Thomas John Kersley jnr

(last updated 22 January 2014)

I. Life and times

thomas john kersley jnrchristina howesThomas, or 'Tom' as he was known (pictured on the left before his marriage), was born at Moonambel in Victoria. He married Christina Howes (1864-1957) at St Arnaud on 20 August 1885 (a young Christina is shown in the photo on the right). Their wedding certificate shows that Christina was born at Carapook in Victoria, the daughter of John Howes, an engine driver originally from Ipswich in England, and Christina Stewart from Paisley in Scotland (who were married at Ballarat in Victoria in 1855 and had ten children in addition to Christina). Thomas, who later worked for the Victorian railways, was then working as a miner. The marriage was held in accordance with the rights of the Wesleyan Church and was witnessed by a David and Ann Rodan.

At the time of his mother's death in 1903, Thomas and Christina were living on Queen Street in Bendigo where Thomas was working for the Victorian railways. By the time of the 1909 election, they had moved to Melbourne and were living at 32 Molesworth Street in North Melbourne. Thomas was then a railway guard. The 1914 electoral roll has Thomas and Christina living at 30 Epsom Road in the Melbourne suburb of Kensington, where they would spend the remainder of their lives. With them at the time was their 30 year-old daughter, Christina Emily ('Chrissie') Kersley who was said to be a 'costumeire' (Chrissie would marry a Melbourne lad, Robert Earl Mustow, two years later - see below). Next door at 28 Epsom Road was the couple's 28 year-old son, Thomas Ernest Kersley, who, like his father was then a railway employee.

As the notice in the Melbourne Argus cited below indicates, Thomas John Kersley died suddenly of a cerebral haemorrhage at his home on Epsom Road on 12 April 1932: 'KERSLEY - On 12 April (suddenly) Thomas John Kersley of 30 Epsom Road Kensington, loving husband of Christina, and loving father of Chrissie (Mrs Mustow), Thomas, Myrtle (Mrs Thaw), Jack Gordon, Doris, Allan and Keith and loved brother of Lucy (Mrs Burns) and Cornelius, aged 68 years, late of Victorian railways'. He was buried in the Fawkner cemetery the following day.

After Thomas' death Christina continued to live at the family home in Kensington until her own death there in 1957. Her death certificate stated that she had been born at Carapooee in Victoria and her issue at time of her death were Christina Emily, Thomas Ernest, Myrtle Nellie (dec), John Howes (dec), Leslie Gordon, Doris Mabel, Allen Frederick (dec) and Frank Keith Kersley.

beach picnic

This remarkable photo came from 'Monie's trunk' and is of a Kersley family gathering taken in Melbourne
in around 1912. Christina and Thomas John Kersley are fifth and sixth from the left at the rear. We think
their two eldest daughters - Christina and Myrtle - are probably among the young women grouped
in the centre of the photo. The younger children present would include at least Frank,
Allen (Len), Doris, Gordon and John Howes Kersley.

II. Family and descendants

Thomas and Christina had eleven children between 1887 and 1909: Christina Emily (1887-1970), Percy William (1889-91), Thomas Ernest (1891-1973), Amy May (1893-1901), Myrtle Nellie (1895-1951), John Howes (1897-1953), Ida Olive (1899-1900), Leslie Gordon (1903-1991), Doris Mabel (1905-1983), Alan Frederick (1907-35) and Frank Keith Kersley (1909-90).

As shown, three of these died as young children, Percy at Kyneton and Amy and Ida at Boort in country Victoria. It seems that three of their boys did not marry. As the newspaper report cited below indicates, John Howes Kersley, who was born at Kyneton and worked in the post office, was killed in a vehicle accident:

Two men were killed instantly on Saturday night when their station waggon crashed into a power pole on the Geelong-Torquay road. They were John Howes Kersley, 55 of Epsom Road Kensington, and Thomas Ingram Patterson, 61, of Rankins Road Kensington. The vehicle, travelling towards Torquay, nine miles from Geelong, glanced off a stationary car and careered for 200 yards before it hit the pole. Four occupants of the stationary car, which had broken down, were not injured (Melbourne Argus, 5 October 1953).

John's younger brother, Allen Frederick ('Len') Kersley, who was born at Seymour in Victoria, worked as a cabinet maker and lived at home with his parents all his life. He died in the Royal Melbourne Hospital of acute ulcerative endocarditis on 13 November 1935. The following memoriam notice published in the Melbourne Argus two days after his death shows that his life was probably centred around the local Baptist church: 'KERSLEY - A token of esteem to the memory of our loved treasurer Allen (Len) who passed to higher service November 13 - With Christ which is far better (Inserted by officers and teachers of Newmarket Baptist Sunday School'.

A third brother, Frank Keith Kersley, who was born in Melbourne, also worked as a cabinet maker and also lived for much of his life in his parents' home at Kensington. After the family home was sold he lived with his sister Doris Mabel King nee Kersley in Strathmore until the 1980s when he moved to Torquay. According to the Howes Family Tree on, he died in Melbourne in 1990. An article in the Melbourne Argus on 16 March 1956 suggests that Frank may have at one time also trained and driven trotters: 'Under Frank Kersley's training and driving this season Chetanne has developed from a moderate country perfomer into a top-class city pacer...Punters have nicknamed Kersley "The Ice Man" because he is such a cool reinsman'.

Christina Emily ('Chrissy') Kersley (1887-1970)

Born at Donald in Victoria in 1887, Chrissy lived with her parents until her marriage to Robert Earl Mustow (1888-1951), the son of Robert and Caroline Mustow nee Hancock, at the Presbeyterian Church in the Melbourne suburb of Newmarket in 1916. Robert was born at Maryborough in Victoria in 1888, the son of Robert Earl Mustow snr (1863-1932), railway employee, and Caroline Hancock. Caroline died at her son's residence in Seymour on 21 January 1938. The following notice, published in the Melbourne Argus the next day, informed its readers that 'Caroline [was the] relict of the late Robert Earl Mustow [and] beloved mother of Robert Earl, Ruby Leah (Mrs R. Johnston, Glen Huntley), George Ray and Ida Emma (Mrs C. L. Searle). Before his marriage to Chrissy, Robert Mustow jnr, who was also a railwayman, was involved in a rail accident described in the Albury Border Morning Mail as follows:

'SEYMOUR, Wednesday. last night Mangalore was the scene of a railway accident. About 10 o'clock a goods train from the Goulburn Valley, in charge of a driver named McCulloch, and a fireman named R. Mustow jnr, crashed into a buffer stop and wrecked about half a dozen trucks. Fortunately no-one was injured, but both McCulloch and Mustow had miraculous escapes. The latter jumped from his engine when he saw the accident was inevitable, and only received slight abrasions on the arm. McCulloch remained on his engine and was of the accident was immediately telegraphed to Seymour and gangs of men were sent out to clear the wreckage...[which fortunately] was well clear of the main lines...' (4 May 1911).

After living for a time in Melbourne, Robert and Chrissy moved to Seymour in central Victoria where Robert's parents and sister still lived. In 1928 they holidayed at Coolangatta, staying at Grosvenor House. The Australian electoral rolls show they remained at Seymour until the late 1940s when they moved back to the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds where Robert died in 1951. Chrissy continued to live in Melbourne from the time of Robert's death until her own death at Windsor in 1970.

Joyce and Robert had only one daughter we are aware of: Joyce Jean Mustow (shown in the photo below) who married a butcher, Stanley George Cruise in around 1950. The DVA's Nominal Service Roll shows that V205287 Signalman Stanley George Cruise, who was born at Melbourne on 7 November 1922, enlisted at Ripponlea on 14 November 1941. He was then living at Caulfield in Melbourne and gave his NOK as William Cruise. He served in the 4 Australian Divisional Signals until 22 March 1942 when he transferred to the RAN and served as a stoker on HMAS Lonsdale until his discharge on 7 May 1946. The Australian electoral rolls show that Joyce and Stanley, who worked as butcher, lived initially in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris and later in Beaconsfield and Berwick in eastern Victoria. We believe they had at least four children - Jillian Joyce, Robyn May, Lawrence William and Warwick Stanley Mustow. Ancestry's index of Australian bdms shows that a Stanley George Cruise, born in around 1923 and the son of Stanley William and May Amelia Cruise, died at Berwick in Victoria in 1980.

joyce mustow

From the Australian War Memorial's archives, the photo is thought to have been taken in Seymour
in Victoria in January 1940 and shows 'Joyce Mustow and Helen (Nellie) Boland holding a
painting of two soldiers for display on the occasion of the opening of the new RSL hut.
The opening was attended by recruits from the nearby Puckapunyal training camp'.

Thomas Ernest Kersley (1891-1973)

thomas edward kersleyThomas, shown in the photo on the left, was born at Kyneton in Victoria and served in the First AIF between 12 August 1915 and 1 March 1919. Aged 24, single and a printer by trade, he embarked from Melbourne on HMAT A17 Port Lincoln on 16 October 1915 as part of the 10th reinforcements for the 14th Battalion but ultimately served as a gunner in the 11th Field Artillery Brigade. Thomas' papers contained in the National Archives show that he disembarked initially in Egypt and served in the Sinai campaign until the middle of 1916. From January 1917 until the end of the war he was in France. During this time he was awarded 28 days field punishment for insubordinate language towards a superior officer. Thomas returned to Australia in March 1919 on the troopship China.

After returning from the war Thomas, like his father, worked for the Victorian railways. He married Jane ('Janie') Mann (1895-1985), the daughter of William Mann, a miner, and Mary Ann Fleming, at Richmond in Melbourne in 1927. Their wedding certificate, a copy of which is contained on the 'Howes Family Tree' on, shows the wedding took place at St Stephen's Church of England at Richmond (where Jane was then living) and was witnessed by Thomas' younger brother, John Howes Kersley, and a William Munro. The electoral rolls indicate that Thomas and Janie lived in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon after their marriage. Thomas died from the effects of bronchopneumonia at Heidelberg (probably at the Repatriation Hospital) on 6 December 1973 and was buried in the Fawkner cemetery four days later. He was 82 years old, had been a railway employee, and normally resided at 10 Morton Street in Essendon. Jane Kersley nee Mann continued to live at 10 Morton Street after Thomas' until her own death there in 1985.

Thomas and Janie had two daughters we are aware of: 1) Darothy Jean Kersley (1927-49) who died at Essendon aged 22 years; and 2) Gladys Myrtle Kersley, who worked as a typist and married John David Menzies sometime between 1954 and 1963. She and John seem to have separated sometime before the 1968 election.

Myrtle Nellie Kersley (1895-1951)

Born at Kyneton in 1895, Myrtle lived with her parents in Essendon and worked as a milliner until her marriage to Arnee Jack Thaw in 1920. Arnee was born in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton in 1894, the son of William Thaw and Esther Amy Schlesinger. His and Myrtle's wedding, which was witnessed by Myrtle's brother Thomas Ernest Kersley, was announced in the Melbourne Argus on 10 April 1920 as follows: 'THAW-KERSLEY - On 13 March at Flemington Prebyterian Church, by the Rev Chaplain R. M. Baird, Arnee Jack (late AIF) only son of Mr and Mrs Thaw of Kensington, to Myrtle Nellie, second daughter of Mr and Mrs T. Kersley of 'Windarra' Epsom Road Kensington. Present address: 'Tawerra', Heaver Street Essendon'.

As the wedding announcement noted, Arnee had earlier served in the First AIF. His military record contained in the Australian Archives shows he had enlisted on 21 August 1914 - he was then a 20 year-old clerk living in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton - and embarked from Australia with the 6th Battalion. He served at Gallipoli where he was initially reported missing at Cape Helles on 8 May 1915 but was later found wounded (a GSW to the nose and mouth) and sent to St Andrew's Hospital on Malta from where he sent the following letter to his father:

I am alive and kicking (kicking with one leg at present). Long before this you will have read of the doings of our boys at Gallipoli, and will hear a good bit more before we are finished. Though we say it ourselves, landing was a great achievement, and we are all proud of it. One has to view the place where we landed to realise the job we had at hand. The 'Tommies' have nicknamed us the 'White Ghurkas'. It is certainly a compliment to our gameness. We have all seen and experienced things that we will never forget especially on my first and last day of action. ... Our brigade made an attack on a ridge about two miles from our position, but owing to the odds against us being too strong, we had to retire for a short distance. In tearing down a hill, I had a nasty fall over a log, and was paralysed for the time being. It was pretty awkward for our boys were retiring and the Turks were advancing. I crawled into an old trench of theirs, and awaited events. They went right over the top of me, and when I came to found myself in between their firing line and artillery. I squirmed through the undergrowth to their left flank I could get no further as they were too thick so I got into a bush about 5pm and could not move a muscle until 3.30 am next morning. I can tell you it was a strain on my nerves, 10 and 1/2 hours in a bush with them running all around and even getting down against the bush where I had hidden. I waited until the moon got down and then the big guns began to boom when I took a mad leap out of the bush and across two hundred yards of open space, with rifles cracking after me, and then up the hill on the other side with bullets whizzing round my head. But my troubles were not over then, for when I got over the rise and was thanking my lucky stars that I has escaped, crack went a rifle right at my elbow (in a bush was one of the snipers). The bullet just grazed my neck. I swung around, put my rifle right into the bush and pulled That sniper will not trouble the boys any more. In one way I hope they drop us at Malta for the sooner I get back with the boys the better I will like it, for the shot and shell has a great attraction for some, when once they have been under it (Flemington Spectator, 8 July 1915).

After recovering from his wounds, he was transferred, in January 1916, to the 58th Battalion as one of its Company Sergeant Majors. In June 1916 he and his unit were shipped from Alexandria to France where he served until November 1918 when he and other 'olds and bolds' were returned to Australia on 'special 1914 leave'. He was discharged from the Army in March 1919.

The Australian electoral rolls show that Arnee and Myrtle lived at Essendon (later Strathfield) after their marriage. Acccording to Leonore Frost's website on those from the area who answered the 'call to empire', he was the President of the Aberfeldie Progress Association - which in 1928 joined together with six other local progress associations to form the Northern Districts Progress Cricket Association - and active in local ex-service, sporting, theatrical and Masonic activities. He later became General Manager of the Australian Mont de Piete Loan and Deposit Company Limited which was based on Collins Street in Melbourne, and Vice President of the Victorian Financiers Association. He also joined the Army during the Second World War although we have no details of his service. What is not said is that during the latter period of his life, Arnee also suffered from a increasing drinking problem, a further legacy no doubt of his wartime experiences and, as his death certificate made clear, a major cause of his relatively early death. This occurred on 16 January 1954 at 'Norwich Hall', a Private Hospital in Surrey Hills in Melbourne and was attributed to renal failure caused by long-term and chronic alcoholism. There is no doubt, too, that Arnee's drinking problems were an increasing burden on Myrtle who had died prematurely at their family home in Strathfield three years earlier. This is clear from her death notices that were published in the Melbourne Argus on 12 April 1951:

'THAW - On April 10 at her home, Hillsyde Parade Strathmore. Myrtle Nellie, loved daughter of Christina and the late Thomas Kersley, loved sister of Chrissy (Mrs Mustow), Thomas, John, Gordon, Doris (Mrs King) and Keith - some day we will understand'; and 'THAW - On April 10 at her residence, 1 Hillsyde Pde Strathmore, Myrtle Nellie, dearly beloved wife of Arnee, beloved mother of Ken and Alan, loved mother-in-law of Lois - A patient sufferer now at rest'.

Myrtle and Arnee had two children we are aware of:

alan thaw

1) The DVA's Nominal Service Roll shows that VX109586 Signalman Kenneth William Thaw, born at Essendon on 20 March 1924, enlisted in the Second AIF at Bonegilla in Victoria on 29 September 1942. He was then living at North Essendon and gave his NOK as Myrtle Thaw. He served in the 66th Australian Operating Section until his discharge on 27 November 1946. As the following engagement announcement shows, soon after his discharge Ken married Winifred Lois Barron: 'BARRON-THAW - Lois, only daughter of Mrs A. Barron, 37 Bank Street East, Ascot Vale, and the late Mr R. Barron, to Ken, eldest son of Mr and Mrs A. J. Thaw, 1 Hillsyde pde, Strathmore'. The 1949 electoral roll shows Kenneth, a salesman, living with his parents and then moving to Ascot Vale where he and Lois were registered as living at 26 Glenview Road in 1954. The 1958 roll has Kenneth, a technician, and Winifred living at 66 Ardmillan Road in Moonee Ponds. By the time of the 1963 election they had moved to 12 Finchley Avenue Glenroy where they remained until at least 1980 (the last roll also included a Gregory Bruce Thaw, linesman).

2) Alan Campbell Thaw (pictured on the left) also served in the Army during the Second World War. The DVA's Nominal Service Roll shows that VX94424 Trooper Alan Campbell Thaw, born in Melbourne on 17 January 1926, enlisted in the Australian Army at Royal Park in Melbourne on 28 February 1944. He was then living at North Essendon and his NOK was 'Arner' Thaw. He served in the 2/4 Commando Squadron until his discharge on 25 February 1947. As well as a commando, Alan was also an accomplished footballer, playing 41 games for Essendon between 1949-50 and 1952-4. According to Wikipedia and other sources he had been recruited locally and was a 'back pocket in Essendon's 1949 premiership side', part of a brilliant defensive unit that kept Carlton to just six goals. 'He retired in 1954 and the following season was put in charge of the reserves team, coaching them until 1959. In the 1959 season he coached Essendon to a win over Fitzroy when Dick Reynolds was unavailable. From 1960 to 1976, Thaw was coach of Essendon's under-19s and steered them to premierships in 1961 and 1966'. In total he spent 22 consecutive seasons in a coaching capacity at the club. Alan married Joan Margaret Gray and had at least three children we are aware of: Deborah Joan, Jeffrey Alan and Karen Elizabeth Thaw. He died in Melbourne in 2007 (the Ryerson Index contains a number of entries for Alan Campbell ('Basher') Thaw from the Melbourne Age and Herald Sun which indicates he died on 22 February 2007 and was buried six days later).

Leslie Gordon Kersley (1903-91)

Gordon as he was known as was born at Boort in 1903 and married Nellie Sloper at Seymour in 1931. According to the 'Howes Family Tree' on, Nellie was born at Seymour in 1909, the daughter of Edward Sloper, a labourer, and Mary Ann McNeill. It also indicates that Nellie and Leslie had only one child, Rex Gordon Kersley, who was born at Seymour in 1936 and died there three years later. The Australian electoral rolls show that Leslie, who worked all his life for the Victorian Railways, and Nellie lived in Seymour until the 1950s when they moved to the Melbourne suburb of Moonee Ponds. We believe Gordon died there in 1991 although that has still to be confirmed.

Doris Mabel Kersley (1905-83)

Born at Bendigo in 1905, Doris married George William King (1906-68), the eldest son of William Henry King and Violet Mitchell, at Flemington in Melbourne in 1936. The Australian electoral rolls show that Doris and George, who worked as a carrier, lived in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon after their marriage. George died at Parkville in Melbourne in 1968. Doris died at Bendigo in 1983. Her death certificate (which can be viewed on the 'Howes Family Tree') states that she was living at Strathmore in Victoria at the time of her death and that she and George had one child, Marie Joyce King who was born in 1940.

Image sources
Thomas John Kersley, Kersley family gathering c1912 and Thomas Ernest Kersley, private collection.
Christina Howes from the 'Howes Family Tree' on
Joyce Mustow 1940, AWM P02006.030.
Alan Taw from Official Website of the Essendon Football Club.

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