“The most devoted son of Wellington”1
Joseph Louis Bevir was an OW, having been in the Hardinge from 1870 and the winner of the Kingsley in 1874, the cross-country race still run annually at Wellington. He became an Assistant Master and later Housemaster of the eponymous Bevir’s House, later the Benson, and an author.
It is difficult to imagine a Wellington without the influence of Bevir, although at first glance many will not realise his impact. He is probably best known by Wellingtonians for his book on the early years of Wellington called “The Making of Wellington College; Being an Account of the First Sixteen Years of its Existence”. He went on to write several other books including Visitors Guides to Orvieto (1884) and then Siena and San Gimigniano (1885) and edited several other texts.
Whilst teaching at College he became a housemaster in the days when the Houses were named after their masters; the Benson was “Bevir’s House” for some twenty years.
During the First World War he was Vaughan’s Senior Assistant Master and even ran the school for a term in 1918 during Vaughan’s illness.
On retiring from the Senior Common Room, he helped found the OW Society, becoming Hon Secretary, President, and the first editor of the Year Book, a post he held for thirty years. “In 1885 he played a large part in the establishment and early organisation of the Wellington College Mission in Walworth (now the Crowthorne Trust)… and in the acquisition of the Derby Field” on behalf of fellow Lodge member Lord Derby.
It is in his memory that the Bevir Trust was founded, which today is largely used “to assist young OWs with the cost of character-developing and socially desirable projects”. Whilst in no way related to the Lodge other than as a beneficiary of our charitable distribution, every mason will appreciate the values of this mission and the Lodge has supported the Trust on many occasions.
Bevir was another member of Wellesley Lodge No 1899, but was only an Entered Apprentice, before joining the OW Lodge. We were fortunate indeed to have the privilege of passing and raising this son of Wellington.
He joined the Lodge in 1910 alongside 4 fellow brethren, a pair of 9th Lancers Lord Dorchester and Brigadier General Frederick Cavendish, Lt Col Patrick Stoney of the 26th Punjabis and brother of Thomas Stoney, and his fellow member of Senior Common Room The Revered William Brown.
1. A history of Wellington College, D Newsome. Pg 222