William Dry was born at Launceston on May 5, 1820 to Richard Dry senior and Ann Maugham and received his early education at Reverend John Mackersey's school near Campbell Town along with his elder brother Richard.
William was sent to England for further education, eventually graduating from Cambridge University.
He married Beatrice Young in Edinburgh, Scotland in March 1842.
She ultimately survived her husband, but there was no family.
He was ordained deacon in 1843 by the Bishop of London, and for a time he served as assistant curate of Camden Town, London.
On his return to the colony in 1844 his first appointment was as locum tenens to the Rev. Philip Palmer, rural dean and chaplain of Trinity Church, Hobart, during the latter's absence in England.
He was made a priest in 1845 by the Bishop of Tasmania, Francis Russell Nixon.
His next appointment was as chaplain of Oatlands where he officiated for three years, from the end of 1846 until the end of 1849.
While there he was responsible for finishing the building of St Peter's Church.
He returned to England in February 1850 and was appointed by the Archbishop as curate in charge of Minster-in-Sheppey and later Sutton-Valence, Kent, in the diocese of Canterbury.
Back in Tasmania by 1857, William's next appointment was at Longford from October 1858, where he remained until 1860 when he was compelled to resign the pastorate due to ill-health.
During this time Rev. and Mrs Dry's new Gothic-style house, designed by architect William Henry Clayton, was constructed on the Elphin Estate which had been left to him by his father.
However, in March 1862 he sold the stock and farming equipment, auctioned the furniture and effects, let the house and land, and once again sailed for England.
Rev. Dry took occasional duty, and gave help where it was needed, and at the inception of the Edinburgh Diocesan Association for the promotion of foreign missions, became the first secretary and treasurer.
When at last they returned from England in 1883, the Drys resided in Launceston for a couple of years, and then purchased Mount Esk at St Leonards, where they lived together for over 20 years.
Dry was a scholar, a preacher and very entertaining in conversation among those with whom he was best known.
Joseph Archer was one of his oldest personal friends, having been boys at school together.
He became a member of the Royal Society in 1862.
When William Dry died aged 88 on June 13, 1908, Mrs Dry, after 66 years of marriage was left practically alone, all her relatives being in England.
However, she remained at Mount Esk and died in 1916, aged 92, and was buried with her husband, the Reverend William Dry in the family vault at the Church of England Cemetery, Cypress Street.