In 1887 Henry Penketh Fergie took his wife and daughter, both named Frances, on a round-the-world trip. They sailed from Australia to New Zealand, then, via Rio de Janeiro and Tenerife, to England, where they stayed for six months. From England they made delightful trips to Wales, Scotland, France and Switzerland. Henry also travelled to Ireland with a life-long friend, Hugh Williams. As the northern winter set in, the family bid goodbye to their relations and friends for the last time, and returned to Australia via the Suez Canal, Aden, and Colombo.
Throughout his journey, Henry kept a detailed diary, which is reproduced in full in this book. The diary describes his reunions with the family he left over thirty years earlier, his encounters with a sprinkling of notable figures in Victorian society, and his experiences of the new industrial world, some of its greatest technological achievements and its dizzying social upheaval.
Henry Penketh Fergie was well known throughout Melbourne, Australia. He was a leader of the group of local businessmen who effected the break-away of Fitzroy from Melbourne, thus creating the first suburb of Victoria. It was Henry who in 1882 proposed the Melbourne tram system. For all his achievements, Henry’s greatest pride was his yacht, Wanderer, considered by some to be the finest south of the equator. However, his glittering career was to end, like that of the yacht, tragically and ignominiously.
Mark Peters has provided hundreds of illuminating footnotes to the 1887 diary, explaining the significance of the individuals and places that Henry mentions, and documenting Henry’s extensive network of relationships. The life of Henry — his boyhood days in Liverpool, his rise to the top of society in Melbourne, and the eventual collapse of his financial empire — has been extensively researched through newspaper articles of the day, and the full biographical story is told for the first time in these pages.