My 1st cousin four times removed Henry Arthur Mainwaring (1852–1877) was the fourth of the ten children of the Reverend Charles Henry Mainwaring (1819–1878), rector of Whitmore, and his wife Jane née Delves-Broughton (1824–1873), daughter of a Staffordshire baronet.

At the time of the 1871 census Henry was recorded as 19 years old, with no occupation, living at Whitmore rectory with his parents and siblings.

Unwilling to follow his father into the Church and, perhaps responding to an urge for adventure, Henry decided to try his luck abroad. He left Whitmore and England (I am not sure exactly when) and took up farming in a remote corner of South America.

Perhaps Henry had heard a lecture on opportunities overseas like the talk on “South America as a Field for Emigration” given by Richard Seymour, who had spent four years in Argentina. Like Henry, Richard was the son of a cleric, the Reverend R. Seymour of Kinwarton, a Warwickshire village. (The lecture was reported in the Alcester Chronicle of 8 January 1870.)

After giving an introduction to the history and geography of Argentina, Seymour mentioned that the expense of travelling to Buenos Aires— £15 to £50— was very reasonable for a distance of 7,000 miles. Seymour and his partner had bought 36 square miles (nearly 25,000 acres) of beautiful grassland for 6 pence an acre. The land was beside the River Saladillo; a drought would not be a complete disaster.

Seymour argued that what Argentina needed was settlers, who would provide a measure of mutual protection. A number of families would not suffer from the monotony felt by solitary settlers. Seymour told his audience that living was cheap and that meat in particular was plentiful. He spoke of the fertile soil which did not need manure for crops to flourish. He ended his lecture by stating that “if he could help in any way any persons who wished to try their fortunes in the Argentine Republic, he should be only too glad to do so.”

Grazing land in the pampas, Argentina. Photographed in 2007 by Maximiliano Alba. Image from Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 2.5

Argentina’s agricultural colonies

In 1864 a farming colony had established on the western Pampas at Fraile Muerto ‘Dead Friar’ in Córdoba province, Argentina. The area was 300 miles (500 km) north-west of Buenos Aires. In founding this, Anthony Maitland Bell (1834–1876) and Robert Anderson Bell (1835–1881), from Dunbar in Scotland, were following the experience of Scots and Irish immigrants who had, a generation earlier, established large, unfenced sheep runs in the Province of Buenos Aires. The original intention had been to raise cattle and sheep, but crops paid better and the early settlers moved to to arable farming.

Map of the Argentine Republic in 1869. Bell Ville (formerly known as Fraile Muerto) is midway between Córdoba and Rosario. Map by user Jorge_salazar_1. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 4.0.

From the late 1860s, with the area connected by rail to Buenos Aires 300 miles to the south-east, more English, Scottish, and Irish immigrants began to arrive, attracted by the quality of the land and its low cost.

In 1869 Thomas Large Henly, from Calne, Wiltshire, advertised a scheme in which young men were offered the opportunity to learn farming and eventually own a plot of land in the Santa Fe region of Argentina. In April 1870 Henly sailed on the Royal Mail Steamer Oneida from England with his family and 80 young men each of whom had paid £150 to join the scheme.

The enterprise was generally well regarded, and it had the support of the Argentine President, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento. This second colony, however, was doomed to failure. The person with whom Henly had contracted to buy land (some 27,000 acres) near Fraile Muerto turned out to be a con-man. There was no land. Henley’s colony folded and the colonists dispersed.

It appears that Henry Mainwaring probably joined a similar scheme, for he had been living at Los Quebrachos, about four miles south of Fraile Muerto (which was renamed Bell Ville). Sadly, on 3 October 1877, Henry died, only 25 years old (I have not been able to find any record giving his cause of death). Henry was buried the next day in the Fraile Muerto Protestant Cemetery.

Henry Mainwaring was unlucky to die so young so far from home. I hope he enjoyed his brief career as a South American farmer.

Related posts and further reading

Wikitree: Henry Arthur Mainwaring (1852 – 1877)