Cumpston Research

The best products at the best prices!

Watson Cumpston death cert Trinity House Hull lloyds ship Voilier withernsea pier

Gladys Maeva Cumpston nee Walpole

Walpole, Gladys Maeva (1887 - 1975) married to John Howard Lidgett CUMPSTON (1880-1954).  John was my 3rd cousin 2 x removed.


(see details of their children at the foot of the page).


Birth: 31 May 1887, Rosedale, Victoria, Australia Gladys Maeva Walpole

Death: 18 June 1975, Red Hill, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia


Cultural Heritage: English and Irish

Religious Influence: Presbyterian

Occupation: community worker , horticulturist , Voluntary Aid Detachment personnel.


CUMPSTON, GLADYS MAEVA (1887-1975), community worker, gardener and Braille transcriber, was born on 31 May 1887 at Rosedale, Victoria, second of five children of George Albert Walpole, a medical practitioner from Ireland, and his London-born wife Margaret, née Andrews, a nurse. As a child Gladys lived with relations in London and Ireland while her brother Stanley attended boarding-school in England and their parents remained in Australia. Reunited in 1895, the family lived first in Melbourne and then in turn at Strahan, Queenstown and Gormanston, Tasmania. Gladys was educated mainly by governesses, but also briefly attended Shirley College, Brighton Beach, and Presbyterian Ladies' College, Melbourne.


In 1905 Gladys travelled to Dublin, planning to become a nurse, but she found the training disappointing and returned to Australia. On 2 January 1908 she married a family friend John Howard Lidgett Cumpston at St John's Anglican Church, Fremantle, Western Australia. Having lived in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, the Cumpstons moved to Canberra in 1928.


They built Greystones, renowned for its excellent garden, in Wilmot Crescent, Forrest. A life member of the Horticultural Society of Canberra, Mrs Cumpston regularly exhibited in its shows, winning the Ormond Cup in 1936 and the Lady Gowrie Challenge Cup in 1949. In the 1960s Gladys was an active member of the Society for Growing Native Plants. She also made artificial flowers of stiffened and shaped silk and velvet, a skill learned in the 1950s at St Martin's School of Art, London.


In 1943 she had helped the Canberra Mothercraft Society to gain Lady Gowrie's patronage for the establishment of the Canberra Nursery Kindergarten Society and was a vice-president on both the provisional committee and the first elected council. During World War II Gladys was prominent in the Voluntary Aid Detachments, the Lady Gowrie Services Club, Manuka, and the Australian Red Cross Society; she single-handedly raised over £700 for charity by the sale of home-grown flowers at the Hotel Canberra. She also made camouflage nets, draping them across the fireplace in her home and inviting visitors to add to them. The Cumpstons joined the Canberra and District Historical Society as foundation members (1953). In addition to accompanying her husband on his trips abroad, she also helped him to trace the journeys of early Australian explorers. Following Howard's death in 1954, she promoted the posthumous publication of his historical research.


In her seventies and eighties Gladys transcribed fiction, non-fiction and school texts into Braille with the aid of a primer from the Royal National Institute for the Blind and a Stainsby machine. After she had completed fifty volumes (including books by her daughter Mrs Margaret Spencer) the Queensland Braille Writing Association recorded her name on its honour board. Gladys's correspondence with her family contains fascinating descriptions of Canberra. Survived by three sons and four daughters, she died on 18 June 1975 at Red Hill and was cremated.


Select Bibliography


H. Crisp and L. Ruddock, The Mothering Years (Canb, 1979); Canberra and District Historical Society, Newsletter, Aug 1975; M. Spencer, John Howard Lidgett Cumpston, C.M.G., M.D., D.P.H (Tenterfield, New South Wales, 1987); Canberra Nursery Kindergarten Society (Canberra, 1945); Ina Mary Cumpston papers (National Library of Australia); private information.


Print Publication Details: Jill Waterhouse, 'Cumpston, Gladys Maeva (1887 - 1975)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, Melbourne University Press, 1993, p. 543.


Children of Gladys Maeva CUMPSTON and John Howard Lidgett CUMPSTON


John Stanley CUMPSTON; Howard Bruce CUMPSTON; Alan George CUMPSTON

Dora Margaret CUMPSTON (Mrs. Margaret Spencer); Ina Mary CUMPSTON; Amy Gladys CUMPSTON; Maeve Elizabeth CUMPSTON.


John Stanley, Ina Mary and Amy all appear under the books link,






Few spring exhibitions of the

Horticultural Society of Canberra have presented a more

beautiful display of uniformly

good quality blooms than that

staged in the Albert Hall on



Mrs. J. G. Barclay, wife of the

High Commissioner for New Zealand, was impressed by the ex

hibition. ........

Of the major sections, roses, sweet peas and popples, in the latter was seen the highest standard and keenest competition,

with Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston the most successful exhibitor.

The display of flowers which won for Mrs. J. H. L. Cumston the Lady Gowrie Cup for the fifth time, was the outstanding exhibit of the show. It comprised a dozen arranged bowls and vases of carefully selected blooms, all well grown and in a wide range of varieties.


The awards were:



Vase, six colours Mrs. G. Waterton 1,  Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston Vase three colours: Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston 1,

Vase, mixed: Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston 1,

Vase, pinks: Mrs. G. Waterton

1, Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston 2.

Any other shade: Mrs. J. H. L.

Cumston 1,


The Lady Gowrie Challenge

Cup for a display: Mrs. J.H. L.


Collection, six varieties: Mrs.

J. H. L. Cumpston 1,

Garsia 1, Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston

Three antirrhinums: Mrs. P. G.

Hardy 1, Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston


Heuchera: Mrs. J.H. L. Cumpston 1,

Sweet William': B. K. Lawrey

1, Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston 2,

Rhubarb: D. W. Brett 1, Mrs.

J. H. L. Cumpston 2.

Culinary herbs: Mrs.-J. H. L.

Cumpston 1,

Broad bean Any other: K. Lawrence 1, Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston 2.

Strawberries: Mrs. J. H. L.



The Canberra Times  Monday 22 November 1948

GRAMMAR BALL Brilliant Success The Fifth Annual Ball of the Canberra Grammar School, which was held in the Albert Hall last night, under the patronage of their Excellencies the Governor General and Lady Isaacs, provided a most successful and enjoyable function. His Excellency, attended by Captain Bracegirdle, arrived at the hall at 9 p.m., and was received by a committee consisting of the Bishop of Goulburn and Mrs. Burgmann the Headmaster and Mrs Edwards, Sir Robert and Lady Garran, and Colonel and Mrs. H. E. Jones. More than 300 people were present

and dancing went on until 2 am.  Friends of the school came in parties from as far away as Cooma, Bombala, Yass and Goulburn, while a considerable number of old boys travelled from even greater distances to attend the ball. The decoration of the hall and the supper room by Mrs. Cumpston was

really magnificent, and the blend of marigolds and wattle with the greenery was extremely artistic in conception.

Among those present at the ball were the Hon. and Mrs. J. A. Perkins, Hon. Josiah and Mrs. Francis,

Mr. and Mrs. E. T. Crutchley, Mrs. S. McKay,, Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Starlin, Major and Mrs. Hodgson, Dr, Finlay, Mr., Mrs. and Miss Knowles, Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Daley, Dr. Hutt, Dr. and Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston, [and many others].


The Canberra Times  Saturday 4 August 1934

RED CROSS Canberra Division



At a meeting of the general committee of the Australian Capital Territory Division of the Australian Red Cross Society, on Monday, special consideration was given to the question of taking action to meet the desires of residents of the Territory,

particularly women, who are anxious

in this period of national emergency,

to render service in the directions

contemplated by the constitution ot

the Society. After discussion, the committee found it necessary to defer any immediate action, as amongst the correspondence dealt with was a communication from the headquarters of the Society requesting the Division

to await instructions.....

Constitution of the Division, the committee has elected Sir William

Clemens, C.M.G., as president of the

and Mrs. J. H. L. Cumpston

and Lieut.-Colonel J. H. T. Goodwin

as vice-presidents.

The Canberra Times Thursday 7 September 1939

The Canberra Times Saturday 14 January 1939



Yarralumla House grounds presented a colourful scene yesterday when Their Excellencies, Lord and Lady Gowrie, tendered an afternoon

garden party to visitors to the

Science Congress. The wide green

lawns of Yarralumla with their surround of garden beds of flowers provided  refreshing coolness.

Lord and Lady. Gowrie mingled with their guests. Lady Gowrie wore an elegant figure in a graceful long

gown of silver grey lace worn with

a small cape of the same silvery fabric. Her matching wide straw hat

was trimmed with silver grey and pastel pink ostrich feathers.

Dr. J. H. L. Cumpston and Mrs Cumpston, who wore a gown of beige

linen lace to match her straw hat

that was trimmed with wallflowers.

Mrs G M Cumpston

Birth Date: abt 1886

Age: 67  

Port of Departure: Sydney, Australia  

Arrival Date: 21 Dec 1953

Port of Arrival: London, England  

Ports of Voyage: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Fremantle, Colombo, Bombay, Suez, Port Said and Gibraltar  

Ship Name: Orion  

Shipping Line: Orient Steam Navigation Company Ltd  

Official Number: 164493  


 Source Citation: Class: BT26; Piece: 1323; Item: 123


Family photograph kindly supplied by Margaret and Maeva.  1968