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REVEREND FRANCIS HALES, HEIDELBERG NEAR MELBOURNE, PORT PHILIP

This fine cover had a price tag at auction of AUD 4,000 and was sent to the Rev. Francis Hales (1822-90) on May 8, 1850. It was described as a "Cover from Port Macquarie to Heidleberg (sic) Melbourne Port Phillip with 2d grey-blue (Sydney) View SG 23 tied by barred numeral '80' and oval crown Port Macquarie /(MA 8)/ 1850 /(NEW. S. WALES), backstamped Sydney cds & Melbourne Port Philip oval cancel, (with a) Halcombe Certificate 9588/99" (Figure 1).

The Port Macquarie oval postmark is described by John S. White (1988) in the "Postal History of New South Wales 1788-1901" on page 115 as Type C62 (dates in use from 6.4.1839 to 26.7.1852), and is a clearer example (Figure 2).

Francis Hales was born in County Limerick, Ireland, the 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 1832 leaving an estate in Hobart of £144. Francis returned to Britain with his mother and they lived with a guardian on the Isle of Man. In 1842 Francis entered Trinity College, Dublin and graduated in1846 as a bachelor of Arts. He became a curate at Castlebar, made a deacon, and in 1847 was priested by the Bishop of Tuam.

Hales and his young wife Ann Augusta, née Stoney, sailed in the 'Stag' with Bishop Perry's party and arrived in Melbourne in January 1848. He was sent on a missionary tour of scattered settlements in Gippsland and he returned after four months to take over the large parish of Heidelberg. He was described as 'earnest, sensitive and spiritual' and was almost over-zealous in his duties. He first preached on alternate Sundays at the Presbyterian Chapel, but soon raised funds for building the St. John's Church of England in Heidelberg which opened on 26 October 1851 (Figure 3).

At other centres in the parish he was less successful, becoming temperamental and tactless. Under pressure from the bishop in 1853, he resigned and with his wife and four children he sailed in the Clarence and arrived at Launceston in November as chaplain of the Trinity parish, as locum to the Rev. John Yorker. When the latter resigned, Hales was appointed rector of Trinity and chaplain at the gaol, in February 1856. In his long years at Trinity, Hales served under four bishops, Nixon, Bromby, Sandford and Montgomery. 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 the General Synod in 1876, 1881 and 1888 and administered the diocese in 1882-83 and again in1888-89.

He was an initiator of many public movements for he opposed lotteries, capital punishment and governmental interference with church affairs. He advocated a Hobart College affiliated with the Universities of Melbourne and Sydney in 1889, and when the University of Tasmania was created in 1890, he became a member of its Senate and was its warden in 1896-1900. Aged 78, he died at his home in Launceston on 9 July 1900, predeceased by his wife and survived by six of his children. His obituary was recorded in the Launceston Examiner, 11 July 1900, from which his picture is taken (Figure 4).

Data in the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4, p. 319-20 provided most of the information for this paper.

Addendum (Nov. 2007):   Another cover with the drab 2d "Half Length" postmarked with the barred oval '19' of The Grange (later Hamilton) sent to Rev. Francis Hales at The Parsonage, Heidelberg on 7 May 1853 (Figure 5).


 
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