Open main menu

The Dictionary of Australasian Biography/a'Beckett, Hon. Thomas Turner

a’Beckett, Hon. Thomas Turner, J.P., comes of a well-known Wiltshire family, long settled at West Lavington, in that county. He is the son of the late William a’Beckett, a solicitor in London, and a brother of the late Sir William a’Beckett (q.v.), and of the late Gilbert Abbott a’Beckett, the well-known London police magistrate, comic author, and contributor to Punch. Another brother, Arthur Martin a’Beckett, F.R.C.S., was a prominent resident in Sydney, and died there on May 23rd, 1871. Mr. a’Beckett was born on Sept. 18th, 1808, and educated at Westminster School. After leaving he was articled to his father, and admitted a solicitor and attorney in 1829, when he joined his father in practice. Mr. a’Beckett wrote a number of able pamphlets advocating legal reforms, and was a member of the Council of the Law Amendment Society down to 1850, when he emigrated to Victoria, being admitted to practise as a solicitor in Melbourne in 1851, and was registrar of the diocese from 1854 to 1887. During the gold fever he published a pamphlet entitled "Gold and the Government," and was nominated to the Legislative Council on July 14th, 1852. On the inauguration of responsible government in 1855 he unsuccessfully attempted to enter the Lower House for Collingwood, but was elected to the Legislative Council for the central province, and sat from 1858 to 1878, when he retired from political life, in the course of which he opposed the ballot, the abolition of state aid to religion and the export duty on gold, and gave his adhesion to payment of members. Mr. a'Beckett was a member of the Heales Ministry without portfolio from Nov. 26th, 1860, to Nov. 11th, 1861, and was sworn of the Executive Council on Jan. 7th, 1861. In April 1868, on the resignation of Sir James MᶜCulloch during the Darling Grant crisis, Mr. a'Beckett was applied to by Lord Canterbury to form a conciliation ministry; but this, after considerable negotiation, he found himself unable to do, and in the result the Sladen Ministry was formed. Mr. a'Beckett was Commissioner of Trade and Customs in the third MᶜCulloch Administration, from April 9th, 1870, to June 19th, 1871. He was a member of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service in 1862, and Chairman of that of 1870. Mr. a'Beckett was also for many years a member of the Council of Melbourne University, and a trustee of the Public Library. He was Chairman of the Hobson's Bay Railway Company down to the time when the line became absorbed in the Government railway system. Before leaving London, Mr. a'Beckett published "Remarks on the Present State of the Law of Debtor and Creditor," 1844; "Railway Litigation, and How to Check It," 1846; "Law-reforming Difficulties: a Letter to Lord Brougham," 1849. After his arrival in Victoria he published "A Comparative View of Court Fees and Attorneys' Charges," 1854; "A Defence of State Aid to Religion," 1856; "State Aid Question—Strictures on Pamphlets of Dr. Cairns," 1856. Mr. a'Beckett from time to time delivered lectures at the Industrial and Technological Museum, Melbourne. Several of these, including "Painting and Painters," have been published.

In appended Supplement, p. 529

à Becket, Hon. Thomas Turner (p. 1). He died in Melbourne on July 1st, 1892.