Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Peter Facy (1822–1890)

by Peter Bolger

This article was published:

Peter Facy (1822-1890), entrepreneur and temperance worker, was born on 6 October 1822 at Ashburton, Devon, England, son of Peter Facy, woolstapler, and his wife Mary. He arrived with his parents at Hobart Town on 23 January 1825 in the steerage of the Cumberland. Peter Facy senior began business as a tanner and fellmonger and profited as one of the colony's first wool exporters; his partners included William Kermode and Henry Hopkins. He died on 15 June 1832 survived by his widow, two daughters and three sons, Joseph, John and Peter. The sons maintained the business until 1848 when, with the realized capital from its sale, Peter and Joseph went to England.

Peter Facy junior returned to Hobart in the Jane Frances in 1849 and entered business with Captain William Fisher as shipowner, sawmill proprietor and timber merchant engaged mostly in intercolonial trade. He was a shareholder in and later senior director of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co., the most successful of the shipping companies expanded in the gold rushes. He became president of the Hobart Mutual Building Society and a director of the Bank of Van Diemen's Land in which his family held many shares. Facy retained a lifelong interest in the shipping of Hobart, owning the barques Kassa, Wild Wave and Pet, the barquentine Guiding Star, the steamship Pinafore, and the trading ketches Hero, Priscilla and Huon Chief. He became the local expert on lighthouses, a warden of the Hobart Marine Board and a member of the Consolidated Board which administered Tasmania's lights. Facy personally promoted the building of the system of lights on the Mersey and particularly the lighthouse on the Mersey Bluff at Devonport.

In 1846 Facy helped George Washington Walker and James Bonwick to found the Van Diemen's Land Total Abstinence Society. He was treasurer of the Tasmanian Temperance Alliance for thirty years and in 1869-90 edited the temperance monthly, People's Friend. He was one of the first in Hobart to join the Rechabites and was treasurer for the Southern Cross District in 1858-70. When the Good Templar movement reached Tasmania from America in 1874, Facy and his partner Fisher joined the new Haste to the Rescue Lodge and Facy became its grand treasurer. He was a member of the Congregational Church, a committee member of the Bible Society and a justice of the peace from 1883. He was also an enthusiastic cricketer, a committee member of the Glee Club and an exhibiting member of the Amateurs, Gardeners and Cottagers Horticultural Society. Quiet and unpretentious, he worked to achieve what he conceived to be good ends in many diverse fields and found deep satisfaction in involvement with local affairs. He died on 5 February 1890 at his home in Hampden Road unaware that both the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co. and the Bank of Van Diemen's Land, the piers of his world, would soon cease to exist. He was interred in the Congregational burial ground at New Town and a memorial in the Melville Street Temperance Hall recalls his role as treasurer to its building fund.

On 5 September 1850 Facy married Elizabeth, the second daughter of James Vautin of the Imperial Audit Department. One of their two sons, also Peter, became secretary of the Tasmanian Steam Navigation Co. and an active licensing law reformer.

Select Bibliography

  • Hobart Town Courier, 15 June 1832
  • Mercury (Hobart), 6 Feb 1890
  • People's Friend, Feb, Mar 1890.

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Peter Bolger, 'Facy, Peter (1822–1890)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 18 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, (Melbourne University Press), 1972

View the front pages for Volume 4

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Peter Facy (1822-1890), by unknown photographer

Peter Facy (1822-1890), by unknown photographer

Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, State Library of Tasmania, AUTAS001125645440

Life Summary [details]


6 October, 1822
Ashburton, Devon, England


5 February, 1890 (aged 67)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia

Cause of Death

heart disease

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