Henry Hallett, son of John Hallett, came to South Australia, with his parents who were only 23 years old. Henry, who was one year old, his parents, and two other siblings sailed on the 316 ton barque Africaine, of which his father John was a part-owner, and arrived on Kangaroo Island on 6 November 1836.
Being profoundly deaf, Henry’s parents wanted him to get an education just the same. When he was nine years old they sent him back to England, and he attended the Old Kent Road School for the Deaf for six years. When he finished school, he came back to South Australia and worked in different jobs. One of his jobs was working on the family properties. There is a family story that Henry went on a trip to the country near what is now Broken Hill, and he brought back some strange-looking rocks. His father said, “We’re farmers, not miners!” and threw the rocks away.
Henry married Martha Pike, who was born in 1844 and was probably the first white Deaf person born in South Australia. Henry helped to begin a school for the Deaf in South Australia, although he did not teach there himself. He became very well known in the Deaf community.
Henry and Martha had several children, and over the years their family has had many more Deaf people, as well as hearing people. Henry’s great-grandson (also called John Hallett) still works as an interpreter for the Royal South Australian Deaf Society.