Cumpston Research

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Thomas Bowser Cumpston, [1]

Carlisle and Leeds and his children.

Early in the morning of December 9th, 1873, Thomas B. Cumpston and his wife (Jane Weddill), "who occupied good position in Leeds," were arrested in a railroad station, in Bristol, England, charged with disorderly conduct, both of them in their night clothes, Cumpston having fired a pistol.


Cumpston excitedly told that he and his wife had arrived the day before, from Leeds, and had taken a room in a Bristol hotel, The Victoria, and that, early in the morning, the floor had "opened," and that, as he was about to be dragged into the "opening," his wife had saved him, both of them so terrified that they jumped out the window, running to the railroad station, looking for a policeman.


At the railway station where they were arrested, a terrified Cumpston told the night superintendent, "My wife and I have escaped from a den of thieves and rogues. We had to defend ourselves with a pistol." Cumpston had fired twice, once into the roof and later into the street. Suspecting them of insanity, the superintendent notified police.


In the Bristol Daily Post, Dec. 10, is an account of proceedings in the police court. Cumpston’s excitement was still so intense that he could not clearly express himself. Mrs. Cumpston testified that, early in the evening, both of them had been alarmed by loud sounds, but that they had been reassured by the landlady. At three or four in the morning the sounds were heard again. They jumped out on the floor, which was felt giving away under them. Voices repeating their exclamations were heard, or their own voices echoed strangely. Then, according to what she saw, or thought she saw, the floor opened wide. Her husband was falling into this opening when she dragged him back and the two jumped out a window.


The landlady was called, and she testified that sounds had been heard, but she was unable clearly to describe them. Policemen said that they had gone to the place, the Victoria Hotel, and had examined the room, finding nothing to justify the extraordinary conduct of the Cumpstons. They suggested that the matter was a case of collective hallucination. The court concluded that the Cumpstons had suffered a "collective hallucination”.  There was no suggestion of intoxication. The Cumpstons, an elderly couple, were discharged in the custody of somebody who had come from Leeds.


Source: Several December 1873 articles in the Bristol Daily Post and the London Times Dec. 11, 1873.



CUL 1/2/3

Thomas B Cumpston [1] was born 1810 in Carlisle to John Cumpston and Elizabeth Maria Graham.

He was a Wool Merchant in Leeds at the time of this article.


Married (1) Mary Ann  Robinson (daugh. of George Robson Esq) 22 January 1840 St. Peters Church Leeds. Mary Ann died 1849.  (2) Married Jane Weddill 1858.


Thomas died Mar Q 1873 and is buried in Chapel Allerton Cemetery, Leeds.


See more entries under Leeds

Yorkshire West Riding

Mike Cumpston let me know that he had also read this story about 30 years ago. It was in a book about paranormal phenomena.  There were only a few Cumpston's in Texas and all were from Ireland.   He located the grandson of Thomas Cumpston  who was then a  clergyman in Illinois.  He thought the story was very funny having known the old man.  He told Mike that his family had come from Leeds and had a house there called Rosehurst.











Today, Rosehurst is a beautiful Victorian mansion located close to Leeds University set in stunning gardens, Nestled in the picturesque heart of Headingly, just around the corner from Hyde Park.

CUL 1/2/3/


1810 Cumpston Thomas Bowser [1] son of John CUMPSTON and Elizabeth Maria Graham birth 1810 Carlisle


1811 St Mary Carlisle POO4861 Carlisle Cumpston Thomas Bowser christened 28.11.1811


1837 Whites Directory 1837 Cumpston and Hardwick Woolstaplers 16 Trinity Street, Cumpston Thomas b. of 15 Queen Street


1840 Leeds Vol 23 pg 288 CUMPSTON Thomas Bowser wool merchant formerly of Carlisle marriage Mary Ann  Robinson (d of George Robson Esq) free bmd Mar Q 1840 & Carlisle Patriot 1 Feb 1840


1851 St George Leeds HO 107 2321 7 Sunny Bank Leeds Cumpston Thomas  Bowser age 38 widower commercial traveller in linens and woollens census


1853 Whites Leeds and Clothing Districts Directory.  Cumpston Thomas Bowser Traveller 7 Sunny Bank Leeds.


1858 St Peter Leeds ref CE46/55/303  Cumpston Thomas Bowser age 45 marriage [2] to Jane Weddill; wool merchant formerly of Carlisle Yorks BMD 1858 Free bmd 9b 459


C 16/326/B385  Cause number: 1866 B385. Short title: Butler v Cumpston. Documents: Two bills, interrogatories, six answers, depositions. Plaintiffs: Ambrose Edmund Butler. Defendants: Thomas Bowser Cumpston and James Cumpston his wife (stet). Amendments:  Amended by order 1867. Alexander Clunes Sherriff.

Provincial solicitor employed in Yorkshire, Worcestershire.


1873 Bristol Virginia Rd Leeds Cumpston Thomas Bowser  65  Jane Weddill disorderly and firearm Newspaper paranormal (see the story below)


1873 Chapel Allerton Cemetery Leeds Cumpston Thomas Bowser 65 widower death 15 March 1873 [Note -there are age discrepancies]


Children of Thomas Bowser CUMPSTON [1] and Mary Ann Robinson CUL 1/2/3/


1841 CU/1/2/3/0/ Leeds ref West/9/493 Cumpston Mary Elizabeth birth Yorks free bmd 1841


1848 CU/1/2/3/0/ St Georges Leeds Eldon Terrace Cumpston Mary Elizabeth  age 7 death NBI 19 Oct 1848


1847 CUL/1/2/3/1/ Leeds West ref West/24/262 Cumpston Thomas Bowser [2] birth Yorks free bmd (Married Annie Martha Carter )



Grave Plot - Chapel Allerton Cemetery Leeds:


A10 Kerbed plot close to the north wall with about 8 ft tall memorial consisting of a three level plinth & an oblong column supporting an urn.


'To the memory of Thomas Bowser CUMPSTON who d 15 March 1873 aged 55'.


On side: 'Also Thomas Bowser CUMPSTON his son who d Dec 9 1893 aged 46. Also to the memory of Annie Martha wife of the above who d Dec 31 1930'.  She travelled on the Lusitania from Liverpool to visit USA on 2 Sep 1911 aged 50


On another side: 'Also to the memory of Annie Constable Mary CUMPSTON his only daughter who d 6 Nov 1935 aged 60'. [? Constance not Constable].

Click on Bristol photos to enlarge

Family reference:

Westmorland 12 and CUL/1/2/3/


[Dating to 1756 Lancelot Cumpston born in Brough, Westmorland who married Elizabeth Bowser.]

Army List August 1878

Name Regiment  


Surname  First name(s)  Age  District  Vol  Page  

Births Dec 1847   CUMPSTON  Thomas Bowser    Leeds  23 422    

Marriages Sep 1858  

Cumpston  Thomas Bowser     Leeds  9b 459    to Jane Weddill


Deaths Mar 1873   Cumpston  Thomas Bowser age 65 Leeds  9b 384    


Births Dec 1875     Cumpston  Thomas Bowser (Jun)    Leeds  9b 515    


Deaths Dec 1893    Cumpston  Thomas Bowser  46  Leeds  9b 395


Relieving Officer 25 Grafton Street Leeds

THOMAS BOWSER CUMPSTON traveller 7 Sunny Bank

Cause number: 1866 B385.


Short title: Butler v Cumpston.

Documents: Two bills, interrogatories, six answers, depositions.  

Plaintiffs: Ambrose Edmund Butler.

Defendants: Thomas Bowser Cumpston and Jane Cumpston his wife.

Amendments: Amended by order 1867. Alexander Clunes Sherriff.

Provincial solicitor employed in Yorkshire, Worcestershire.  

Covering dates 1866.  Availability Open Document, Open Description, Normal Closure before FOI Act: 30 years,  Held by The National Archives, Kew  


I applied for copies of this but there are numerous files and the cost would be over £150


Cause number: 1865 S24.

Short title: Sherriff v Butler.

Documents: Bill only.  Plaintiffs: Alexander Clunes Sherriff.

Defendants: Ambrose Edmund Butler, Thomas Bowser Cumpston and Jane Cumpston his wife.

Provincial solicitor employed in Worcestershire, Yorkshire.  

Covering dates 1865  Availability Open Document, Open Description, Normal Closure before FOI Act: 30 years,  Held by The National Archives, Kew  



Lesley wrote to tell me that she is  the granddaughter of Thomas Bowser Cumpston who lived in Perth, Western Australia.   Her mother (Thomas Bowser's daughter Constance F) made contact with her cousin

(Elizabeth) in America many years ago and Lesley is now in contact with May (William Hudson's daughter) who is now in her nineties.  Lesley has photos, letters, diaries, etc from Sir Thomas Bowser Cumpston.  It seems that her mother inherited much of his personal papers including a beautiful painting of an Indian Prince presented to him in honour of his work.



'Pursuant to the Law of Property Amendment Act, 1859.

NOTICE is hereby given, that all creditors and other persons having any. claims or demands against

the estate of- Thomas Bowser Cumpston, late of Rosehurst,

Grosvenor-road, Headingley, and of 8, Bank-street, both in the' city of Leeds, Linen Merchant (who died on •the -9th December, 1893, and whose will was proved by

Annie Martha Cumpston, the surviving executrix therein named, in the Wakefield District Registry of the Probate Division of the High Court of Justice, on the 26th January, 1894), are hereby required to send particulars, in writing, of such claims or demands to us, the undersigned, on or before the 31st day of March, 1894; and notice is hereby given, that at the expiration of that time the said executrix will proceed to distribute the assets-of the said testator among the parties entitled

thereto, having regard only to the debts, claims, and demands of'which she shall have then had notice; and that she will not afterwards be liable for the assets, or any part thereof, so distributed, to any person or persons of whose debt, claim, or demand she shall not then have had-notice.—Dated this 22nd day of February, 1894. FORD and WARREN, 61, Albion-street, Leeds, Solicitors for the Executrix.

London Gazette

NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership heretofore

subsisting between us the undersigned, Thomas Bowser

Cumpston and Richard Hardwick, carrying on business of Woolstaplers, at Leeds, in the county of 'York, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts due from and owing to the said partnership will be paid and received by the said

Richard Hardwick.— Dated the 28th day of August 1837.

Thos. B. Cumpston.

Richard tlardwick.

Gazette Issue 19537 published on the 1 September 1837. Page 19