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Theodore Beggs (1859–1940)

by Hugh Anderson

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BEGGS BROTHERS: Theodore (1859-1940), Robert Gottlieb (1861-1939) and Hugh Norman (1863-1943), pastoralists and sheep breeders, were sons of Francis Beggs and his wife Maria Lucinda, née White. Born at Malahide, Ireland, in 1812, Francis Beggs entered Trinity College, Dublin, in 1828 and later farmed his father's Malahide estate. Soon after his marriage in July 1849 he migrated to Port Phillip with his wife, brother George and sister Sophia, arriving in Geelong next March. He purchased the rights to Gnarkeet, near Lismore, and lived there until 1859 when he became partner to George in Mount Cole, or Eurambeen, near Beaufort; as G. and F. Beggs they built up a fine merino stud flock.

Theodore, seventh child of Francis, was born at Geelong on 17 August 1859. He was educated by a tutor, and on his father's death in 1880 became manager and a trustee of the Eurambeen estate. Three years later he and his brothers Robert and Hugh joined in a pastoral partnership that leased and purchased several large properties in the district. When the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in 1913, Theodore became sole owner of Eurambeen.

For some thirty years Beggs was a councillor of Ripon Shire and was twice president. From 1910 until his retirement in 1928 he was member for Nelson Province in the Legislative Council. He voted there to keep large properties intact and led local opposition to the acquisition of Trawalla estate for soldier settlement in 1919, causing his critics to allege that he thought 'more of a bit of dirt than he thinks of a man'. He was a director of the Ballarat Trustees, Executors & Agency Co. Ltd, a member of the Australian Sheep Breeders' Association, Victorian delegate to the Pastoralists' Federal Council in 1915 and was widely known as a judge of merino sheep. He was a member of the Melbourne, Australian and Ballarat clubs. In 1906 Theodore was described as 'a thoughtful man, not easy to best in argument, and though most amiable in disposition, a “sticker” in conference'. On 3 December 1918 he married Agnes Jane Walpole. He died on 2 April 1940 at Eurambeen and was buried there in the family cemetery, survived by his wife and their four daughters.

Robert Gottlieb was born at Eurambeen on 21 September 1861 and was also educated privately. He worked on the property until 1882 when he became a partner with his brother Francis (1850-1921). In December 1882 he married Maria, daughter of A. B. Balcombe, who died next year giving birth to a son. He then joined Theodore and Hugh, managing their joint property, Hopkins Hill, at Chatsworth, until 1913 when he took it over himself together with part of Nareeb Nareeb, at Glenthompson, which the partners had bought in 1909. In 1920 he bought some of Mawallok, near Beaufort, which he renamed Buln Gherin. Apart from sheep breeding his great interest was the growing of trees, especially native species which he raised from seed. Like his brother Hugh, he was a councillor for the Leigh and Mount Rouse shires. In September 1905 he had married Amy, daughter of Colonel P. R. Ricardo. She became State president for three years of the Country Women's Association and, survived her husband, together with their three sons and two daughters and his son by his first marriage, when he died on 12 July 1939. His estate was sworn for probate at £30,377.

Hugh Norman was born at Eurambeen on 6 June 1863. He was educated at Wesley College, Melbourne, and spent three years in a bank before joining Theodore and Robert on the land. He managed their property, Swanwater, near St Arnaud, until 1909 and then Nareeb Nareeb until 1913, when he purchased 12,800 acres (5180 ha) of that property, including the homestead. He was for many years an executive member, and later trustee, of the Graziers' Association of Victoria, and was president of the Australian Sheep Breeders' Association. Hugh, like his brothers, was a practical and efficient sheepman; he too publicly expressed alarm in 1919 at what he termed the 'indiscriminate resumption of land' for closer settlement. In 1897 he had married Mary Catherine Reeves, daughter of Henry Sandford Palmer, former high sheriff for County Tipperary, Ireland: they had four sons and a daughter. He died at Hamilton on 29 November 1943, survived by his wife and a son and a daughter. Both he and Robert were buried at Eurambeen. His estate was sworn for probate at £96,577.

Select Bibliography

  • A. Henderson (ed), Early Pioneer Families of Victoria and Riverina (Melb, 1936)
  • H. Anderson, The Flowers of the Field (Melb, 1969)
  • Pastoral Review, July 1906, Mar 1915, Sept 1929, Aug 1939, Apr 1940, Dec 1943
  • Argus (Melbourne), 3 Apr 1940
  • Trawalla Soldier Settlement papers (held by Shire of Ripon, Beaufort)
  • station records (privately held).

Additional Resources

Citation details

Hugh Anderson, 'Beggs, Theodore (1859–1940)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1979, accessed online 20 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 7, (Melbourne University Press), 1979

View the front pages for Volume 7

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


17 August, 1859
Geelong, Victoria, Australia


2 April, 1940 (aged 80)
Beaufort, Victoria, Australia

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