Born in 1843 into the landed gentry Hoyle family of Hooten Levett, Yorkshire, John Walker Hoyle was the seventh child of William Fretwell Hoyle and his second wife, Jane Grave Walker. Like some of his other brothers, John left home and England at an early age. He spent time in Fiji before arriving in Australia sometime in the mid-1870s. As a surveyor, he worked for the railways in both New South Wales and Tasmania, after which he became a local government employee in Yea, Victoria. His last years were spent in a lodging house in Sydney where he died in 1897.
Two recurring themes characterise his life – lack of money and, more poignantly, the sense that he had been ‘forgotten’ by his family in England.