Halloran (O'Halloran), Laurence Hynes (1765–1831), schoolmaster, clergyman, writer, and forger, was born 29 December 1765 in Co. Meath. Orphaned while still a young child, he was raised by his uncle, Judge William Gregory, before attending Westminster School. In 1785 he opened a grammar school at Alphington, near Exeter, Devon, and, hoping to improve his chances of employment, took holy orders in 1790. He joined the Royal Navy as a chaplain in 1804 and was present at the battle of Trafalgar (1805), serving aboard HMS Britannia, flagship of Adm. the earl of Northesk. In 1807 he was posted as chaplain to the naval and military forces at the Cape of Good Hope and, soon after his arrival in the colony, secured the position of rector at the local grammar school. For the next few years he prospered, enjoying the income supplied by these two positions. In 1810, however, he became involved in the defence of two officers who had been charged with duelling. Lt-gen. H. G. Grey, commanding the colony's forces, did not appreciate Halloran's involvement in the court martial, and ordered that he should remove himself to Simonstown. Halloran refused to do so and, resigning his chaplain's position (June 1810), published his version of events in a satirical work, Cap-abilities, or South African characteristics (1811). This publication resulted in Grey prosecuting for defamatory libel; when found guilty, Halloran had to pay costs and a fine and was banished from the Cape colony. Returning to England (1811), he travelled the country endeavouring to secure a position as a curate or schoolmaster, often using for the purpose forged certificates of qualification and letters of introduction. On one occasion, he was working as a curate at Bath, and referring to himself as a ‘doctor of divinity’. However, the local rector, the Rev. Richard Warner, checked his credentials and found them to be false. In October 1818 he was charged at the Old Bailey with counterfeiting a tenpenny frank. He pleaded guilty, maintaining that the only man who could clear his name was dead; he was sentenced to seven years' transportation to Australia.
On arrival in Sydney (June 1819) he opened a private school and gained a reputation as a gifted, if somewhat eccentric, teacher. It would seem that Halloran had a well developed persecution complex, however, and he continued his habit of publishing supposedly satirical, but more often libellous, pamphlets aimed at people whom he perceived as enemies. A series of libel suits followed which ruined him financially, forcing him to keep relocating his school business in an effort to keep ahead of his creditors. There were periods when he was imprisoned for debt, and his schemes for raising money became increasingly desperate. By November 1825 he had obtained enough financial backing to open a new project, the Sydney Free Public Grammar School. However, in October 1826 the trustees suspended the operation of the school, owing to Halloran's unsatisfactory behaviour, and in the following month he was imprisoned yet again for debt.
He reopened his private school in January 1827. In April he began publishing a journal, the Gleaner, but after a number of libel cases it ceased publication in September 1827. Nonetheless, Governor Darling secured the position of coroner for him in 1828, but had him dismissed two years later when Halloran announced that he was about to publish a defamation of Archdeacon T. H. Scott, president of the Church and School Corporation. He died in Sydney, 8 March 1831.
During his early career Halloran displayed considerable literary talent and published several collections of poetry and prose, including Odes, poems, and translations (1790), Poems on various occasions (1791), Lacrymae Hibernicae, or the genius of Erin's complaint, a ballad (1801), The female volunteer (1801), and The battle of Trafalgar, a poem (1806). Some of his works were published under the pseudonym of ‘Philo-nauticus’. He also occasionally went by the name of Laurence O'Halloran or Laurence Hynes.
He married twice. His first wife, Lydia Anne Hall, died in October 1823 after the birth of their twelfth child. In August 1824 he married Elizabeth Turnbull and had several more children. His son Henry Halloran (1811–93) enjoyed some fame as a poet.