10 July 2014

Finding Thomas J Thompson

Thomas J Thompson was married to Mary Ann Wilkey, the sister of my great grandfather, James Arthur Wilkey. Mary Ann was born in 1864 in Canterbury, married Thomas in Burrowa (Boorowa) in 1885, and died on 29 April 1937 in Bankstown. They had seven children (I think), and lived in Railway Parade, Thornleigh in 1906 when their eldest daughter Ada died, aged 20 (SMH, 23 July 1906).

Apart from knowing where he was married, and where they lived when Ada died, I could find nothing on Mary Ann Wilkey's husband Thomas J Thompson. Nothing on his birth, no date of death, nor where he was buried - he wasn't buried with Mary Ann, who was buried at Rookwood Cemetery with her parents, John and Mary Ann Wilkey. I suspected from family death/funeral notices, including his own wife's, that he had died before her, but had no actual proof.

I searched and searched. I didn't know what he did for work, so that didn't help. Days later, it suddenly occurred to me that I knew that Thomas and Mary Ann's daughter Ada was buried in Rookwood as well - perhaps if he wasn't buried with his wife then maybe he was buried with his daughter. BINGO!

Thomas John Thompson was buried in the Methodist section of Rookwood Cemetery, with his daughter Ada May. He was interred on 1 July 1911, and the record notes he was 49 years old. From his date of interment I could look more accurately for a death record, and from his age at death I knew he was born in about 1862. I was completely unprepared for what I found in Trove (Barrier Miner, 1 July 1911):

An utter tragedy, compounded by the fact that Mary Ann's own father, John Wilkey, had died earlier that year (15 Jan 1911), and one of her brothers, James Arthur Wilkey, had been killed in another freak accident four years earlier. I can imagine Mary Ann at home, getting dinner ready, waiting for Thomas to get home from work, the time getting later and later, until there was a knock at the door...

However, putting aside the awful story of Thomas' death, I also learnt that Thomas was born in Victoria and was a bricklayer. I don't know if he was a bricklayer all his life, or just did different labouring jobs over the years. I've had a brief look at the Victorian BDM, but there's a few candidates that could be Thomas' birth (though only as Thomas Thompson - there's no Thomas J or Thomas John Thompson in the right range of years). I'm too cheap to go looking through them all, and I'm not sure I'd be able to work out which one he was anyway.

So that's a little about Thomas John Thompson. Not much, but more than I knew before.


  1. isn't it great when things come together - and all because our minds suddenly take a lateral turn. I loved how you made it real that his wife would have been waiting for him at home. have to admit it was a pretty silly thing to have done, cross Parramatta Rd like that...with fatal consequences.

    1. I like to make the people real - after all, they lived and died, had hopes and dreams like we all do.