The Watch

Above photo 2003 my collection

I am probably biased, but this is one of the most exquisite fob watches I have ever seen. The blue on the hands might also have something to do with it as it is my favourite colour blue, reminiscent of my favourite bridge – London’s Tower Bridge. I have my distant relatives to thank for the opportunity to view this treasure that originally belonged to my Great, Great, Grandfather Dr Frederick Williams Cadwalleder Beavan and now sits in the Brownless Medical Library Museum in Melbourne Victoria.

It was probably in the spring of 1844, when conditions would have been best, that Frederick and his wife, Emily set out for England from New Brunswick in Canada where they had met and married in 1838. Frederick’s father had passed away on 1st March 1844 and Frederick was to take over his father’s medical practice in Blanchland, Northumberland England. [1]

Travelling with them were their two surviving children at the time, Alfred Spurzheim aged about five and Isabella Barbara, aged about three years old. A daughter, Agnes Charlotte had sadly passed away within two months of her birth in January 1844. According to Mr Allison’s diary, Frederick was to take his father’s position and was given a great dinner at J. Kingard’s (sic) house.[2]

While practicing at Blanchland, Frederick had continued to study and became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons on 12 April 1850.[3] He worked as a surgeon in Blanchland and surrounds, caring for the people from 1844 until 1851 when he resigned his position.

So, it was upon leaving the Derwent Mines in 1851 that he came to be presented with this gold fob watch manufactured by G Reid & sons, Newcastle on Tyne, No 14600.[4] Marks on the watch are JW (crown) p shield 18.  The box appears not to be the original being from Hardy Brothers in Sydney. The inscription on the watch reads:

Presented to Fred’k W.C. Beavan MD MRCSE

by 180 Inhabitants of

Derwent as a testimony to

their respect for his private

& professional character

2 of May 1851

Above Photo 2003 my collection

What a lovely momento! I am sure he would have been very humbled and proud to receive it. It certainly has been treasured.

Late in May 1851 the family are to be found living in Neath, Glamorganshire where Frederick was advertising his services as a General Practitioner.[5] Whilst I don’t actually know, I suspect his reason for leaving Blanchland was because they had decided to immigrate to Australia. Perhaps he was waiting for an appointment on a ship and, as he had family in Neath, he was earning some money while he waited. He also had his new RCSE Membership under his belt which would give him some professional standing in the community.

Either way, in 1852 they were aboard a ship called Mariner, an American Built ship, leaving London on 6th March and arriving in Melbourne, Victoria on 29th June 1852. Frederick was appointed Surgeon Superintendent. One daughter, Edith Florinda, their youngest and only two years old was left behind to be raised by Frederick’s unmarried cousin, Florinda. Alfred and Isabella were now around 13 and 11 years old and, sadly, another daughter, Emily Elizabeth, also born in Blanchland, had passed away while a toddler. Why they left Edith is a mystery long buried. She was very young and perhaps they thought the journey too arduous. I don’t know if they kept in touch but I imagine so. Frederick did return to England in 1854 and perhaps he visited her then, but I don’t think they saw each other again after that. Edith lived to be nearly 70 and never married, remaining with her father’s cousin Florinda until Florinda’s death parted them in 1875.

Settling in Kilmore Victoria, Frederick and Emily’s little family grew and many grandchildren were born. Frederick’s personal items were handed down through the family. Most of it seems to have gone to Frank Cleveland Beavan, the last surviving child of Frederick’s oldest son Alfred. Although Frank had married, he had no children and had lost touch with his cousins. Thinking he had no relatives to pass these treasures on to, he donated many of them to the AMA (Australian Medical Association) Museum. When it eventually closed, they in turn donated them to the Brownless Medical Library Museum. Frank’s letters to the AMA mention a surgeon’s journal which is not at the Museum as he thought they would not be interested. It seems to be lost. I did contact his executors but they weren’t able to help. However, many other fascinating and interesting items are there for all of us to see if we wish, including the fob watch. I think Frank’s decision was probably the best one even if he had known of other relatives to pass them on to.

NOTE: Frederick and Emily’s lives were very full and adventurous and so I have decided to tell some of their stories in small chapters.

[1] GRO, Death Certificate of Frederick Beavan, date 27 Feb 1844, Hexham 25 206, UK.

[2] Leonard Allison, notebooks, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, NB, Canada.

[3] Royal College of Surgeons, Certificate of Admittance as Member of the College, 1 April 1850, copy held by the author, Kilmore Historical Society and Brownless Biomedical Library Melbourne Ann Tovell Archive, envelope 1668.

[4] Medical History Museum Guide to Records, Listed by Ann Brothers, Kate Naughton, Louise Murray, Jessica Lot and Jessie Borrelle, Creator Australians Medical Association (Victoria Branch), Date range 1851 05 02, Quantity 2 items (item 1 [watch]: 4.2 x 4.8 cm; item 2 [case]: 11.0 x 11.0 cm), Inventory Identifier MHM02907 Series 4, Watch: gold fob-watch, belonging to Dr. F.W.C. Beavan. accessed 26 Jan 2010. It has the marks JW (crown) p shield 18 and does not appear to be in its original box as the box is from Hardy Bros, Hunter St Sydney and 118 Queen St Brisbane

[5] The Cambrian, 30 May 1851.

One thought on “The Watch

  1. crissouli says:

    Congratulations! Your blog has been included in INTERESTING BLOGS in FRIDAY FOSSICKING at

    Thank you, Chris


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