Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Frederick Augustus Hely (1794–1836)

by A. F. Pike

This article was published:

Frederick Augustus Hely (1794-1836), public servant and settler, was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, the son of Colonel Forbes Francis Hely. At 18 he married Georgina Lindsay Bucknell of Hollymount House. On 1 January 1823 he was appointed principal superintendent of convicts in New South Wales at a salary of £200. Later in the year he arrived in Sydney with his wife and three children in a convict transport and took up his post, which he held until his death. Hely also sat on several official inquiries and held many positions of public importance: he was a justice of the peace from 1825, president of the Board of Magistrates in 1826, acting superintendent of police in 1827, and a member of the Assignment Board in 1831. In all these positions he proved himself an able and efficient officer.

In 1824 Hely was granted 1340 acres (542 ha) at Narara, Brisbane Water, and there established a farm, Wyoming. He was the first to settle permanently in the district and to develop a citrus fruit orchard. In 1829 his property was increased to more than 4000 acres (1619 ha) by further grants in the parishes of Ourimbah and Tuggerah. The latter grant brought him into conflict with William Cape who had neglected to report his selections to the government but had cleared 100 acres (40 ha) and built a barn on the land before it was granted to Hely. For twenty years Cape bombarded the government with letters, although he had lost his case in the courts. Hely's farm was modestly successful and he joined the Agricultural Society; in 1834 he was a foundation director of the Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney. In August 1832 he applied for appointment as stipendiary magistrate at Brisbane Water, but he was offered instead a salary increase of £100 to induce him to remain superintendent of convicts, an office in which he was considered peculiarly capable. Because of ill health in 1836 he was recommended for retirement on a pension, but before it was approved by the Colonial Office he died of apoplexy on 8 September in Sydney. He was survived by his wife, three daughters and two sons, one of whom, Hovenden, went on Ludwig Leichhardt's second expedition.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 10-18
  • C. Swancott, The Brisbane Water Story, vol 4 (Woy Woy, 1955)
  • G. K. Mann papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • manuscript catalogue under F. A. Hely (State Library of New South Wales).

Citation details

A. F. Pike, 'Hely, Frederick Augustus (1794–1836)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (Melbourne University Press), 1966

View the front pages for Volume 1

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


Tyrone, Ireland


8 September, 1836 (aged ~ 42)
Sydney, New South Wales, 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.