Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Charles Ferdinand Marks (1852–1941)

by Ross Patrick

This article was published:

Charles Ferdinand Marks (1852-1941), medical practitioner and politician, was born on 8 September 1852 at St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England, son of Alexander Hammett Marks, medical practitioner, and his wife Emily, née Smyth. After education at Epsom College and in Switzerland, he studied medicine at Queen's College, Galway, Ireland, graduating M.D. (Queen's University) in 1874. Additional qualifications included M.R.C.S. (Eng., 1875) and F.R.C.S. (Ire., 1902).

After practice in Ireland, New Zealand and England, Marks migrated to Queensland in 1879. On 23 September at St Mary's Church of England, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, he married a shipboard companion, a widow, Elizabeth Gray Dods, née Stodart, mother of Robin Dods. After a short period at the district hospital, St George, the couple returned to Brisbane in 1880 where a house was built for them at 101 Wickham Terrace. After Robin Dods supervised alterations in the early 1890s this villa residence had three storeys and twenty rooms.

Marks soon built up a busy practice and achieved eminence in many fields of medicine. He was visiting surgeon to the (Royal) Brisbane Hospital from 1883 to 1904 and the Lady Bowen Hospital. In 1882-94 he was a member of the Central Board of Health and in 1882-1912 of the Queensland Medical Board, being president in the last three years. In his retiring address as president of the Queensland branch of the British Medical Association in 1897 he advocated a state salaried medical service. Despite colleague opposition he favoured the entry of women to medicine. Other appointments included membership of the Immigration Board, surgeon major in the Queensland Defence Force and commandant of the 6th Australian General Hospital, Brisbane, during World War I.

A member of the Legislative Council in 1888-1922, he helped to guard the status of the profession whenever it was threatened by proposed legislation. He strongly supported the indecent advertisements bill in 1892. He advocated a higher priority for arts and agriculture than for medicine while a member of a commission enquiring into a proposed university for Queensland in 1891.

Marks accumulated property and was one of five partners who formed the Rubyanna Sugar Co., Bundaberg. During financial difficulties in 1891-92 he bore the full brunt of the company's liquidation after his partners had entered separate negotiations. He lost heavily but the Wickham Terrace house was saved. Resigning his official positions he was reappointed to all, including the Legislative Council, almost immediately.

Well-built, of average height, blue-eyed, with full beard early and moustache only later, Marks was a presentable figure. He had a fine sense of humour and was beloved by patients and family even though his word was law. Fond of old and new devices, he was among the first to own a motor car and a refrigerator and often tinkered with his crystal radio. In 1927 he became a foundation fellow of the (Royal) Australasian College of Surgeons.

Marks had retired to his property, Cushleva, Camp Mountain, Samford, in 1920 and died there from cerebral ischaemia on 28 March 1941; he was cremated with Anglican rites. Of the three sons and one daughter who survived him, two sons, including Alexander Hammett, were medical specialists.

Select Bibliography

  • T. W. H. Leavitt (ed), Australian Representative Men (Brisb, 1888)
  • R. Lawson, Brisbane in the 1890s (Brisb, 1973)
  • Votes and Proceedings (Legislative Assembly, Queensland), 1891, 3, p 881
  • Australasian Medical Gazette, 16 (1897), p 87
  • Medical Journal of Australlia, 16 Aug 1941, p187
  • Brisbane Courier, 26 Jan, 2 Feb 1892
  • private information.

Citation details

Ross Patrick, 'Marks, Charles Ferdinand (1852–1941)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1986, accessed online 24 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 10, (Melbourne University Press), 1986

View the front pages for Volume 10

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


8 September, 1852
St Leonards-on-Sea, Sussex, England


28 March, 1941 (aged 88)
Samford, Queensland, Australia

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