I am grateful to Margaret [Cumpston] Spencer for this piece about her great grand father
George William Cumpston, born 28 May 1852 in the Great Australian Bight, was only a few days old when his parents, who had emigrated from England, landed in Melbourne. When he was almost sixteen years old he left the Wesleyan School at Emerald Hill to become a clerk in a Melbourne establishment.
Active in the Wesleyan Church, he met there and married on 29 May 1876 another active member, Elizabeth Newman. They had six children, three of whom died, not an uncommon occurrence in those days when children died from diseases which are curable or preventable today. The three who survived were Amy, Howard (Dr. J.H.L.Cumpston) and Annie (Mrs Percy Wilson). At the time of Howard's birth city streets were lit by gas, doctors rode on horseback to see their patients and even on occasion wore top hats and frock coats into the operating theatre.
In 1882 the family moved to Box Hill, and some happy years ensued. George was then a commercial traveller for Sargood's in Melbourne. He travelled continuously all over Victoria and into the Riverina, as far away as Hay and Deniliquin, mostly in various types of horse-drawn vehicles.
Then the happy years came to an end. A land boom in Victoria which had encouraged George to mortgage his house and buy three others was followed by a crash. Banks closed and George lost his position with Sargood's when they discharged almost all their staff. Hard times followed and the family moved several times, to Toorak, Brighton and Kew, but eventually George most honourably managed to pay his creditors in full.
When he was almost eighty years of age he left home to cross the street and post a letter in a mailbox which stood nearby, but failed to see or hear a motor cycle passing a stationary tram. The collision inflicted fatal injuries and George died the following day, 16 November 1931.
See: Spencer M, John Howard Lidgett Cumpston, 1880-1954, a Biography, self¬published in a limited edition of 100 copies. I think the Wellcome Museum, London has a copy of this.