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Robert Dudley Baxter

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Robert Dudley Baxter (1827-1875)

1875 Obituary [1]

MR. ROBERT DUDLEY BAXTER, eldest son of Mr. Robert Baxter, solicitor, was born at Doncaster on the 3rd of February, 1827.

After the usual preliminary education he proceeded to Cambridge, where he graduated in 1849, coming out with both classical and mathematical honours.

On leaving the University he entered upon the study of the law, and in due time became a member of the firm of Baxter, Rose, and Norton, of which his father was the senior partner. Being of a remarkably active and energetic turn of mind, Mr. Dudley Baxter’s labours extended far beyond his professional engagements; and being also an ardent politician, he at an early period of his career took a prominent part in the polemics of the day. His first brochure was a pamphlet on the Volunteer Movement, which attracted much public attention.

It was not however until 1866 that he found an opportunity for the exercise of the peculiar analytical skill which he subsequently so frequently applied to statistics.

In that year he published a pamphlet with the object of exposing the fallacies of the returns laid before Parliament in support of Mr. Gladstone’s Reform Bills, and furnished tables of the redistribution of seats and the franchise returns of the boroughs.

In 1868 he contributed a work on 'The National Income,' which, though less known to the general public, has served as a storehouse of facts and figures to a large class.

In 1869 there followed an elaborate work on 'The Taxation of the United Kingdom;' in 1870 a history of 'English Parties and Conservatism;' and in 1871 a work on 'The National Debts of the Various States of the World.'

In 1873 he read before the Social Science Congress at Norwich a paper, which was in the following year published in an extended form, under the title of 'Local Government and Local Taxation;' he also supplemented a previous work by the publication of 'The Recent Progress in National Debts.'

From this enumeration it will be seen that Mr. Baxter was an incessant worker, his labours marking a mind capable of embracing extended literary pursuits whilst pursuing professional duties. He possessed, to a remarkable degree, the art of putting figures into an intelligible form, and was distinguished for the extreme accuracy of his tables.

The legal firm with which Mr. Baxter was connected being largely concerned for railways and other public enterprises, he was much in contact with engineers, by whom he was sincerely esteemed; he moreover took considerable interest in the commercial aspect of engineering works. A memoir on 'Railway Extension and its Results,' read in November 1866 before the Statistical Society, of which he was one of the foremost members, attracted considerable attention, it being, in fact, an epitomised history of inland communication during the present century, an& supplying useful and trustworthy forecasts of the effects of the extension of railways.

Shortly after the reading of this Paper, on the 4th of December, 1866, Mr. Baxter was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, he being already connected with various other scientific and literary societies. In politics a thorough Conservative, he for many years occupied himself busily in the registration and organization of his party in the West Riding of Yorkshire, where his loss is severely felt.

Some time before his death he experienced symptoms of valvular disease of the heart - an ailment to which it is said men of sedentary habits and intellectual proclivities are peculiarly liable - and wasted away, until he became in a few days but the shadow of his former self, finally succumbing to its effects on the 20th of May, 1875.

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