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

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


[c. 1812 - 1875]


Dr William Ray was the father of Dr William Joseph Richard Ray. William senior was also the older brother of Dr Robert Ray, who had established a successful practice in Collins Street Melbourne and worked at the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital. William was 17 years older than Robert.


William was born around 1812 at Horsham, Sussex, a son of James Ray and Harriet Steere. According to the UK Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Soldier Service Records, from 1829 to 1835 he was Corporal Ray of the Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards.

According to the English census for 1841 he was at Hornsey, Middlesex, living with his wife, Eleanor. The census stated that he was a schoolmaster. Their first child, William Joseph Richard, was born in 1849 at Broxbourne, Hertfordshire. In 1851 He was living on the Enfield Highway, Enfield, Middlesex. He was still a schoolmaster, living with his wife and two children - William and Ann Elizabeth, aged 6 months. Ann Elizabeth was not mentioned in subsequent census records.


By the time of the 1861 census, William and brother Robert were both living at West Square, Southwark, but living in different houses. Both were medical students. Eleanor was listed as being a midwife.


William and brother Robert came late to their medical studies. Robert was the first to graduate in 1862 at around the age of 34. William graduated in 1864 at around the age of 53. Robert emigrated to Melbourne in 1862, while William remained in England. According to the 1866 edition of the London and Provincial Homœopathic Medical Directory, William was practising in Southwark. According to the 1871 English census 59 year old William was at 35 West Square in Southwark. At the same residence were two female servants (one aged 11 and the other aged 20), William's wife, and his 20 year old son, William Joseph. 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. The entry for William senior was 'Physician, R. C. of Surgeons, & Pennsylvania'. The inclusion of 'Pennsylvania' is interesting as he is not listed as a graduate of the homœopathic college at Pennsylvania. Therefore at this stage the meaning and import of this inclusion is unknown.


In 1873 William senior migrated to Australia and joined his son who had already moved to Ballarat in 1872. William was registered with the Medical Board of Victoria on 7 March 1873. The advertisement for his practice stated that he was a homœopathic physician, surgeon and accoucheur 'recently from London'.


It was soon after his arrival that the idea of establishing a free homœopathic dispensary in Ballarat was first proposed. It is possible that the dispensary was the inspiration and mission of William senior. The Ballarat Free Homœopathic Dispensary opened on 9 July 1873. Dr W. Ray was appointed honorary medical officer to the Dispensary and was the sole practitioner who provided consultations.


However, in July 1874 Dr William Ray submitted his resignation from the Dispensary. No reason was provided. His son returned to Ballarat and was appointed honorary medical officer in his place.


William's residence and practice was on the south side of Sturt Street, between Raglan Street South and Lyons Street. At that time it was numbered 175 Sturt Street, although the numbering system has altered many times since then. Advertisements of the time state that it was 'nearly opposite the Western Fire Brigade Station' and it was 'next but one to Raglan Street'.


Dr Ray's residence was put up for sale by auction at the beginning of June 1874, stating that it 'must be sold'. The property was described as being 'elegant and substantial'. A later advertisement in 1877 stated that it was 'handsome and commodious' .... 'built regardless of cost, and from a most elegant design, containing everything desired for a gentleman's town residence'. The Basement contained a kitchen, scullery, servants' room, and larder. The Ground Floor contained an entrance hall, drawing and dining room, connected by folding doors. The First Floor had three bedrooms and bath-room. There was a 'neat garden at the front, enclosed by handsome cast-iron palisades; convenient yard at rear'.


William senior died a year after his resignation from the Dispensary, on 5 June 1875. He was buried at the Ballarat Old Cemetery. At the time of his death he did not have a Will. However, probate documents show that he was in debt to his younger brother, Robert.


©   Barbara Armstrong      



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