Thomas à Beckett

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Sir Thomas à Beckett (31 August 1836 – 21 June 1919) [1] was an Australian solicitor and judge.

Australia Country in Oceania

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands. It is the largest country in Oceania and the world's sixth-largest country by total area. The neighbouring countries are Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and East Timor to the north; the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to the north-east; and New Zealand to the south-east. The population of 25 million is highly urbanised and heavily concentrated on the eastern seaboard. Australia's capital is Canberra, and its largest city is Sydney. The country's other major metropolitan areas are Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

A solicitor is a legal practitioner who traditionally deals with most of the legal matters in some jurisdictions. A person must have legally-defined qualifications, which vary from one jurisdiction to another, to be described as a solicitor and enabled to practise there as such. For example, in England and Wales a solicitor is admitted to practise under the provisions of the Solicitors Act 1974. With some exceptions, practising solicitors must possess a practising certificate. There are many more solicitors than barristers in England; they undertake the general aspects of giving legal advice and conducting legal proceedings.

Judge official who presides over court proceedings

A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and, typically, in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers of the case, assesses the credibility and arguments of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on his or her interpretation of the law and his or her own personal judgment. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury. In inquisitorial systems of criminal investigation, a judge might also be an examining magistrate.



Thomas à Beckett was born in London, England. He was the eldest son of Thomas Turner à Beckett [2] and arrived in Australia with his father (brother of Sir William à Beckett) in January 1851, arriving in Melbourne on the Andromache.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.

Thomas Turner à Beckett Member of Victorian Legislative Council

Thomas Turner à Beckett was a lawyer and politician in colonial Victoria (Australia), member of the Victorian Legislative Council.

À Beckett attended a private school in Melbourne but went back to England in 1856 and on 18 May 1857 became a student at Lincoln's Inn, being called to the bar on 17 November 1857. [3] He returned to Victoria, and was admitted to the bar there on 16 August 1860, and practised before the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne. [3] In 1866 he was made a puisne judge of the Victorian Supreme Court and was frequently required to act as Victoria's Chief Justice.

Lincolns Inn one of the four Inns of Court in London, England

The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London to which barristers of England and Wales belong and where they are called to the Bar. Lincoln's Inn is recognised to be one of the world's most prestigious professional bodies of judges and lawyers.

Supreme Court of Victoria superior court of the state of Victoria, Australia

The Supreme Court of Victoria is the superior court for the State of Victoria, Australia. It was founded in 1852, and is a superior court of common law and equity, with unlimited jurisdiction within the state. Those courts lying below it include the County Court of Victoria and the Magistrates' Court of Victoria. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which is not a court, serves a judicial function. Above it lies the High Court of Australia. This places it around the middle of the Australian court hierarchy. The building itself is on the Victorian Heritage Register.

Melbourne City in Victoria, Australia

Melbourne is the capital and most populous city of the Australian state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia and Oceania. Its name refers to an urban agglomeration of 9,992.5 km2 (3,858.1 sq mi), comprising a metropolitan area with 31 municipalities, and is also the common name for its city centre. The city occupies much of the coastline of Port Phillip bay and spreads into the hinterlands towards the Dandenong and Macedon ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. It has a population of approximately 4.9 million, and its inhabitants are referred to as "Melburnians".

In 1875 à Beckett married Isabella, the daughter of Sir Archibald Michie, [3] who survived him with two sons and three daughters. A younger brother, Edward à Beckett (1844-1932), was a portrait painter. Examples of his work are at the Supreme Court, Melbourne.

Sir Archibald Michie, was an English-born Australian lawyer, journalist, Agent-General, Attorney-General of Victoria and politician.

He was knighted as Knight Bachelor during 1909.

In 1916 the Victorian bar presented his portrait by Max Meldrum to the Supreme Court library, and the opportunity was taken to express the affection in which à Beckett was held. [1]

Max Meldrum Australian painter

Duncan Max Meldrum was a Scottish-born Australian painter. He is known as the founder of Australian Tonalism, a representational style of painting, as well as his portrait work, for which he won the Archibald Prize in 1939 and 1940.

Sir Thomas à Beckett died at Melbourne on 21 June 1919.


À Beckett was called to the bar in 1859 while he was still in England. He returned to Melbourne in 1860 where he established his practice as a solicitor, specializing in equity. He was lecturer in the law of procedure for several years at the University of Melbourne from 1874 onwards, and had been leader of the equity bar for some time when he was appointed a supreme court judge in September 1886.

The call to the bar is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where persons must be qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party and are then said to have been "called to the bar" or to have received a "call to the bar". "The bar" is now used as a collective noun for barristers, but literally referred to the wooden barrier in old courtrooms, which separated the often crowded public area at the rear from the space near the judges reserved for those having business with the Court. Barristers would sit or stand immediately behind it, facing the judge, and could use it as a table for their briefs.

University of Melbourne Australian public university located in Melbourne, Victoria

The University of Melbourne is a public research university located in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 1853, it is Australia's second oldest university and the oldest in Victoria. Melbourne's main campus is located in Parkville, an inner suburb north of the Melbourne central business district, with several other campuses located across Victoria.

À Beckett served as a judge from 30 September 1886 until 30 June 1917 on the Supreme Court of Victoria. He retired on 31 July 1917.

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  1. 1 2 Serle, Percival (1949). "à Beckett, Sir Thomas". Dictionary of Australian Biography . Sydney: Angus and Robertson.
  2. Griffith, R. G. De B. "'à Beckett, Sir Thomas (1836–1919)". Australian Dictionary of Biography . Canberra: Australian National University. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 Mennell,Philip (1892)." Wikisource-logo.svg   a'Beckett, His Honour Thomas".The Dictionary of Australasian Biography.London:Hutchinson & Co. Wikisource