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Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Beggs, Arthur Ricardo (1906–1978)

by Marjorie Waite

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

Arthur Ricardo Beggs (1906-1978), pastoralist and sheep-breeder, was born on 4 October 1906 at Hopkins Hill station, Chatsworth, Victoria, eldest son of Robert Gottlieb Beggs, grazier, and his wife Amy, née Ricardo. Arthur was educated at Geelong Church of England Grammar School (1918-25) where he won colours in football, rowing and athletics, and became a prefect. He began his career as a pastoralist on his father's property, Buln Gherin, at Beaufort. In 1928 he and his brother Ralph bought another family property, Niawanda, from their half-brother Robert Balcombe Beggs. On 23 April 1930, at the Hamilton Presbyterian Church, Arthur married Elsie Helen Shaw.

From his family he inherited a pride in sheep-breeding. He was to prove himself a grazier of courage and imagination, and to make Buln Gherin—which he purchased from the family trust in 1945—a model property. Primarily interested in the merino breed, he was a member and chairman of both the Victorian and Australian stud merino breeders' associations. Yet he did not overlook the importance of other breeds: he was also president of the Australian Sheepbreeders' and of the Australian Superfine Woolgrowers' associations. Recognizing the importance of being involved in policy-making if initiatives relating to rural industries were to be fulfilled, Beggs served as vice-president of the Graziers' Association of Victoria and of the Australian Woolgrowers' and Graziers' Council. He was, as well, a member of the Australian Wool Board in 1964-72 and of its wool advisory research committee.

Fascinated by science, Beggs had served in 1928 as field-officer on a project established at Buln Gherin by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research to investigate the nutritional value of pastures. A staunch advocate of the re-opening of the school of veterinary science at the University of Melbourne, he was a member of the faculty in 1962-78. He belonged to the Australian Pastoral Research Trust, and was president of the Melbourne College of Textiles and of the Melbourne Wool School's advisory council. Receptive to new ideas, he supported the establishment of the Marcus Oldham Agricultural (later Farm Management) College, Geelong, and was its chairman (1962-76): the computer and seminar centre was to be named after him in March 1990.

Beggs was appointed C.B.E. in 1957. Gentle, courteous and unassuming, he was a respected leader in the Anglican Church, a member of synod, a lay canon (from 1953) and a councillor of the diocese of Ballarat (1956-72). He was a director of the Australasian Temperance & General Mutual Life Assurance Society (T. & G. Mutual Life Society Ltd) from 1959. Despite his commitments in many fields, he had found time for his own community. The Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society was placed on a sound footing under his leadership after World War II. He was a founder and life member of the Ripon Rural Fire Brigade and a member (1932-64) of the board of management of the Ripon Peace Memorial Hospital (president, 1939-64). Survived by his wife, son and two daughters, he died on 8 April 1978 at Beaufort and was cremated with Anglican rites.

Select Bibliography

  • H. Anderson, The Flowers of the Field (Melb, 1969)
  • J. O. Randall, Teamwork (Melb, 1976)
  • I. Wynd, Success Through Endeavour (Geelong, 1987)
  • Geelong Church of England Grammar School, Corian, July-Aug 1978
  • Riponshire Advocate, 28 Apr 1978
  • private information.

Citation details

Marjorie Waite, 'Beggs, Arthur Ricardo (1906–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 22 October 2020.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (MUP), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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