career.”

For his services Harris was given a grant of 100 acres of land near Port Kembla.

The Northern Star noted that the admirable qualities of his grandfather had been passed on to Mr Alexander.

It was one of the largest funerals of its day with more than 80 wreaths laid and the pupils of Mr Alexander's former school forming a guard of honour at the service and at the cemetery.

He is buried next to his parents and his headstone also remembers his son Campbell Dixon Alexander who died in France in 1917 and is buried in the Nine Elme British Cemetery in Belgium.


  • 'Peninsula War', Wikipedia, wikipedia.org, accessed April 4, 2018
  • 'Charles Sturt', Wikipedia, wikipedia.org, accessed April 4, 2018
  • 'Obituary: Mr Henry Alexander', The Northern Star, Monday, October 16, 1939 P.10