History of West Australia/Thomas Henry Lovegrove

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THE medical faculty of Western Australia contains men of resource, who evince a lively interest in matters outside the range of their profession. We have already adverted to Dr. Waylen, and Dr. Lovegrove is another example. This gentleman has had an extensive local experience as a medical officer under the Imperial and Colonial Governments, and as a successful magistrate.

Thomas Henry Lovegrove HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Greenham & Evans.

Thomas Henry Lovegrove is the fourth son of the late Dr. Joseph Lovegrove, of Colby House, Kensington, London, and was born in Sussex in 1845. He studied as a youth in France, but his professional education was obtained at the St. George Hospital, London. In 1867 he was admitted as a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, and was appointed by the Imperial Government a medical officer in the Western Australian Convict Service. Leaving England he was stationed at Bunbury as Resident Medical Officer. While negotiating the duties attached to this position, he associated himself with the social and industrial life of the district. Some years later he was gazetted Police Magistrate for the Blackwood district and created a Justice of the Peace. As he filled this important appointment with that of medical officer he was busily engaged, but even yet found time to devote to the local volunteer force, and to infusing vitality into other district organisations. For a number of years he captained the Bunbury Mounted Volunteers, succeeding Captain Rose. He acted in 1885 as Resident Magistrate and Chairman of the Court of Petty Sessions. For nine years he was chairman of the Education Board for the Wellington district, and for three years chairman of the local Roads Board. Like the then Colonial Surgeon, Dr. Waylen, he went out of his way to encourage agricultural efforts, and for over three years was chairman of the Bunbury Agricultural Society.

In October, 1885, Dr. Lovegrove was appointed Government Resident at Kimberley when the gold fields in that district began to attract attention; he also officiated as warden. He was thus the pioneer warden on Western Australian goldfields. Remaining in Kimberley for five years, performing the onerous duties of magistrate and warden, and also attending to questions of public health, in 1890 he was removed to Perth. In that year Dr. Waylen was absent on a tour through England, and Dr. Lovegrove was appointed Acting Colonial Surgeon. For thirteen months he was thus occupied, and conducted all the duties devolving on the Colonial Surgeonship, including that of chairman of the Medical Board and chairman of the Central Board of Health. Upon Dr. Waylen's return, Dr. Lovegrove took up his old offices as resident medical officer and police magistrate at Blackwood. Once more he associated himself with local matters. The Mounted Volunteer Corps having been disbanded, he set to work and formed the Bunbury Rifle Volunteers Corps, himself taking the command.

His highly satisfactory and worthy career in the colony had brought him prominently before the public. When in 1895 Dr. Waylen retired, Dr. Lovegrove, in October, was appointed to fill the vacancy. The office of Colonial Surgeon was then superseded by that of Principal Medical Officer for Western Australia, and this position he has since filled. He controls all Government Hospitals in the colony with the exception of the Perth Hospital, which has a board of management. It is within Dr. Lovegrove's province, and is a part of his duty to visit at intervals, and supervise and see to the proper maintenance of Hospitals at Fremantle, Bunbury, York, Northam, Geraldton, Derby, Roebourne, Wyndham, Vasse, Albany, Newcastle, Esperance, Carnarvon, Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, Menzies, Cue, Hall's Greek. Guildford, and Beverley. This is an extensive list, and demands some considerable executive ability. Added to which, Dr Lovegrove is District Coroner for Perth and Fremantle. On two occasions he has represented Western Australia at inter-colonial conferences. The first of these was held at Dunedin, New Zealand, where medical delegates from the different colonies met together to discuss medical matters of general importance. The second was the Australasian Conference, held in Melbourne, in order to obtain uniformity of action in relation to the quarantining of disease-infected vessels.

He married, in 1869, the eldest daughter of Mr. G. Eliot, some time Government resident at Geraldton.

Dr. Lovegrove has shown much aptitude as a medical officer, and his judgment as a magistrate has always been respected. There appears to be some disparity between the two positions, but, possessed of excellent all-round talent, Dr. Lovegrove negotiated one as satisfactorily as the other. Wherever he has been in the colony he has made many friends.