Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 04.djvu/25

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Beatson
Beatson
21

4. An edition of Demosthenes' Oration against the Law of Leptines, 1864.

[Athenæum, 1 Aug. 1874; Luard's Grad. Cantab. 1760-1856; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

BEATSON, GEORGE STEWARD, M.D. (d. 1874), surgeon-general, graduated in arts and medicine at Glasgow, where he took the degree of M.D. in 1836. In 1838 he joined the army medical department, and did duty on the staff in Ceylon from 1839 to 1851. He was surgeon to the 51st foot in the second Burmese war, and subsequently served in Turkey during the Crimean war, where he rendered valuable services in the organisation of the hospitals at Smyrna. After serving as deputy inspector-general in the Ionian islands and Madras, he became surgeon-general in 1863, and was appointed principal medical officer of European troops in India, an appointment which he held for the customary five years. For the next three years he was in medical charge of the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley; and in 1871 was appointed principal medical officer in India for the second time. He was appointed a C.B. in 1869. He died suddenly at Simla on 7 June 1874. Beatson, who was an honorary physician to the queen, was accounted one of the ablest officers in the army medical service, but it is in the records of the department, at home and in India, rather than in professional literature, that his labours will be noticed.

[Ann. Reg. 1874; Army Lists; Lancet, June 1874.]

H. M. C.

BEATSON, ROBERT, LL.D. (1742–1818), compiler and miscellaneous writer, was born in 1742 at Dysart in Fifeshire. He was educated for the military profession, and on one of his title-pages describes himself as 'late of his majesty's corps of Royal Engineers.' It was probably as a subaltern in this corps that he accompanied the unsuccessful expedition against Rochefort in 1757, and was present with the force which, reaching the West Indies early in 1759, failed in the attack on Martinique, but succeeded in capturing Guadaloupe. He is represented in 1766 as retiring on half-pay, and as failing, in spite of repeated applications, to secure active employment during the American war. Afterwards he seems to have betaken himself to practical agriculture in his native county, his writings on the subject being such as could have scarcely emanated from any one not a practical agriculturist. He became an honorary member of the Board of Agriculture, of the Royal Highland Society of Scotland, and of the London Society of Arts. For the information of the first of these bodies he drew up an elaborate 'General View of the Agriculture of the County of Fife, with observations on the means of its improvement,' which was published in 1794, and in which he styles himself 'Robert Beatson, Esq., of Pitterdie.' In this report he advocated long leases and the encouragement of small holdings. In 1798 he published 'An Essay on the Comparative Advantages of Vertical and Horizontal Windmills, containing a description of an horizontal windmill and watermill upon a new construction,' &c. For this wheel he took out a patent, and a model of it was exhibited in London. To the fifth volume of A. Hunter's 'Georgical Essays' (York, 1804) Beatson contributed practical papers (in one of them he speaks of having recently made an agricultural tour in many parts of England) on farm-buildings, farmhouses, barns, and stables.

Besides writing on agriculture, Beatson was the author of several works of much more general utility. In 1786 he published in three parts his well-known 'Political Index to the Histories of Great Britain and Ireland, or a complete register of the hereditary honours, public offices, and persons in office from the earliest periods to the present time.' It was dedicated to the author's friend, Adam Smith, who had expressed approval of the work. From its completeness as well as accuracy, it is a most useful, valuable, and indeed a unique work of reference. In 1788 it reached a second edition, in two volumes, containing nearly twice as much matter as the first, and a third edition in 1806. In 1790 appeared, in three volumes, Beatson's 'Naval and Military Memoirs of Great Britain, from the year 1727 to the present time,' also a useful work, in which the naval element predominates. To the narrative are appended lists of the ships in the squadrons and fleets of France and Spain as well as of Great Britain during the period dealt with, and also despatches, state papers, and geographical descriptions of the places referred to in the text. In 1807 appeared the last of Beatson's works of reference, three volumes of 'A Chronological Register of both Houses of Parliament from the Union in 1708 to the Third Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.' Besides lists of peers qualified to sit in each parliament, bounties and boroughs alphabetically arranged are given in chronological order, with the names of their members in every house of commons during the period embraced, and notes chronicling as they arose the changes, with their causes, in the representation of each constituency. Election petitions and