Frederick Arthur Hurley, son of Frederick T. Hurley and his wife Rowena C. Hurley, born Hutchings, was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and at the Royal Indian Engineering College at Cooper's Hill, west of London, where he qualified in 1896. From 1897 to 1904 he worked for the Egyptian Public Works Department, initially on irrigation in Lower Egypt (1897-1899), then as inspector-general for Lower Egypt attached to the director of reservoirs (1899-1901), as resident engineer at the Zifta Barrage in the Nile Delta (1901-1903), and again as inspector-general for Lower Egypt (1903-1904). He was an associate member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers. A paper by him on "The Zifta barrage and subsidiary works" was published in the institute's Minutes of Proceedings in 1904. After completion of the barrage he received the Order of Medjidie - a military and knightly order of the Ottoman Empire awarded for outstanding services by foreign nationals.
In July 1904 Hurley was appointed executive engineer in the Department of Irrigation and Water Supply of the Transvaal Colony (under W.L. Strange*) and promoted to chief engineer in August 1907. His work included the identification of possible sites for new irrigation schemes and led to two significant reports: Report on the reconnaissance of the Vaal River... (1905), and Report on the reconnaissance of the Great Olifants River basin... (1907), both of which contained a preliminary proposal for the best irrigation scheme along each river. He also wrote two articles for the Transvaal Agricultural Journal (1908-1909, Vol. 7), one on "Measurement of water in streams and furrows", the other on "The economical use of water for irrigation". At the First South African Irrigation Congress in May 1909 he delivered a paper on "Irrigation in the Transvaal", which was published in the Proceedings (Cape of Good Hope, 1909).
By 1910 Hurley was a member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science and in October that year delivered a paper on "Irrigation in Egypt and South Africa" at its annual congress in Cape Town. The paper was published in the association's Report for 1910 (pp. 440-453). By 1913 he was a member also of the South African Society of Civil Engineers.
After the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, Hurley was appointed assistant director of irrigation (acting from September 1910, confirmed in June 1912) under F.E. Kanthack*. During Kanthack's absence in 1914 he was acting director of irrigation, but died in a motor accident later that year. He was a master Mason (that is, a fully qualified Freemason) in the United Service Lodge, Pretoria, and was not married.