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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Hosking, John (1806–1882)

by Vivienne Parsons

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

John Hosking (1806-1882), merchant and mayor, was born in London, the third son of John Hosking, master of a Methodist day school, and his wife Ann Elizabeth, née Mann. The Hosking family accepted an invitation by Rev. Samuel Marsden to take charge of the Orphan School in New South Wales, and Marsden secured an official appointment for John Hosking senior, who arrived in Sydney on 29 January 1809. During their stay in the colony the family took an active part in the Methodist Society and the New South Wales Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Benevolence, reorganized in 1818 as the Benevolent Society, but in July 1819 the Hoskings returned to England with their six children in the Surry, possibly because of a quarrel with Marsden. On his return to London, John Hosking senior continued the commercial activities he had begun in the colony; he died at Truro, Cornwall, on 13 September 1850, at the age of 76.

Two of Hosking's sons returned to the colony; John Hosking junior arrived in the Sir George Osborne in December 1825 and set up as a merchant in Sydney, having already received a land grant in June. On 16 June 1829 he married Martha Foxlowe, daughter of Samuel Terry. Peter Mann Hosking, a surgeon, arrived in the Sovereign in February 1831 and was appointed dispenser and visiting surgeon to the Sydney Dispensary. On 3 October 1832 he married Eliza, daughter of Reuben Uther; they had three sons and two daughters. Peter Mann Hosking died at Liverpool on 16 December 1858.

John Hosking junior first set up business at stores in Pitt Street, and later at Albion Wharf, Sussex Street. His father was the London agent for Eagar & Forbes and John became the partner of John Terry Hughes. The firm of Hughes & Hosking rose rapidly in prosperity; Hosking himself acquired considerable property in Sydney and large country holdings, including the Macquarie Fields estate, Gilimatong station in the Monaro district and Foxlowe estate on the Molonglo River. He was a member of the Southern Cattle Association and held stock both in the Bank of New South Wales and the Sydney Banking Co., of which he was a director in 1841. Like his father, Hosking took an active part in the Methodist Church and was also a shareholder in the Sydney College.

In November 1842 Hosking was a candidate in Sydney's first municipal elections, and was elected a councillor for Bourke Ward. When the council met he was elected an alderman and the first mayor of Sydney. In December 1842 he was appointed a magistrate. His political career was ended, however, when in the depression of 1843 Hughes & Hosking became insolvent and brought down with them the Bank of Australia, to which they owed more than £155,000. Hosking was forced to retire from the corporation and some of his property seems to have been sold. He died at Penrith on 9 September 1882. His wife Martha died on 30 June 1877 at Mount Pleasant, Penrith; they had three daughters.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of New South Wales, vol 7
  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 7, 11, 14, 23
  • Sydney Gazette, 19 Dec 1825
  • Australian, 2, 9, 11, 14 Nov, 30 Dec 1842
  • manuscript catalogue under John Hosking (State Library of New South Wales).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Vivienne Parsons, 'Hosking, John (1806–1882)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 1 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

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