VERCO, Sir Joseph Cooke (1851-1933)

VERCO, Sir Joseph Cooke (1851-1933)
physician and conchologist
son of James Crabb Verco, was born at Fullarton, South Australia, on 1 August 1851. Both his parents came from Cornwall, England. He was educated at the school of J. L. Young, an outstanding teacher at Adelaide, and after spending a year in the South Australian railway department intending to become a civil engineer he decided to take up medicine. As he wished to matriculate at the university of London he found it necessary to do more work in classics, and spent a year at St Peter's College for this purpose. At this school he won the Young exhibition, awarded to the best scholar of the year, and then went to London at the beginning of 1870. He obtained his M.R.C.S. in 1874, M.B. London in 1875, with scholarship and the gold medals for forensic medicine and medicine; L.R.C.P. in 1875; B.S. London, with scholarship and gold medal, M.D., London, and F.R.C.S. all in 1876. Verco was one of the most brilliant students of his time and a successful career in London was open to him. He was appointed house physician at St Bartholomew's hospital in 1876 and in 1877 midwifery assistant, but in the following year returned to Adelaide.
After a few years of general practice at Adelaide Verco became recognized at its leading physician, and led a very busy life. From 1882 to 1912 he was honorary physician to the Adelaide hospital and then honorary consulting physician. He was for several years honorary physician to the Adelaide Children's hospital. He was lecturer in medicine at the university of Adelaide from 1887 to 1915, dean of the faculty of medicine 1919-21, and subsequently dean of the faculty of dentistry. He was a member of the council of the university from 1895 to 1902 and 1919 to 1933. He was president of the South Australian branch of the British Medical Association in 1886-7 and 1914-19. For some years before his retirement from practice in 1919, he specialized in consultative work as a physician. He did not do much writing on medical subjects, but with E. C. Stirling (q.v.) wrote the article on hydatid disease in Allbutt's System of Medicine. "This not only collated the early literature, but was illuminated by the authors' personal experience of cases and at the time was recognized as a classic presentation of the subject" (British Medical Journal, 12 August 1933, p. 317). Quite early in his career, as president of the inter-colonial medical congress at Adelaide in 1887, Verco had delivered an address dealing mainly with the reaction of the Australian environment on the descendants of Europeans which attracted much notice.
Verco's interest in science was not confined to its medical side. He was elected a fellow of the Adelaide Philosophical Society, afterwards the Royal Society of South Australia in 1878. From a lad he had been interested in shells and he began his serious study of this subject in 1887. He did a large amount of dredging in the Great Australian Bight of much value to marine biology. His own collection of shells became a very fine one, and he had an excellent and valuable library of literature on the subject. This collection, including the books, was eventually presented to the South Australian museum, where Verco spent much time after his retirement as honorary conchologist. His general interest in the Royal Society was very great and he was an admirable president. First elected to that office in 1903 he was re-elected year by year until 1921 when he declined further nomination. But as vice-president or member of the council his connexion was maintained until his death on 29 July 1933. He started its research and endowment fund with the sum of £1000 in 1908, and on several other occasions gave financial aid when it was required. He was knighted in 1919. He married in 1911 Mary Isabella, daughter of Samuel Mills, who survived him. There were no children. A list of Verco's papers was published in the South Australian Naturalist for August 1933, and a list of the names of species of animals named after him will be found in the Transactions and Proceedings of the Royal Society of South Australia for 1933, p. VIII. In 1926 Verco gave £5000 to the university of Adelaide for the publication of results of researches in medical science, and under his will his considerable estate, subject to the life interest of his widow, was to be divided among philanthropic, religious, and scientific bodies.
Transactions and Proceedings Royal Society of South Australia, 1933; The Advertiser, Adelaide, 31 July 1933; The British Medical Journal, 1933, p. 317; The Lancet, 1933, p. 386; Burke's Peerage, etc., 1933.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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  • Joseph Cooke Verco — Sir Joseph Cooke Verco (August 1 1851 July 26 1933) was an Australian physician and conchologist.verco was a son of James Crabb Verco, and was born at Fullarton, South Australia. Both his parents came from Cornwall, England. He was educated at… …   Wikipedia

  • Verco — /ˈvɜkoʊ/ (say verkoh) noun Sir Joseph Cooke, 1851–1933, Australian physician, conchologist, and lecturer in medicine …  

  • 1933 in Australia — Infobox Australian year year = 1933 monarch = George V governor general = Isaac Isaacs pm =Joseph Lyons population = 6,629,839 australian = elections =SA, WA See also: 1932 in Australia, other events of 1933, 1934 in Australia and the Timeline of …   Wikipedia

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