Henry Hutton was the son of Henry Hutton and his wife Elizabeth Sophia Hutton, born Beevor. He came to the Cape Colony in 1844, arriving at Port Elizabeth in August. Four years later he married Caroline Atherstone (see Caroline Hutton*) and they eventually had five sons and seven daughters. During the Frontier War of 1846 Henry was aide-de-camp to commandant-general Sir Andries Stockenstrom. After some time as clerk of the ordinance at Grahamstown (1847), and secretary to the Royal Engineers on the eastern frontier (1849), he served as volunteer with the 12th Foot to clear the Fish River Bush (1850). The next year he was a staff officer for the Albany Rangers during the invasion of the land of the Xhosa chieftain Kreli. Thereafter followed various appointments in the Cape civil service: superintendent (from 1858 chief superintendent) of convicts (October 1853), justice of the peace for Albany (1854), roads magistrate (1856), and visiting magistrate to the convict department from 1859 until his retirement at the end of 1862. He also appears to have been a part-time farmer. From 1864 to 1871 he served as secretary and treasurer of the Divisional Council of Bedford. Later he became inspector of native locations for Albany and Fort Beaufort (1877-1879) and then manager of Vooruitzigt estate and justice of the peace at Kimberley (1881-1889). In 1891 he lived on the farm Beaumont, Fish River Rand (some 30 km north of Grahamstown).
Henry and his wife collected plants at various localities in Albany district of the Eastern Cape and elsewhere. As early as 1859 their contributions were acknowledged by W.H. Harvey* in his Thesaurus Capensis (Vol. 1, p. 4), and the next year also in the Flora Capensis (Vol. 1, p. ix). In 1867 P. MacOwan* named Henry as one of five collectors who had thoroughly covered the Grahamstown district. Among others he discovered a plant belonging to a new genus of the family Liliaceae in the Katberg (north of Fort Beaufort), but Harvey named it Bowiea volubilis, after James Bowie*. Henry gave specimens to various visiting botanists and sent many plants and seeds to Kew Gardens in England between 1865 and 1872, but donated most of his collections to the herbarium of the Albany Museum, Grahamstown. Particularly large numbers of specimens were sent in during 1891 and 1895, those of the latter year including specimens he had collected on the Witwatersrand that year. Upon his death in January 1896 the museum's director, Dr Selmar Schonland*, acknowledged him as a good friend of the museum who had been collecting plants for 40 years.
Henry was a member of the Grahamstown Philomatic Society (a debating society) by 1849. He also joined the Literary, Scientific and Medical Society (Grahamstown, 1855) soon after its formation. And in 1859 he was a member of the committee of the Albany Agricultural Society. Later he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Three species were named in his honour: Anagallis huttonii (by Harvey), Brachystelma huttonii (by N.E. Brown*), and Cyrtanthus huttonii.