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John and Fanny THOMSON | by SandyEm
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John and Fanny THOMSON

Buried with his wife and parent in laws.



Died July 13th 1902

Aged 39 years

So loved so mourned





wife of above

Died 6th June 1925

Aged 59 years.


Fanny was the daughter of John and Sarah LISTER]

She committed suicide by cutting her throat. She had been suffering a nervous breakdown.


John was the manager of the New Brighton Tramway. The Christchurch City Council cemeteries database[1] lists him as being born in Scotland and in NZ for 20 years, however the Cyclopedia of NZ [4] printed 1902-03 states he was born in Riccarton, Christchurch. NZCNZ also has his portrait.





Some little sensation was caused at New 'Brighton on Monday when it became known that Mr John Thomson, for many years traffic manager for the New Brighton Tramway Company was missing. Mr Thomson was at business as usual on Saturday and went down to New Brighton by the eleven o'clock tram on Saturday night. He left the car just opposite Wyatts store and from that time has not been seen or heard of.


During yesterday a thorough search was made of the locality without result. In the evening, however, some fishermen stated that they had found a hat in the river just above the Tramway Bridge on Sunday morning. The hat on being produced was identified as that worn by Mr Thomson when last seen. The police were communicated with and a couple of constables were sent down from Christchurch this morning with drags to search the river.


Mr Thomson's body was found a few minutes before three o'clock, about a chain below the wharf at which the motor launch Tuariki is moored. The body was fully dressed, with the exception of the hat, which was found yesterday. The police took charge of the body as soon as it was discovered and arranged for its removal to the City Morgue. [2]




The inquest touching the death of John Thomson was held at the City Morgue, this afternoon, before Mr R. Beetham, Coroner, and a jury of six — Messrs R. W. Parker, J. Forwood, W. Buckley, J. M'Gee, C. Findlay and T. M. Ford. Mr Buckley was chosen foreman. Dr William Irving, duly qualified medical practitioner, stated that he had made a post mortem examination of the body of John Thomson. There were no external signs of violence. Death was due to drowning. On opening the stomach witness found a smell of alcohol, which showed that the deceased had been drinking before his death. The liver was enlarged, probably through the action of alcohol. Sub-Inspector Black produced a medical certificate, showing that Mrs Thomson was unable to attend.


John Wood stated that he knew the deceased, who was manager of the New Brighton Tramway Company. Witness last saw the deceased at 10.45 p.m. on Saturday last but did not speak to him. The deceased appeared then to be sober. He was generally temperate in his habits. Witness did not know that he had been drinking lately, nor did he know of his having had any financial troubles, or anything likely to cause him to commit suicide. George Henry Lister, guard on the New Brighton Tram stated that the deceased went down with him to New Brighton, on Saturday night, leaving town at about five minutes past eleven o'clock. Witness last saw deceased opposite Wyatt's store, where he got off the tram. The deceased was sober, and just the same as usual. He may have had some liquor and perhaps showed slight signs of its influence. Deceased was a man of temperate habits and witness had never seen him the worse for drink. Witness could not say whether he had been drinking at all heavily lately. To a juryman : Witness did not remember seeing deceased in Warners Hotel on Saturday night. John Robert Wakelin, a resident of New Brighton, stated that the deceased! drove the eleven tram to New Brighton on Saturday night, and got off opposite Wyatt's store. He appeared to be perfectly sober then.


William Bellamy, a coachbuilder, living at New Brighton, stated that he found a hat in the river about 10.15 a.m. on Sunday. It was about fifty yards north of the tramway bridge. Witness put the hat in the boat-shed, to await an owner. George Lister, re-called, said that the hat produced was very much like that worn by Thomson. Constable Flewellyn stated that, in consequence of information received, he searched the River Avon yesterday, and found the body of deceased about 200 yards below the Tramway Bridge. He searched the body, and found a number of articles, including a watch, which had stopped at ten minutes past twelve o'clock. Witness had seen Mrs Thomson, the wife of the deceased, who stated that her husband left home at about -eight o'clock on Saturday morning and did not return. He was in his usual spirits, bright and cheerful. He had had no domestic troubles. George Lister, re-called, stated that the tram arrived at New Brighton about ten minutes before midnight. The place where the deceased got off the tram was about half a mile from the river. Witness did not know of any business that would take deceased back to the river, unless he went to see a friend of his, who lived close by the river. The Coroner, in summing up, said that the matter appeared to be shrouded in mystery. There was only very slight evidence to show that the deceased had had any liquor. There was really nothing to show how the deceased got into the river, and it was not likely that any evidence would ever be obtainable. The jury, without retiring, returned) a verdict of “ Found drowned," there being, in their opinion, no evidence to show how the deceased came into the water.[3]


Flags at half mast in respect


John THOMSON was a member of the New Brighton Borough Council [3] and resigned in 1900[5]


This photograph is copyright. If you wish to purchase this photograph, please contact The secretary of The Friends of Linwood Cemetery Trust via their website


Please cite the link to the photo.

You will be supporting the good work that is carried out within the cemetery in their name.




Christchurch City Council Cemetery database






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Taken on January 1, 2010