Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Cultural Advice

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website contains names, images, and voices of deceased persons.

In addition, some articles contain terms or views that were acceptable within mainstream Australian culture in the period in which they were written, but may no longer be considered appropriate.

These articles do not necessarily reflect the views of The Australian National University.

Older articles are being reviewed with a view to bringing them into line with contemporary values but the original text will remain available for historical context.

Francis Hales (1822–1900)

This article was published:

Francis Hales (1822-1900), Anglican clergyman, was born in County Limerick, Ireland, son of Francis Hales, quartermaster in the 40th Regiment, and his wife Catherine. He went with his parents to Sydney in 1826, Hobart Town in 1827 and Bombay in 1829. His father died in January 1832, leaving an estate in Hobart valued at £144. Francis returned to Britain with his mother; they lived with his guardian, Henry Roche, on the Isle of Man. In 1842 Hales entered Trinity College, Dublin (B.A., 1846), became curate at Castlebar, and was made deacon and in 1847 priested by the bishop of Tuam.

Hales and his young wife Ann Augusta, née Stoney, sailed in the Stag with Bishop Charles Perry's party and arrived at Melbourne in January 1848. Sent on a missionary tour of scattered settlements in Gippsland, Hales returned after four months to take over the large parish of Heidelberg. 'Earnest, sensitive and spiritual', he was almost over-zealous in his duties. At first he preached on alternate Sundays in the Presbyterian Chapel, but soon raised funds for building St John's Church which was opened on 26 October 1851. At other centres in the parish he was less successful and became temperamental and tactless. After a row with his trustees over the site for a vicarage he moved his family into part of the church, but under pressure from the bishop resigned in 1853. His parishioners gave him 350 sovereigns and bought his 'few sticks of furniture for fabulous prices'. With his wife and four children he sailed in the Clarence and arrived at Launceston in November as chaplain of Trinity parish. The incumbent, Rev. John Yorker, who was also chaplain of the gaol with a government salary of £200, left in December on sick leave, privately agreeing to pay £150 of his salary to Hales as his locum. Despite many protests, the colonial secretary insisted that Hales was entitled to only half the salary. In February 1856 Yorker resigned and Hales was appointed rector of Trinity and gaol chaplain with the full salary. Later the colonial secretary found that Yorker had drawn only £50 each year and Hales was given the balance. He had more arguments with the government in 1867 when the gaol appointment terminated and as a public servant he was superannuated at £18 a year.

In his long years at Trinity Hales served under four bishops: Francis Nixon in 1854-62, Charles Bromby in 1864-82, Daniel Sandford in 1883-89 and Henry Montgomery in 1889-1900. He became one of the first canons of St David's Cathedral, Hobart, in 1872, and archdeacon of Northern Tasmania in 1877; he represented Tasmania at General Synod in 1876, 1881 and 1888 and administered the diocese in 1882-83 and 1888-89. His grasp of financial matters and acquaintance with every church property in his archdeaconry were immensely valued by synod. He was also a successful organizer of fund appeals for missions and church building, not least for replacing his old church by the new Holy Trinity in 1898. His preaching was expository and clear, though he preferred 'a feast of reason and flow of soul' with friends in his study. He was an initiator of many public movements and opposed lotteries, capital punishment and government interference with church affairs. Although he had supported a 'university scheme' for Tasmania in 1857, he advocated 'a Hobart College affiliated with the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney' in 1889; after the University of Tasmania was created in 1890 he became a member of senate and was its warden in 1896-1900. At least six of his sermons were published, including a dissertation against marriage with a deceased wife's sister. For years he had suffered from asthma but found 'the trip across Bass Strait a perfect cure'; for this reason he often sought leave to visit Victoria and in 1889 took three months' leave in New Zealand. Perhaps the highlight of his career was on 14 July 1896 when as a patriarchal figure he presided over a large audience of Protestants and Catholics at the jubilee of his ordination. Aged 78 he died at his home in Launceston on 9 July 1900, predeceased by his wife and survived by at least six of their nine children.

Select Bibliography

  • Cyclopedia of Tasmania, vol 2 (Hob, 1900)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Tasmania), 1889 (145)
  • Church News (Hobart), 1 Aug 1896, 1 Aug 1900
  • Examiner (Launceston), 11 July 1900, CSO 5/175/4154, 24/241/9537 (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • GO 33/26/953 (Archives Office of Tasmania)
  • CSD 1/53/1031, 4/99/1121, 13/48/710 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

'Hales, Francis (1822–1900)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 23 May 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

Life Summary [details]


Limerick, Ireland


9 July, 1900 (aged ~ 78)
Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.

Religious Influence

Includes the religion in which subjects were raised, have chosen themselves, attendance at religious schools and/or religious funeral rites; Atheism and Agnosticism have been included.