• Full Name:
    Dr Bernard Thomas
  • Role:
    Registered practitioner
  • Occupation/s:
    Physician, homœopath, Justice of the Peace, public vaccinator, astronomer
  • State:
  • Date first identified using homoeopathy in Australia:
[c.1868 - 13/5/1935]

Bernard Thomas was the son of Sarah Anne Weston and Henry Thomas.


Bernard's father, Henry Thomas, was a British homœopath who graduated from the Hahnemann Medical College & Hospital of Philadelphia in 1855. Although some reports state that Henry also graduated from The Western College of Homœopathic Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio in 1856, Henry's name does not appear in the list of graduates of this college. Records displayed via the Rhagorol Online Catalogue show that Henry attended the Ohio College during the academic year of 1853/1854, after which he attended the College in Philadelphia during the academic year of 1854/1855, where he obtained his medical diploma.


Dr Henry Thomas returned to England and practised in Cheshire. He had great difficulty in obtaining registration with the Medical Board, which did not want to accept his American qualification. According to the 1871 English Census, the family resided at Whitefriars, St Bridget, Chester.

                  Dr Bernard Thomas c.1920s

       Photograph courtesy of Max Henry Thomas (grandson).


Henry's son, Bernard Thomas, gained his qualifications (MB, CM Edinburgh) in 1891, and then held a position as resident medical officer at the Liverpool Homœopathic Hospital for several years until he emigrated to Hobart in Tasmania, Australia.


Dr Bernard Thomas was registered in Tasmania as a legally qualified medical practitioner on June 6 1899 and became the first resident medical officer at the Hobart Homœopathic Hospital. (See the article regarding the opening of the Hobart Homœopathic Hospital for a description of the Hospital's layout, including the location of the premises used by the resident medical officer.)


An advertisement of 13 August 1899 stated that his consulting rooms were located in Bathurst Street, next door to the Homœopathic Pharmacy. While in Hobart, he provided services to the Hobart District I.O.O.F.


In the 1900 edition of the Australasian Medical Directory he was listed as being at Hobart. By August 1901 he had moved to Lovett, Port Cygnet. In 1903 he was appointed to be public vaccinator for Port Cygnet, and for the districts of Gordon and Kingsborough. (Note that the town was called Port Cygnet until 1895. It was then called Lovett until 1915. After then, it was called Cygnet. However, around the turn of the century (the late 1800s and early 1900s) newspapers and directories used both  'Port Cygnet' and 'Lovett'.)


Bernard married Louisa Elizabeth Garth at Lovett on 18 June 1902, and their son was born at Lovett on 22 December, 1903. Baptised Henry Bernard Thomas, their son was usually called 'Harry'.


Dr Thomas became the first president of the Lovett Debating and Literary Society, and was also the chairman of the Port Cygnet Regatta Club and the School of Arts Committee. He was also involved with the activities of the Methodist Church, helping to raise funds by contributing to a local concert, showing "some beautiful views" with the magic lantern.


In June 1904 it was announced that Dr Thomas would be visiting Woodbridge every Friday "and may be consulted at Mr Potter's about 12 o'clock." The newspaper article stated that "Everyone will wish this genial medic every success, which he richly deserves. His visits there will be a great convenience to residents."


In October 1905, Dr Thomas was appointed Justice of the Peace for the district of Franklin.


In July 1910 it was announced that Dr Bernard Thomas had commenced practice in Glenorchy, and could be consulted at his residence in Stephen Street. It was during this period that he was elected medical officer for the Ancient Order of Foresters.


In the 1915 edition of the Australasian Medical Directory he was listed as being Honorary Medical Officer at the Hobart Homœopathic Hospital, while his address was at Glenorchy in Tasmania. In August 1918 it was announced that he had moved from Stephen Street in Glenorchy to "Kensington", Main Road, opposite Chapel Street in Glenorchy.


In January 1927 it was announced that he had commenced practice at Catamaran, and in December of the same year he had started practice in Dover, in the rooms of J.V. Rowe. He was appointed health officer for Dover and Southport wards.


In September 1928 it was announced that he had purchased Dr D. Hamilton's practice at Sorell, and would therefore commence practice on October 1.


By 1933 Dr Thomas was at Beaconsfield, where he spent 18 months before his death at a private hospital in Launceston on 13 May, 1935, aged 67. He was buried at Carr Villa Cemetery in Launceston.


Dr Thomas was extremely interested in astronomy, and possessed his own telescope which he used to study the stars. Over the years, he gave many talks on the topic: "The moon and the man in the moon", "The Southern stars", and "Recent astronomical discoveries." He also reported that he had seen the "new comet Gale" through his telescope. He was made a member of the Astronomical Society of Tasmania at its inception in July 1934. In 1926, H. Grouiller, an astronomer at the Lyon Observatory, St Genis Laval (Rhone) added Bernard's name to the membership list of the "Committee of Support of the work of the Lyon Observatory" in France.


Dr Thomas' possessions included text books and glass slide photographs of the moon's surface. These have been loaned to the Launceston Planetarium of Tasmania by Bernard's grandson, Max Thomas. Also in the collection on loan to the Planetarium is a postcard from H. Grouiller, thanking Bernard for his notification of the observation of Comet Cambell.



©   Barbara Armstrong


  • Created:
    Wednesday, 30 March 2011
  • Last modified:
    Wednesday, 13 April 2016