Alfred Barrett Biggs was born on 10 Apr 1825, the eldest son of Abraham Edwin Biggs (1799-1875), builder and contractor, and his wife Eliza Coleman (1801-1891). Alfred was christened at the Wesleyan Chapel, Battle Bridge, London. He came to Hobart with his family in 1833 aboard the Sir John Rae Reid. He joined the Commercial Bank of Tasmania, but later became a teacher. He taught in Victoria and then Tasmania for 27 years. In 1880 he entered the Launceston Bank for Savings as accountant and head ledger-keeper.
Alfred married Harriet Burville (1834-1894) in Hobart on 22 Feb 1855. Their first five children were born in Melbourne. In Jan 1864 the family moved to Bothwell, Tasmania, to Campbell Town in 1871 and finally Launceston in 1880. Alfred had a fine bass voice and sang in the Exhibition Choir in 1891-92 with his children Walter and Alice who are also in the Album. He also displayed a coin tester which instantly detected counterfeit currency. His daughter May exhibited a watercolour 'Hawke and Pigeon'. Alfred Biggs died in Launceston on 19 Dec 1900. A memorial stone was erected in Royal Park in 1935 on the site of his observatory.
He was noted for setting up the first telephone connection in Australia between Launceston and Campbell Town and for his contributions to seismology, astronomy and music. His original telephones and seismological equipment are in Launceston's Queen Victoria Museum. His story is told in Margaret Giordano's Watcher of the skies, Regal Publications, Launceston, 1995, and John B Biggs' Tasmania over five generations: Return to Van Diemen's Land?, Forty Degrees South, 2011. See also The Examiner, 8 Oct 2005, page 26.