The Tragic Fatality at Lower House Farm Part 3

Welcome to Part 3, of the truly remarkable story of the Tragic Fatality at Lower House Farm, if you haven’t read Parts 1 and 2 the links are here:

Part 1

Part 2

From one original newspaper report, I have managed to uncover an extraordinary story, that has continued to grow and amaze me, as each layer is revealed.

This time I would like to tell you about what happened after the tragic shooting and how it affected those directly involved, what they did after and how they coped in the aftermath of such a tragedy. As you can imagine following such a devastating accident, the repercussions were felt throughout the family and will definitely have played a part in some of the events that followed.

The family were torn apart after the tragic shooting of poor little Alfred Gregson, we can only speculate about what happened between Frances Wootton and her Brother William. Did they ever speak again? Was this the sole reason that Arthur took his family to the other side of the World?

So whatever happened to the Gregson Family that emigrated to New Zealand, I here you ask?

Well lets take a couple of steps back first, before we reach New Zealand.

Arthur Gregson and his second Wife, Frances Mary Gregson (nee Wootton) and their Daughter Kathleen Lydia Gregson, first emigrated to India in pursuit of Arthur’s work as a Mill Foreman. I have a record of Arthur travelling aboard the Vessel Elysia, from Liverpool to Bombay, on 25th April 1924, with his Wife, Frances Gregson. Although there is no record for their Daughter Kathleen Lydia travelling with them, we know from oral testimony, that she did indeed travel to India with them. On the passenger list, Arthur Gregson is listed as a Mill Foreman and the family address is given as 27, Balfour Street, Alloa, Scotland.

Prior to this move to India, there is also a document from 1920-21, that shows a valuation roll for Clackmannan County in Alloa, which lists Arthur Gregson living at 27, Balfour Street, Alloa and again Arthur is listed as a Mill Foreman and is listed as a tenant occupier. There are no further listings in the Valuation Rolls for Scotland for Arthur available online to view, but we know that he is still listed as living at the same address in Alloa, when he set sail for India in 1924.

Oral testimony also states that the Gregson Family owned their own Woollen Mill in Leicestershire and I have confirmed that Arthur’s Father, Alfred Gregson and all his Sons, Emanuel, Arthur himself, Edward, Henry and William, all worked in various rolls, within the Leicester Woollen and Worsted Mills. I was able to also confirm that the eldest Son, Emanuel, did in fact own several businesses associated with the Woollen Industry in the Leicester area, including a Mill.

Prior to carrying out this research I was not aware of the significance and subtle differences between a traditional Woollen Mill and a Worsted Mill.

The term “Woollen” is used to describe a particular class of fabrics, often called “Carded Woollen”, to differentiate them from “Worsted” fabrics which are manufactured by a different process and usually in a separate set of mills. Although the manufacture of
both Woollen and Worsted goods is commonly thought of as a single industry, there are clear differences between the two.

Under magnification, Worsted yarns look smooth with long fibres, and Woollen yarns are much hairier, with lots of short fibres and rougher strands. Worsted wools are slick when woven and can be knitted, crocheted, or woven into softer, fabrics.

Arthur worked for Patons Woollen Mills in Alloa in Scotland originally and it was whilst working for them, that he transferred to Patons Woollen Mills in Bombay. Whilst in India Arthur encountered a staffing shortage at the Mill, so he employed people who were at the Mill Gate, who were willing to work. This caused some consternation, as some of those he employed were ‘the untouchables’. His response to the powers that be and other objectors was, ‘leave your religion at the gate on entry and pick it up again when you leave.’ Whilst in India he was also a member of the Bombay Kennel Club and Arthur’s Dog Won many Medals and Trophies.

Gt Aunt Fan, Arthur & Kit

(Frances Mary Gregson, Arthur Gregson, Kathleen Lydia Gregson)

From here the family then moved to Australia for a short period and lived in Melbourne, before finally settling in Milton, in Dunedin, in New Zealand. Below is a Passenger list for the Vessel Maheno which documents the families arrival in Sydney on the 18th December 1924, from New Zealand. This could have been a temporary assignment, difficult to say, but ultimately the Family move from England to India and then to Australia, before making New Zealand their final home.

Gregson Family Emigration

A further Passenger list dated 13th April 1934 on the Vessel Ballarat, sailing from London to Australia shows passengers Frances Mary Gregson and Kathleen Lydia Gregson, travelling from Lower House, Byford, Herefordshire. They had obviously travelled home at some point, the reason we can’t be sure, Frances Mother had passed away in 1931 and her Father passed away in 1950, so it wasn’t to say a final farewell to her parents. Maybe it was a reconciliation with her Brother William after all these years? We will never know the reason for the visit.

Frances and Kathleen Gregson Passenger List

There is also a further passenger list for Arthur Gregson dated 24th November 1934 documenting him sailing aboard the Vessel Baradine, sailing from London to Australia. On this document Arthur is listed as a Worsted Mill Manager and his last address listed as Garnons, Bramstone Lane, Leicester. So we can say for sure that the Gregson family were together again in Melbourne, Australia, by the end of 1934.

Arthur Gregson London to Australia

In 1936 The family can be found on the electoral roll for the area of North Melbourne which lists the Gregson family at their home at their home of 51, Fitzgibbon Street, Parkville, Flemington, Melbourne. Arthur is listed as a Manager, his Wife Frances is listed as carrying out home duties and their Daughter, Kathleen is listed as a clerk. By 1937 the family had moved to 171, Howard Street, North Melbourne, Arthur was still a Manager at the Mill, Kathleen was still working as a clerk and Frances was still taking care of the family home.

Arthur Gregson Australia Electoral Rolls 1936

(1936 Electoral Register)

Arthur Gregson Australia Electoral Rolls 1937

(1937 Electoral Register)

Arthur Gregson Australia Electoral Roll 1937

(1937 Electoral Register)

By the end of the 1930’s, early 1940’s, Arthur and his family made their final move and settled in Milton, New Zealand, Arthur again moving to run a Worsted Mill. The most likely Mill would be The Bruce Woollen Manufacturing Company Limited, Milton, Otago

Whilst working in the Mill in New Zealand, if Arthur saw something wrong, his bellow was so loud, that it could be heard above the noise of the machines! He was also the first White Man to employ Maori girls in the Mill. Maori girls were traditionally employed as domestic helps or as manual workers, but Arthur went against the norm and gave those willing to work, a chance at his Mill, a pioneer of workers equal rights across the Globe, from India to New Zealand!

Arthur played a very active part in his local Community and was in fact a ‘Lay Reader’ in the local Anglican Church and had a wonderful singing voice and he could recite poetry. He was also an active member of the local Masonic Lodge.

There are a number of newspaper entires in the Otago Daily Times in the 1940’s that show some of The Gregson Families activities within the local community.

Gregson Newspapers 1A

Gregson Newspapers 1B

Gregson Newspapers 2

Gregson Newspapers 3A

Gregson Newspapers 3B

Gregson Newspapers 4A

Gregson Newspapers 4B

By now, I am sure that you are beginning to think that Arthur’s luck had turned the corner and that Family life for Arthur, Frances and Kathleen had settled into a a nice steady routine, but once again fate dealt Arthur two more cruel blows, when he lost his Daughter Kathleen and his Wife Frances within four years of each other.

Sadly Kathleen died on 24th August 1948, aged just 35,  at her parents home in Jura Street, Milton, she had contracted Rheumatic Fever as a small child and as a consequence she suffered throughout her life. Kathleen was Cremated at Milton, Otago on 26th August 1948 and this entry appeared in The Otago Daily Times, dated 25th August 1948.

“Gregson – On August 24th, 1948 at her parents residence, Jura Street, Milton. Kathleen Lydia (Kit), the dearly loved Daughter of Arthur and Frances Gregson – The Funeral will leave St. John’s Anglican Church , Milton, on Thursday, 26th inst. at conclusion of the service commencing at 1pm sharp, for the Anderson’s Bay Crematorium – J.R. Wilson, Funeral Directors, Milton.

Kathleen Lydia Gregson Death

Kathleen Lydia Gregson Cremation 1

So who was Kathleen Lydia Gregson? For those of you who have been following and paying attention, I haven’t mentioned her Birth yet, or where she came from.

My initial assumption was that the couple had conceived a child whilst living in New Zealand, but no record existed. My next thought was that they must have had the Child in the UK before emigrating to New Zealand, but again no record existed. I then jumped back to Arthur Gregson’s first Marriage to Jeanie Smith Ritchie Sneddon and tried that, but again no record existed in either Scotland or England. So where did I look next?  My next search was for a Kathleen Lydia Wootton, and I found one result, Kathleen Lydia Wootton, born on 20th October 1913 in Islington, London, the illegitimate Daughter of Frances Mary Wootton. She was Born at the home of her Aunt, Catherine Isabella Wootton and the Father’s identity remains unknown, although the Father could have even been Arthur, but we will never know.

Kathleen Lydia Wootton Birth

Kathleen Lydia Wootton’s name changed and she became Kathleen Lydia Gregson and was a very much loved member of the Family, being known by the name ‘Kit’ by everyone.

A further cruel blow was to follow soon after Kit had passed away, when Arthur’s Wife Frances, died from Cancer on 20th January 1952 and she was cremated at Milton, Otago, New Zealand on 23rd January 1952.

Frances Mary Gregson Crmeation

Gt Aunt Frances Mary Wootton

(Frances Mary Wootton)

Arthur was then to Marry for a third time and it was maybe at this point that Arthur found his luck had finally changed. He Married Margaret Eunice McCulloch and they went on to have three children and Arthur even had the pleasure, despite being senior in years, to see a Grandchild born.

There are a number of Electoral Rolls dated from 1946 through to 1972 that show Arthur was still living in the same house at 5, Jura Street, Milton, Otago, New Zealand, throughout this time.

Arthur Gregson died 2nd July 1977, aged 91 and was Cremated 5th July 1977 at Milton (formerly Tokomairiro), Otago, New Zealand, his last place of residence was 5, Jura Street, Milton, Otago, New Zealand.

Arthur Gregson Cremation 1

So let us rewind back to the start of the blog, who are the people in the picture on the front of this blog, I hear you asking and what is the significance of the Photo?

Tom, Bill & Arthur

The Man seated is Arthur Gregson, the man standing on the left is Thomas Wootton and the man on the right is William Wootton, both Brothers of Frances Mary Wootton. The picture is obviously a Wedding Day picture and given that Arthur is seated and flanked by his Bride Frances’ two Brothers, it’s extremely likely, that it’s taken at the Wedding of Arthur and Frances on 3rd June 1916. How awful that tragedy was to strike so soon after this happy occasion.

There is still one more part of the story to tell, one more mystery to unravel, one more twist in this story, of course there had to be.

So let me take you right back to the beginning, before even little Alfred Arthur Gregson was born, back before the shooting had happened and just after Arthur Married his first Wife, Jeanie Smith Ritchie Sneddon. Are you still following?

Remarkably there was another child, born before little Alfred, named Jeanie McCleod Gregson and she was Born on 23rd September 1910, back in Leicester, Arthur’s home town. So whatever happened to Jeanie McCleod Gregson I hear you all asking?………….I’m afraid that will have to wait until Part 4 to find out…………..

I would like to say a special thank Anne Teesdale, for the wonderful pictures that you see here and also ‘Genie Friend’ Margaret Bailey for her wonderful help with locating New Zealand records and resources.

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8 thoughts on “The Tragic Fatality at Lower House Farm Part 3

  1. Enjoyable to read the next chapter in the story. Arthur appears to be a Nan of great integrity. I wondered whether he and Frances thought Kathleen would be better off in a warmer climate if she had delicate health.
    I have a few death certificates for ancestors who died of heart conditions in their 50s. Interesting that diseases like rheumatic fever (and probably others too!) could affect the heart long term. Perhaps this was the cause of their early death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jude, there is still a lot more to come with this story, especially the journey of the mystery first child. I think they moved for a number of reasons, work related, health related definitely a valid reason and of course the tragedy that befell them. Some of the causes of death can be really interesting in terms of the social lifestyles that people were living in at the time. We must be grateful for the wonders of the vaccinations now as well.

      Liked by 2 people

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