William Bill GREGORY , 18391931 (aged 91 years)

Name
William /GREGORY/
Given names
William
Surname
GREGORY
Nickname
Bill
Residence

His parents were residing here at time of his birth.

Christening

William was christened by the Venerable William Cowper in the old church which lasted from 1798 to 1856. This church was built on what is now Lang Park opposite the current church. Rev. William Cowper laid the foundation stone for the existing church on 1 May, 1848.

Occupation

At the time of his marriage.

Occupation

The Death Certificate of his son, Edwin Francis Gregory states that his father's occupation was a carpenter

Property

The mortagee, The Great Northern Permanent Building Society sold the property at auction to Mrs James Fewins for the sum of £116. Mrs. Fewins was William's mother-in-law. This was clearly an exercise of keeping the house in the family.

Insolvency

While Newcastle experienced rapid growth between 1860 and 1900 as a result of the increased demand for coal and the growth of manufacturing industries, there were periods of economic downturn which tended to hit the building industry first. Robert Barker Cropley and Longworth who have both obtained judgements against me". Documents submitted to the court, dated 15th January 1879, state that his house at The Junction, which was mortgaged to the The Great Northern Permanent Building Investment and Loan Society, was sold at auction on 16th November 1878 to a Mrs James Fewins for the sum of £116.

Insolvency

On 19th March 1887, the NSW Supreme Court in Insolvency issued a warrant for the Sheriff's Office to seize William's possessions and assets.

Insolvency

The whole of the goods and chattels are under absoluted Bill of Sale to Robert Blanch of Raymond Terrace for £40 dated 4th May 1886 registered in the Supreme Court Sydney on 7th May 1886.

Occupation

It seems that William was contemplating a career outside the building industry in the 1890's. In 1892 he applied for and was granted, a certificate of trade mark for a product which he called Gregory's Native Ointment. The Trade Mark included directions for use to relieve sore eyes, itching and inflammation of sores. How far along the way to production the ointment came is not known.

Golden Wedding

NMH 4 Nov 1911 page 11 Golden Wedding At their residence Farqhar St Junction on Saturday October 28, a very pleasant family gathering took place, the occasion being the golden wedding of Mr and Mrs William GREGORY. Mr and Mrs ALLISON and Mr and Mrs CASE old friends of the family, also attended. Mr and Mrs GREGORY who have been residents of The Junction for over forty years, have reared a family of five sons and five daughters (all married) and all of whom were able to be present. Mr ALLISON proposed the health of Mr and Mrs Gregory which was supported by Mr CASE. Mr Albert GREGORY, eldest son, suitably responded on behalf of his father and mother, and presented them with a purse of sovereigns subscribed by the family.

Military

William belonged to a volunteer military company for 20 years and attempted to enlist for Worl War I at over seventy. Nedless to say, his application was rejected.

However, he did make himself useful by doing free building repairs for women whose husbands had been killed at the front.

Residence

This was the original Gregory family house in Newcastle. The house required demolishing following the Newcastle earthquake of 1989.

Death

This was the original Gregory family house in Newcastle.

Death

Informant was stated as G.E. Hamilton, who was his grand daughter of 17 Farquhar Street, Hamilton. The medical attendant was stated as: Jas. G. Thompson, Registered. It is stated that he last saw William alive on 14 February. This was three days before his death.

Note

William Gregory [1839-1931]

Greville's A to Z for Newcastle [1872] listed William Gregory as a carpenter of Burwood, The Junction. The most comprehensive public records relating to the life of William Gregory are the papers held in the New South Wales State Archives at Kingswood regarding bankruptcy proceedings in 1878 and 1887.

While a good deal of conjecture surrounds the life of his father, the life of William Gregory born in Sydney in 1839 is more reliably documented. William married Ann Aggett Fewins on 30th October 1861. She had been born in South Tawton, Devon, in 1843 and migrated to New South Wales with her parents on Sir George Seymour in 1852. Her father was a lime quarry man and her mother was a dressm~er, according to the 1851 census for Devon. She had two younger brothers, James and Richard.

While Newcastle experienced rapid growth between 1860 and 1900 as a result of the increased demand for coal and the growth of manufacturing industries, there were periods of economic downturn which tended to hit the building industry first. Whether William Gregory was the victim of slumps in the building trade or the victim of his own mismanagement, or both, is difficult to say. In a petition to the NSW Supreme Court In IInsolvency, dated 20th December 1878, William Gregory stated that, "I attribute the cause of my insolvency to losses sustained in business and pressure of two creditors Robert Barker Cropley and Longworth who have both obtained judgements against me". Documents submitted to the court, dated 15th January 1879, state that his house at The Junction, which was mortgaged to the The Great Northern Permanent Building Investment and Loan Society, was sold at auction on 16th November 1878 to a Mrs James Fewins for the sum of £116. As William was married to Ann Fewins, daughter of the Mrs James Fewins, this was clearly an exercise of keeping the house in the family. Another piece of land owned by William Gregory with a house which he had built was sold to his sister-in-law, Amelia Parkes in 1878. On The Insolvent's Balance Sheet, William's debt to unsecured creditors was listed as £535.11.6. The total value of his assets was put at £17. Thus he was declared bankrupt and the creditors were left seriously out of pocket.

Despite this business set back, William was building again by January 1885 and renting the house which Amelia Parkes had bought from him. He had failed to obtain a discharge from his insolvency and was soon running up substantial debts. This resulted in another round of legal proceedings brought by his creditor, Robert Breckinridge. Breckinridge claimed that he was owed £585.12.5 for building materials supplied to William Gregory.

William had obtained this credit by claiming to own a house at The Junction, which he said was worth between four and five hundred pounds. When a Promissory Note was dishonoured, Breckinridge discovered that William didn't own the house at all. As a result, on 19th March 1887, the NSW Supreme Court in Insolvency issued a warrant to the Sheriffs Office to seize William's possessions and assets.

On taking possession of the contents of the house at The Junction, the sheriff submitted an inventory of the items seized. This inventory gives an insight into the home of William and his ten children. The home had three bedrooms. William and Ann's room had a double iron bedstead, a chest of drawers, a sewing machine table, a sofa and a washstand. It was the only room in the house with carpet and curtains. The second bedroom had a double iron bedstead and a child's bed, a chest of drawers and a rocking chair. It had blinds and oil cloth on the floor. The third bedroom had two double beds, one iron and one wooden, and a chest of drawers. There was nothing on the floor and no blinds. There was a dining room with a table and five chairs, 2 sofas and a sewing machine. It also had oil cloth on the floor. There was a side room with a table, sofa and three chairs. The kitchen had a table and three chairs, one stool and a dresser containing crockery and cooking utensils. Outside was a wash house and a shed containing William's tools and other building equipment.

The inventory concluded with the interesting note that, "The whole of the foregoing goods and chattels are under absolute Bill of Sale to Robert Blanch of Raymond Terrace for £40 dated 4th May 1886 registered in Supreme Court Sydney 7th May 1886." Had William disposed of all his worldly goods in order to meet the demands of his creditors? No. Having sold his property to his mother-in-law and his sister-in-law in order to frustrate the creditors in 1878, he had now "sold" all his goods to his wife's brother-in-law as a means of dodging his creditors for a second time. This ruse did not go unnoticed by the court which called for a report into the matter.

In his response to the report, William lodged a deposition which had been sworn on 9th Apri11887. He claimed that he owed his brother-in-law £40 and settled the debt by giving him a Bill of Sale over all his goods and chattels, having no idea whatsoever that his creditors might seek a sequestration order against him. As to the matter of making false and misleading statements in order to get credit from Robert Beckinridge, William claimed that it must have been a misunderstanding. He claimed that he told Breckinridge that his wife had an interest in a property and that the credit was obtained on that basis. He could not be held responsible if his wife refused Breckinridge's request to sign a deed over the property. William also claimed that he had not been hiding any cash from his creditors as his only source of income had been ten shillings a day as labourer: "I had to support my wife and ten children at the time out of my daily wages".

Apart from Robert Breckinridge, everyone else who gave evidence had some family connection with William Gregory. The building supplies originally obtained from Breckingridge were approved by his manager, George Hookway, who was brother-in-law of William's sister, Elizabeth. While George may have had divided loyalties in the case, he did support his employer's assertion that, when William was asked to pay his account of £138, a property at The Junction was offered as security for the debt and further credit. William claimed that the £40 he received from his wife's brother-in-law, Robert Blanch, had been spent by his wife on household items. Ann Gregory supported her husband's story and said that no demand had been made by Blanch to hand the furniture over to him. William claimed to be renting the furniture for eight shillings a week. He also denied that he owned a farm at Cabbage Tree or that he had provided the cash for Robert Blanch to buy 100 acres at Cabbage Tree. Although William had built "five or six small houses on the racecourse", a house at the Glebe and one at Hamilton, all of which were completed by April 1886, he claimed that all the material he had got from Breckinridge had been used and that he had had no further income from building since then. William's sister-in-law, Amelia Parker, testified that William didn't own any property and rented a house belonging to her, which she had bought off him in 1878. However she stated that she had no knowledge of any bill of sale over the furniture in the house. Whether or not William Gregory could be considered as a master builder, he appears to have been a master of escaping his creditors. He was certainly suspiciously blessed in having cashed-up in-laws to relieve him of assets before the creditors could get them. William's mother-in-law died in 1888, apparently leaving the house which she bought in 1878 to William's wife, Ann.

It seems that William was contemplating a career outside the building industry in the 1890s. In 1892 he applied for, and was granted, a certificate of trade mark for a product which he called Gregory's Native Ointment. The trade mark included directions for use to relieve sore eyes, itching and inflammation of sores. How far along the way to production the ointment came is not known.

In 1911, William and Ann celebrated their golden wedding anniversary and the following item appeared in the Newcastle Morning Herald on 4th November;

Golden Wedding At their residence Farquhar St Junction on Saturday October 28, a very pleasant family gathering took place, the occasion being the golden wedding of Mr and Mrs William GREGORY. Mr and Mrs ALLISON and Mr and Mrs CASE old friends of the family, also attended. Mr and Mrs GREGORY who have been residents of The Junction for over forty years, have reared a family of five sons and five daughters (all married) and all of whom were able to be present. Mr ALLISON proposed the health of Mr and Mrs Gregory which was supported by Mr CASE. Mr Albert GREGORY, eldest son, suitably responded on behalf of his father and mother, and presented them with a purse of sovereigns subscribed by the family.

William was active in the Anglican Church. The Federal Directory of Newcastle and District for 1901, lists William as a lay representative for the Parish of Merewether on the Twelfth Synod of the Diocese of Newcastle held in May 1900. According to an article in the Newcastle Morning Herald, which was published on the occasion of his 60th wedding anniversary, he was a church warden and synod representative of the Anglican Church of St Augustine of Canterbury for twelve years. The church opened in 1889, as a gift of Edward Merewether. Prior to the opening of St Augustine's, William's family had attended St John's at Cooks Hill, where William had been superintendent of the Sunday School for a number of years. Nine of William's ten children were married at St. Augustine's. He was also apparently on good terms with Newcastle's Bishop Stanton and had a standing invitation to stay at Bishop's Court whenever he visited Morpeth.

The minute books of St Augustine's for the 1890s show William involved in the life of the church as a member of the Parochial Council and of the Brotherhood of St Andrew. The Brotherhood was a men's group established in 1895. It folded through want of attendance, one meeting having only William and the rector present. He apparently missed the group, as the Parish Minutes for 1896 show William expressing the view that "he would like to see occasional meetings for spiritual conversation".[7 April 1896] Apart from numerous motions moved or seconded by William regarding the usual parish council matters such as the bazaar, stipends, church maintenance, the development of the grounds and the inevitable workings bees, there is 'an example of William using his professional talents. The minutes for 4 September 1897 state, "Mr Gregory submitted a plan for a parsonage for the consideration of the council but owing to such small attendance it was thought advisable to call a special meeting to consider it". A meeting was held on 25 September at which the following motions were passed:

That the council approve Mr Gregory's plan and are of the opinion that a fund should be at once started for the purpose. That a conference between the Parochial Council and the Ladies' Committee be held to confer on the parsonage scheme.

William was elected as one of the two Synod Representatives for the church on a number of occasions. While he was a highly respected member of the church, his election prospects were not harmed by having Albert, John, Harry, Frank, William and Richard Gregory on the church roll to vote for him.

As William's mother, Sarah, had been accompanied to Sydney in 1837 by a Rev Sowerby from Cumbria, it is interesting to note that Joseph Sowerby, who had emigrated from Cumbria, and his children were prominent members of St Augustine's Church. Joseph Sowerby, was the superintendent of the St Augustine's Church Sunday School from 1891 until his death in 1918, whereupon his son, Stanley, took over. Stanley was also the assistant organist.! A Miss Sowerby was also a friend of William's children.

At the time of his 60th wedding anniversary it was said of William that he had not made money over the years. There was a story that he had been offered a large amount of land at Wickham for two pounds an acre, to which he is supposed to have replied, "Do you think I'm mad to buy an old swamp?" It was said that William's wealth was in his children.

William belonged to a volunteer military company for 20 years and attempted to enlist for World War I at over seventy. Needless to say, his application was rejected. However, he did make himself useful by doing free building repairs for women whose husbands had been killed at the front. His grandson, Allan McNaughton, made a notable war effort at the age of five, by collecting £230 for the war chest, dressed as a soldier. Ann Gregory was noted for her efforts in knitting and sewing for the troops. For a large Australian family, it may seem surprising that none enlisted in World War I. The simple explanation is that William's sons were too old and his grandsons too young.

Ann died on 29 March 1930. Her Will left the house at 17 Farquhar Street, The Junction to William, but on the proviso that when he died, it be sold and divided equally among their children. Probate valued the house at £550. Ann's only other asset was a life inSurance policy of £6.15.0. William didn't have long to enjoy his regained status as a homeowner, as he died less than a year later, on 17 February 1931.

As William had stated in his deposition of 9 April 1887, he did indeed have ten children. However, the proposition that he was supporting them all on ten shillings a day is probably stretching the truth. Since there was no such person as a "teenager" in 1887, and five of his children were of an employable age, that is, over 14, it is hard to imagine that none of them was making a contribution to the family income. William's oldest son, Albert, was also a carpenter and would have been able to earn at least ten shillings a day himself. So what became of these ten children? There were in fact eleven children, but the second child, Claude, bqrn in January 1865, died six months later. He was later usually referred to as "poor Claude'. The surviving ten children were Sarah [1863], Albert [1866], Richard [1868], William [1870], Harry [1872], Edwin [1874], Edith [1876], Annie [1878], Eva [1880] and Aimee [1885].