• Full Name:
    Dr John Feild Deck
  • Role:
    Registered practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Physician, homœopath
  • State:
    New South Wales
    New Zealand
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


[1835 - 24/7/1929]


Dr John Feild Deck (Feild is the correct spelling, not Field) was the son of James George Deck and his wife Alicia Feild, who had migrated from England to New Zealand in 1853, along with their eight surviving children. They took up land near Nelson in the South Island. After his first wife died, he married again and had a further five children. James Deck was a leading figure among the Plymouth Brethren in New Zealand.


John Feild Deck returned to England and obtained his qualifications in Britain (MD St Andrews (gold medallist of his year); LRCP London; MRCS England 1862). He was House Surgeon and Resident at St Thomas Hospital in London, then moved to New Zealand where he was surgeon at the Invercargill Hospital and Coroner for Southland. He practised at Invercargill and Dunedin until 1875.


John and his wife, Emily Baring Young (daughter of Mr Henry Young of the Indian Civil Service), arrived in Sydney in 1877 and settled in Ashfield. They helped in the formation of the Queensland Kanaka mission (later the South Sea Evangelical Mission), which was the first Brethren missionary body to be founded in the antipodes.


In those early days he and another doctor were the only practitioners between Sydney and Parramatta. For many years he was on the councils of the China Inland Mission, the South Sea Evangelical Mission, and the Egypt General Mission.


Dr Deck also became one of the most influential men in the advancement of homœopathy in Sydney.


The Australasian Medical Directories for 1883 to 1900 recorded that he lived and practised at “Witheycombe”  (SEE NOTE BELOW), 92 Elizabeth Street East, Ashfield . In 1886 he was recorded as being in practice with Dr Read at Elizabeth Street (“of Drs Deck and Read”). This was probably Herbert Huntington Read, MD McGill College Montreal, Canada, LRCS Edinburgh 1861.


From 1900 he practised from "Withycombe" at Ashfield and 203 Macquarie Street, Sydney. The Sydney Directory for 1915 records that “Hatherleigh Deck”, surgeon, was also at “Withycombe” and Norman Deck, dentist, was also at 92 Elizabeth Street East. “Hatherleigh Deck” would be Horace Leigh Deck, who graduated LRCP (London) 1906 and MRCS (England) 1906, and was registered in Australia on April 8, 1908.


Dr JF Deck was a well-known Sydney homœopathic physician, instrumental in the establishment of the Sydney Homœopathic Hospital in 1902 at Redfern. In the same year, Dr Deck wrote a Proposal for the establishment of a Homœopathic Hospital in Sydney in theSydney Homœopathic Circular, 1902.


He became one of the Homœopathic Hospital’s Honorary Medical Officers, and continued in this capacity almost until his death in 1929. (The Argus and Sydney Morning Herald stated that he was 95.)


An obituary in The Argus in 1929 stated:



                            The family of Dr John Feild Deck (Centre row, 4th from the left):

                              -  Dr George Henry/Harry/ Baring Deck (Centre row, 1st on left)

                              -  Emily Deck - wife of Dr John Feild Deck (Centre row, 3rd from the left)

                              -  Norman Deck (Back row, 1st on the left)

                              -  Dr John Northcote Deck (Back row, 4th from the left)
                              -  Dr Hatherleigh/Horace Leigh/ Deck (Front row, far right)
                                   Photograph courtesy of Gordon Griffiths (a descendant of the Deck family).

The late Dr John Feild Deck, of Ashfield, probably created a world’s record in medical missionary families. His family numbered 11. Four sons are doctors. One son is attached to the Egyptian General Mission and one is a missionary in the Solomons. Of the daughters three are missionaries in the Solomons and one is in the China Inland Mission. When one speaks in Sydney of Dr Deck there is naturally an inquiry “Which Dr Deck?” The late Dr John Feild Deck, who died on Wednesday last at the age of 95, was himself associated with missionary movements for many years, but not in the wilds. He was long on the councils of the China Inland Mission, the Egyptian General Mission, and the South Sea Evangelical Mission. When Dr Deck settled in practice in Sydney more than 50 years ago there was only a string of townlets in partly wooded country from the city to Parramatta, with hundreds of people where there are now hundreds of thousands. He was a valuable influence in the growing city, ever a keen student of the world’s affairs, a philosopher, constantly finding signs of real progress, and imparting his knowledge and confidence to others in a manner agreeable and valuable to them.


(Note that this obituary does not mention that another son of John Feild Deck, Norman Deck, also worked as a missionary in the Solomon Islands.)



The name of the residence cited as "Witheycombe" refers to a mis-spelled abbreviation of the name of a village in England, near Exmouth in Devon, called "Withycombe Raleigh", the childhood home of his wife.  In other references to the Deck family, the correct spelling of "Withycombe" is used.


© Barbara Armstrong


  • Created:
    Monday, 25 May 2009
  • Last modified:
    Sunday, 10 August 2014