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William Foxton Hayley (1814–1878)

from Australian Town and Country Journal

William Hayley, by Batchelder & O'Neill photographers, c1864

William Hayley, by Batchelder & O'Neill photographers, c1864

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24219383

No event has ever cast a greater gloom over the town and district of Goulburn than the death of Dr. William Foxton Hayley last Saturday. He was universally esteemed for his sterling qualities as a man and his skill as a physician; and his cheery voice and pleasant smile will be missed by a circle of acquaintances that embraces the whole population of Goulburn. Dr. William Foxton Hayley obtained his diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons, London, in 1835, when he was twenty-one years of age, and also secured the diploma of the Apothecaries Hall in the same year. The best testimony to the success of his career as a student, is afforded by the fact that he was presented with a piece of plate by the governors and professional staff of the Middlesex Lying-in Dispensary, before leaving London. In the following year he came out to this colony, and settled at Queanbeyan, notwithstanding very advantageous offer made to him at Goulburn. For thirty-two years he practised at Queanbeyan, respected by all who came in contact with him. In 1868 he removed to Goulburn, and has ever since commanded a large practice. He was staff-surgeon of the Western Battalion Volunteer Rifles, medical officer of the Oddfellows' lodges, and a Justice of the Peace. He was married forty years ago to Miss Elizabeth Davis, who survives him, and by whom he had a large family.

On Saturday week Dr. Hayley gave a picnic to a number of his friends and their children at Tirranna, and threw himself with almost boyish energy into the sports of the youngsters, and was seen throwing apples and oranges to be scrambled for, till he was fairly exhausted. Overheated by this sport, he received a chill in the drive home, and next day was prostrated with cold. On the Monday he rose from his bed to attend an accouchement; he spent five hours over this case, and then was summoned by the wife of an Oddfellow in similar circumstances. His friends remonstrated with him, but he would go, and said he would "die in harness." He had attended those well able to remunerate him, and he would not neglect his poorer patient. Perhaps the most striking testimony to his skill in this branch of surgery was given by an old lady, who exclaimed, on hearing of his death—"God help the women of Goulburn!" He returned from these professional duties with a severe attack of congestion of the lungs, and all the efforts of Drs. Gentle and Davidson were unavailing. On Saturday morning he breathed his last, after making the most thoughtful arrangements of his affairs.

As soon as the news spread through the town, the half shutters were put up on every shop, and were not taken down till after the funeral on Monday. Touching references were made on Sunday in the principal churches to the sad event, and on Monday Goulburn witnessed such a funeral as has never been known in the town before. Shortly after 2 o'clock, a crowd of persons numbering upwards of 2000 persons, dressed in black, assembled in Auburn-street in front of the deceased gentleman's house. The doctor having been a Freemason, that fraternity took a prominent part in the proceedings. The Masons met at the lodge, and, after the usual rites, proceeded to take charge of the body at the residence of the deceased. There they formed inner and outer column, allowing officers of the lodge to proceed up the middle, the Master, Mr. Deacon, of the Bank of New South Wales, being behind; and the Bible, on a pillow draped in crape, being carried by Past Master G. W. Cropper. The doors being closed, using inner guard and a tyler, Masonic rites were proceeded with. The coffin was removed to the hearse by Masons, who subsequently preceded the hearse.

The following was the order of procession:
Goulburn Corps,
Volunteer Rifles (with-rifles reversed)
under command of Captain Dignam,
The Concordia Band,
The Oddfellows' Band,
The City Band,
each alternately playing the "Dead March in Saul,"
The Three Local Orders of Oddfellows,
The Protestant Alliance Society,
The Freemasons,
The Bishop's (Dr. Thomas's) Carriage,
Archdeacon Puddicombe's Carriage,
Mourners on Foot,
Public on Foot,
Late Dr. Hayley's Empty Buggy—Horse led,
Hon. James Chisholm's Carriage,
The Police Magistrate's Carriage,
About 50 Vehicles,

The pall-bearers were R. G. Joplin, Esq., C. S. Alexander, Esq., S. Belcher, Esq., John Davidson, Esq., S. M. M. Denis, Esq., and the chief mourners were the sons of the deceased, and Messrs. William Davis, Fred Davis, Henry Davis, and — Freestone, of Young. Opposite St. Saviour's pro-Cathedral, Bourke-street, the volunteers formed line, allowing the Masons to pass through. The line being thus broken, the Masons formed line on either side of the Cathedral door, where Bishop Thomas and Archdeacon Puddicombe awaited the coffin. Psalms and a hymn were sung, and the chapter of Corinthians was read by the Bishop. The officers of the lodge went through the same order as at the residence, in entering and in leaving the church. The procession then proceeded slowly to the cemetery, a distance of two miles. The Mason's formed a circle round the grave, and after the service according to the rites of the Church of England, was performed by the Bishop and the Archdeacon, they read their own lengthy and impressive prayer, and cast into the grave sprigs of accacia. The volunteers fired three volleys over the grave of their departed comrade, and the large concourse of mourners made their way back to the town.

Original publication

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Citation details

'Hayley, William Foxton (1814–1878)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 17 July 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

William Hayley, by Batchelder & O'Neill photographers, c1864

William Hayley, by Batchelder & O'Neill photographers, c1864

National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an24219383

Life Summary [details]




7 September, 1878 (aged ~ 64)
Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death


Cultural Heritage

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