Australian Dictionary of Biography

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William Hopley (?–1815)

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William Hopley (d.1815), surgeon, joined the navy and as surgeon's mate served in H.M.S. Stag from April 1795 to February 1800, and then in the Forester and the Insolent until the peace of Amiens. In 1801 he married Judith Elizabeth, the eldest daughter of Lieutenant William Hobbs, R.N., who was killed on active service.

Hopley was appointed second assistant surgeon in New South Wales, and with his wife and daughter sailed in the Calcutta with Lieutenant-Governor David Collins's expedition to Port Phillip Bay. At his own expense Hopley also brought out his widowed mother-in-law and her children. In 1804 he moved to Hobart Town, where he leased two acres (0.8 ha) and lived under canvas for three months encumbered by his large family. In 1807 he was suspended from duty by Collins, but after reprimand was reinstated by Governor William Bligh. Hopley continued as second assistant surgeon until September 1808, when because of ill health he sought to return to England. He went to Sydney, but the government would not provide passages for his large family and he could not pay their fares. After eighteen months leave on half-pay his health had not improved, but he applied for the position of first assistant surgeon at Port Dalrymple. When this was refused he returned to duty at Hobart and asked for a land grant, intending to become a settler because his salary of 7s. 6d. a day was too small to support his family. He was promised 300 acres (121 ha) but did not receive it, so he leased Hangan's farm at Government House Point. After Matthew Bowden died in October 1814, Governor Lachlan Macquarie promoted Hopley principal surgeon at the Derwent at twice the salary he had formerly received. He died on 24 August 1815 and was buried in St David's cemetery, Hobart. He was survived by his wife and by a daughter and two sons who had to be admitted to the orphan institution. Three of his sisters-in-law married officers at the Derwent.

Select Bibliography

  • Historical Records of Australia, series 1, vols 7-9, series 3, vols 1-3
  • Critic (Hobart), 13 Jan 1922
  • manuscript catalogue under William Hopley (State Library of New South Wales)
  • CO 201/52.

Citation details

'Hopley, William (?–1815)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1966, accessed online 25 May 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]


24 August, 1815
Tasmania, Australia

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