• Full Name:
    James Seves Hosie
  • Role:
  • Occupation/s:
    Bootmaker, Baker, Hotelier, Turkish bath owner
  • State:
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:
[1831 - 1899] 


James Seves Hosie was born on 15 January, 1831 at Abbotshall, Fife, in Scotland, son of Robert Hosie and Isabella Seves.


At age 21, James decided to emigrate to Victoria, Australia. He arrived in Melbourne on 11 December 1852 aboard the Koh-i-noor. According to the shipping list, James was a bootmaker. In March 1855 James advertised for bootmakers to work in his shop at 29 Market Square, William Street. He stated that there was 'constant work'. By April 1856 his advertised location was 40 Bourke Street West, which was on the south side of the street.


By 1858 his boot and shoemaker shop was at 12 Bourke Street East on the south side, immediately to the West of where the Royal Arcade is now located. By 1860 his shop was at 10 Bourke Street East. He was also listed as operating 'Coffee and News Rooms' at 8 Bourke Street East.


Hosie-Confectioner 1865-s

 Hosie, Pastry Cook & Confectioner 1865

38 Bourke Street East

(Premises on right of image)

 From an 1865 engraving by Samuel Calvert

(State Library of Victoria)

Mr Hosie became famous for his Scotch pies. In fact, it was about the year 1860 that his wife, Elizabeth, first established this line of business. In the very small weatherboard building on Bourke Street East, Hosie carried on his business as a shoe salesman. In a small vacant space at the back of the shop Mrs Hosie set up a couple of tables and opened as 'The Scotch Pie Shop'. The Post Office directory for 1861 includes a listing for the 'Scotch Pie House, 10 Bourke Street East'. Her Scotch pies became popular and the shop was extended to the back, with more tables added. As a result of this success, Mr Hosie gave up the boot business and converted the entire shop. In 1863 is was listed as the 'Scotch Pie House, 12 Bourke Street East'.


Hosie-Confectioner 1865 Zoom
Hosie premises at 38 Bourke Street East

Enlargement from engraving by Samuel Calvert

In 1863 Hosie sold the business to another pastry cook and travelled to Scotland with his wife and daughter.  Prior to his departure, in April 1863, he tried to sell his cottage in Hanover Street, Fitzroy near the Carlton Gardens, which had been built specifically for his needs.  It was described as having a stable, coachhouse, hayloft, gas and bells throughout. He also sold his pigeons and watch dogs.


Apparently the Hanover Street property did not sell, as upon his return the house was advertised for letting.  His new addess was advertised as being in Lennox Street, the first door above Rowena Parade in Richmond.  This was on the West side of Lennox Street between Rowena Parade and Goodwood Street. 


He also re-established his business at 38 (later, number 36) Bourke Street East. This was on the South side, beside Union Way, now Union Lane. (This site is now occupied by David Jones.) Initially he was listed as a 'Confectioner', and later, 'Pastry cook and restaurant'. In the newspapers his shop was still called 'Hosie's Pie Shop'.


In 1867 his private residence was listed as being at Great Dandenong Road, Gardiner.  Here he owned 15 acres of land with 3 cottages, an orchard, vineyard and paddocks.  However, the property was put up for sale during 1867.  From 1868 his private residence was once again listed as being at Lennox Street, Richmond. 


In fact, over time, Mr Hosie came to own many properties in Richmond:  4 x 3-roomed brick cottages in Rogers Place;  7 houses in Rowena Parade;  1 brick house in Rowena Street;  land in Richmond Terrace;  and land in Lennox Street.  1871 was the peak period of his land ownership in Richmond.  After this he gradually sold off his holdings.  In 1872 James' listing in the Post Office directory was recorded as a 'land and estate agent' at 114 Elizabeth Street.  This matches the period when he was speculating in land in Richmond.  The Richmond Rate Records show his occupation as being a 'gentleman'.


For many years he was a member of the Richmond Council, and occupied the position  of mayor for a term in 1869/70.


On 8 March 1870 James' daughter, Isabella, married George Williamson Bruce at the Hosie home in Lennox Street.


However by 1873 he had returned to his previous business at Bourke Street East.


From a booklet produced by J S Hosie

for the guidance of bathers - circa 1874

(From the State Library of Victoria)

[Note that the address is incorrect, it

should be Number 24 Bourke St. East]


On 23 October 1873 James Hosie's 'Turkish Bathing Palace' was opened by the Governor. It was located in Bourke Street East, immediately to the east of Craig's Lane, which is now called The Causeway. (The original building has been demolished and the ANZ bank now occupies the site.) The Bathing Palace had 3 floors - the ground floor contained ordinary warm baths; the next floor contained the Turkish baths for gentlemen; the upper floor contained the Turkish baths for ladies. According to the advertisements of the time, which were aimed at the medical profession as well as the general public, the baths had been 'carefully constructed, regardless of expense.' 'The fittings and furnishings are on a scale of magnificence and comfort unrivalled in the colonies, and equal to the home [meaning English] or Eastern establishments.'


HosiesBourkeSt-1880 labelled
 Bourke Street, Melbourne c 1880 (looking West)

(Photograph by Charles Nettleton, from State Library of Victoria)


In April 1875 the 'Baths Hotel', also owned by Hosie, was opened for business. It was located next to the Bathing Palace in Bourke Street. (This is now occupied by the 'Sussan' women's fashion store, which is next to The Walk.)  In the same year he transferred the hotel licence to his wife.


The Royal Arcade, which had been built in 1869/1870 already had a Turkish bath establishment at shop 27, on the south end of the Arcade facing Little Collins Street. By 1875 Hosie had also taken over these baths. (He closed his Arcade Branch in 1877.) Hosie's Restaurant and Pie Shop was still listed, with the addition of the name of George Bruce, James' son-in-law. Presumably Mr Bruce was manager of the shop at that time.


According to newspaper reports, around 1875 Hosie purchased 'Oak Park Farm' near Ringwood.  His 410 acres were actually located on Bayswater Road, North Bayswater.  Initially he established a model dairy and large orchard.  Firewood, fruit and other produce were carted to Melbourne in drays twice a week for use in his restaurant.  His pigs were fed with waste returned from the restaurant to the farm.  It was reported that he sold 400 pigs per year, and that he bred horses. (Later subdivision of the farm included streets named 'James Hosie Court' and 'Hosie Street'.)


In November 1876 Hosie expanded his business activities yet again, opening his Grand Cafe and Lounge, Billiard Saloon and Palace Bar. It was located upstairs at the Victoria Arcade in Bourke Street East, the location which housed the Academy of Music. In 1879 he added to his list of ventures a wine and spirit store, located in Union Lane, Melbourne.

 Hosie-BathsHotel Labelled

 Bourke Street, Melbourne c 1900 - 1910 (looking East)

(Photograph by Clifford Williams, from State Library of Victoria)



In 1877 Hosie's private residence was in Hawthorn. The property of 5 acres was on the East side of Auburn Road, between Harcourt and Rathmines Road. The land was put up for sale in 1880, along with the Baths Hotel and the Bathing Palace.


By 1884 Hosie had divested himself of most of his businesses, only retaining his confectionary and restaurant at 36 Bourke Street East. His residence was at Queen's Terrace, South Melbourne, beside the Cricket Ground.


In 1885 he purchased the building on the north-west corner of Elizabeth and Flinders Streets. Initially land auctions were held there, but in October 1886 Hosie's Hotel and Cafe was opened. Although he sold the Hotel in 1887, it continued to be called Hosie's Hotel until the old hotel was demolished in 1953. 'Hosie's Tavern' is a reminder of this heritage.


After having retired from business, he fell upon hard times with the collapse of the land boom in the early 1890s.  As a result, by 1892 Mr Hosie had resumed business again and was running the Reform Hotel, located on the northern side of Little Collins Street, very near the locations of his previous businesses.  He was also involved with land speculation in a venture called the 'Altona Bay Estate'.


Hosie's Hotel - Corner Elizabeth & Flinders Streets, Melbourne c 1934

(Photograph by J.K. Moir, from State Library of Victoria)


His wife, Elizabeth, died at their South Melbourne residence in 1895.


By 1898 he was living at 5 Porter Street, Prahran, where he died on 31 March, 1899.  Dr Seelenmeyer was his attending physician.  At the time of his death he had been treated by the homœopathic doctors Dr Seelenmeyer and Dr Ray, with medicines supplied by Martin & Pleasance homœopathic chemist.


It was only after his death that the general public was made aware of the fact that he had been an anonymous benefactor for Melbourne's Homœopathic Hospital.


According to the Honorary Treasurer of the Hospital, Mr Crespin:


In 1889, having derived special benefits from homœopathic treatment under the late Dr Günst, he desired to mark special recognition of his marvellous cure, and requested me to authorise the construction of the southern wing to the Homœopathic Hospital, the stipulation being that the donor's name should remain a profound secret. This secret has been known only to architect, solicitor, and myself.


During the week before Mr Hosie's death, Mr Crespin obtained his consent to make this donation known. Mr Hosie donated the entire amount of money to build the second (southern) wing of the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital, to the sum of £8,041. When the structure had been completed, he then furnished and fitted it for occupation, solely at his own expense.


Eventually a memorial tablet was placed at the entrance to the hospital, "in grateful remembrance of James S. Hosie Esq.".


©  Barbara Armstrong



  • Created:
    Tuesday, 22 March 2011
  • Last modified:
    Wednesday, 02 March 2016