Hickey, William (1787/8–1875), clergyman and agricultural writer, was born at Murragh, Co. Cork, eldest son of the Rev. Ambrose Hickey, DD, rector. He entered TCD (1804) and then moved to St John's College, Cambridge (1806), where his father was also admitted in the same year. He graduated BA from both Cambridge and Dublin in 1809 and MA (Dublin) in 1832. Ordained in 1811, he took the curacy of Dunleckny, Co Carlow, in the diocese of Leighlin. Two years later (1813) he married Henrietta Maria, daughter of John Steuart of Steuart's Lodge, Co. Carlow. In 1820 he became vicar of Bannow in the diocese of Ferns, where he remained until his appointment as rector of Kilcormick in 1826. Here he built a church and schoolhouse, and initiated local works which improved the roads and bridges of the area. He moved to be rector of Wexford in 1831, and finally to the union of Mulrankin. His religious career was notable for philanthropy and tolerance.
His concern for the poor informed the other great interest in his life, farming; and he studied methods to improve the lot of small farmers. While at Bannow he had founded an agricultural school on a farm of forty acres with Thomas Boyce, with whom he also founded the South Wexford agricultural society, the first such organisation in the country. He wrote a pamphlet, State of the poor in Ireland (1817), and several further pamphlets under the pseudonym ‘Martin Doyle’, attempting to improve the relationship between landlord and tenant, including An address to the landlords of Ireland (1831) and The labouring classes in Ireland (1846). He edited the Irish Farmers' and Gardeners' Magazine (1834–42) and was a regular writer to provincial and national newspapers; a series of these letters to the Wexford Herald was later published as Hints to small farmers (1830). His numerous other books on agriculture included The flower garden (1834), A cyclopaedia of practical husbandry (1839), Farm and garden produce (1857), and Cottage farming (1870). He translated from French a selection of sermons of Adolphe Monod and also wrote books on education.
Awarded their gold medal by the RDS (of which he was a member) for services to Ireland, he also received a pension from the Royal Literary Fund for his work in agriculture. He contributed prose and verse to the Dublin Penny Journal before dying in relative poverty, 24 October 1875.