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à Beckett, Arthur Martin (1812–1871)

Arthur Martin a'Beckett, F.R.C.S.—much appreciated in this community as a skilful medical practitioner, and equally respected as a private citizen—died at his residence at Ashfield, in the 59th year of his age, after a short and severe illness on Tuesday, the 29th ultimo. Mr a'Beckett (one of a family whose very name has been recognised as a passport to the possession of talent) was born at London, in June 1812 and like his brothers William, Gilbert, and Thomas, soon became distinguished by individual merit and personal ability. Having early manifested a taste for the medical profession, after the usual preliminary studies, he entered the London University in 1831 and there in the course of his academic career he obtained medals for proficiency in Botany and in Chemistry. He became a Licentiate of the Apothecaries Company in London in 1835, and subsequently perfected his knowledge of pharmacy and surgery by a long residence at Paris where some of the greatest surgeons of the age were, at that time, practising in the hospitals. He appears to have proceeded from France to Spain, towards the close of 1835, and to have there served under Sir De Lacy Evans for two years as a staff surgeon in the British Auxiliary Legion—raised in aid of the party of the late Queen of Spain against the Carlists. During this period of active service, to which he was attracted by the adventurous spirit incidental to youth, Mr a'Beckett was under the immediate command of Mr Rutherford Alcock, the Deputy lnspector-General of Hospitals—now Sir Rutherford Alcock, formerly HM’s Ambassador at the Court of Japan, and at present the British Plenipotentiary at Peking, in China. Mr Arthur a'Beckett retained his staff appointment in Spain for two years, during which he acquired the esteem of all his comrades by his unwearied assiduity and skill, aided as it was at this, and at every subsequent period of his career, by amiability of manners and high social qualities. His professional services were duly recognised by the Spanish Government of the day. He was created a Knight of the Order of St Ferdinand of Spain (2nd class), and received also the remarkable honour of a cross (Calatrava) for gallant conduct under fire in the field-doubtless when in the sedulous and brave performance of his duties as a surgeon. Mr a'Beckett also received a Bronze Cross and a Medal for his services at St Sebastian and Irun. On quitting the Queen of Spain's service he received high testimonials from Sir Rutherford Alcock and Sir De Lacy Evans. Returning to England Mr a'Beckett became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons on the 9th of March, 1838, and was advanced to be a fellow of the same college on the 13th of December, 1855. He first came out to this colony in 1838, and remained here in practice for upwards of thirty years. Twice during this long period of active usefulness Dr. a'Beckett visited Europe. Previous to his first visit to Europe he was one of the first members of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. He was also, at that time, one of the trustees of the Australian Museum, one of the Commissioners of the Paris Exhibition of 1855, a consulting surgeon of the Benevolent Asylum at Sydney and a member of the Board of Examiners of the Faculty of Medicine in the Sydney University. Mr a'Beckett, of late years, was also one of the trustees, of the Sydney Grammar School, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society at London. The cause of his death was serious apoplexy, which attacked him about twenty fours before his decease. He remained insensible from the first up to the hour of his death. Mr a’Beckett’s elder brother was Sir William a'Beckett, late Chief Justice of Victoria where his surviving brother, the Hon T. T. a’Beckett, is a member of the Legislative Council. His talented brother, Gilbert a'Beckett (well known as one of the founders of Punch), died at London, in August, 1856. Mr. Arthur a'Beckett was married to Miss Elwyn, the sister of the celebrated author of that name—well known as one of the principal writers of the Quarterly. By this lady, who survives him, Mr. a'Beckett leaves a family of two sons and four daughters.

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'à Beckett, Arthur Martin (1812–1871)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/a-beckett-arthur-martin-13432/text24091, accessed 25 July 2014.

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