• Full Name:
    Dr William Joseph Richard Ray
  • Role:
    Registered Practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Medical Practitioner
  • State:
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


[1849 - 1894]


Dr William Joseph Richard Ray was the son of Dr William Ray. He was also nephew of Dr Robert Ray, who had established a successful practice in Collins Street Melbourne and worked at the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital.


William Joseph was born at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, son of William Ray and Eleanor Thomas.


In 1851 he was living on the Enfield Highway, Enfield, Middlesex with his parents and his sister, Ann Elizabeth, aged 6 months. Ann Elizabeth was not mentioned in subsequent census records.


William Joseph obtained his medical qualifications in 1871. According to the 1871 English census 20 year old William was living 35 West Square in Southwark with his parents. In the column for 'Occupation', William Joseph was listed as a surgeon with the qualifications of M.R.C.S.E and L.S.A.


William Joseph arrived in Victoria in 1872, and became registered with the Medical Board of Victoria on 8 June 1872. He first advertised his practice in Ballarat on 10 June 1872. His advertisement stated that he was 'late House Surgeon Westminster Hospital' and that he could be consulted daily at the Homœopathic Dispensary (that is, the Ballarat pharmacy of Charles Pleasance), at 5 Sturt Street.


A year later William senior joined his son in Ballarat, becoming registered with the Medical Board of Victoria on 7 March 1873. It was soon after William senior's arrival that the idea of establishing a homœopathic dispensary in Ballarat was first proposed.

Initially Dr W. Ray was appointed honorary medical officer to the dispensary, and Dr W. J. R. Ray was appointed honorary surgeon and dispenser. However, an advertisement in the Bendigo Advertiser of 31 May 1873 shows that W.J.R. Ray had moved to Bendigo where he provided consultations daily at 12 Barnard Street, View Street.    


From 17 February 1874 William Joseph advertised that he had returned from Bendigo and that he had resumed practice in Ballarat. He could be consulted at 5 Sturt Street, which was the location of the homœopathic pharmacy. After Dr William Ray senior submitted his resignation from the Ballarat Free Homœopathic Dispensary in July 1874, his son was appointed honorary medical officer in his place. However, to-date I have found no evidence that he continued to provide services to the Dispensary.


At age 26, William married Ellen Ray (usually called 'Nellie') on 18 March 1875, just a few months prior to his father's death. It may be that this was his South Australian-born cousin, daughter of his uncle Robert Ray.


In July 1875 the Independent Order of Rechabites chose Dr W.J. Ray to be their homœopathic surgeon in place of Dr Ray senior, who had died on 5 June 1875.


The movements of William Joseph and his family can be traced via the birthplaces of his children, and his advertisements in the newspapers.


Their first son was born in March 1876 in Ballarat, while their first daughter was born in Launceston in May 1877. By October 1877 Dr W.J.R. Ray advertised that he was practising at Elizabeth Street, Launceston, Tasmania, opposite St John's Church. By June 1878 he was at Cameron Street, Launceston. Their second daughter was born at that address in July 1878. Their second son was born in May 1880 at Emu Bay, Tasmania.


In March 1881 the Ballarat Star advertised that Dr William J.R. Ray had resumed practice in Ballarat at his residence in Sturt Street, near the White Hart Hotel, which was near the corner of Sturt and Errard Streets. However, by October 1881 he had moved to Seymour in Victoria. Evidence for this is the Government Gazette announcement that he had been appointed the public vaccinator at Seymour. Their next four sons were born in Seymour.


The Medical Gazette of February 1891 published an article by Dr Ray titled 'Snakes and Strychnine'. It was widely published in the press.


William Joseph died at Beach Street, Mentone on 25 September 1894 and was buried at Cheltenham Cemetery. He was aged 45.


©   Barbara Armstrong      



  • Created:
    Saturday, 25 February 2017
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 28 June 2020