In the year of the 140th anniversary of Northeast Health Wangaratta, hospital doctors have raised money to erect a headstone to honour the first appointed Medical Officer of the hospital.
Dr Benjamin Clay Hutchinson’s unmarked grave in the Wangaratta Cemetery was discovered recently, and a headstone has been erected to mark the 140th year.
Dr Benjamin Clay Hutchinson was born in Nottingham in 1834. He was the son of Richard Scholes Hutchinson and his wife Jane Innes Hadden. Benjamin was educated in London and trained in Edinburgh where he graduated MD in 1855.
He came to Victoria where he first practised in the Buckland Valley in 1857, and at the Ovens District Hospital in Beechworth. Dr Hutchinson bought an interest in a sheep station in Queensland in 1863, but due mainly to bad weather, this ventured proved to be unsuccessful.
He returned to Victoria to practise in Chiltern in 1869, and in 1873 in Wangaratta. Dr Hutchinson actively participated in the movement to establish the hospital in Wangaratta, and was on the initial building committee.
He was the first Medical Officer appointed when the hospital opened in 1872. He also had right of private practice and had the contract to attend the railway construction gangs.
He was well known for his cough mixture. Amongst his other duties, he is reported as having conducted post mortems, acted as a medical witness, acted as coroner, and removed bullets from patients on more than one occasion.
Together with Dr Nicholson from Benalla, he tended the wounded at the Glenrowan siege in June 1880, including Ned Kelly. He is purported to have souvenired human remains from the Glenrowan site and sent them to England.
Dr Benjamin Clay Hutchinson married Jane Farrell on 14 November 1870 in Wangaratta – he was thirty six, she was sixteen. They had three sons: Richard Charles born in 1876, Benjamin Innes born in 1883, and John born and died 1885.
Dr Hutchinson sailed with his wife and son on the Cathay for Bombay and England in 1881. He resumed practice in Wangaratta in December 1881. It was not long before the family moved to Dalgety Street, St Kilda in 1882, where his second son was born.
He was a past president of the Wangaratta Cricket Club and also enjoyed rifle shooting. Dr Hutchinson was also a Past Master of the Order of Freemasons and his burial at the Wangaratta Cemetery was conducted with Masonic honours.
Dr Hutchinson died in Wangaratta on 5 January 1895.