In October 1876 three Watson brothers left from their father Grandie’s property “Walwa” on the Upper Murray in Victoria, following a survey trip by Greg, one of the brothers, in 1875, to settle on the Gregory River at “Gregory Downs” some 120 kilometres south of Burketown, arriving in August 1877. Two of the brothers, Harry Frederick and Philip Sidney were twins aged only 19 at the time and the youngest Robert McGregor (Greg or Greggy) Watson was only 17 years of age. When they arrived, a family friend, who travelled with them and was to be a partner, returned immediately to Victoria and sold his share leaving the three Watson boys to “sink or swim”. (Note:- For details of their adventures at Gregory Downs see the full story at Page Menus “Story Links to PDF’s”)
Harry Frederick Watson (1857-1942) was born just after midnight on December the 31st 1857, the ninth child of Sidney Grandison “Grandie” Watson and his first wife Isobella (nee Robinson). Born just before midnight was his twin brother Philip Sidney Watson. After bearing 10 children, their mother Isobella died from an ectopic pregnancy when the twins were nearly four years old in August 1861. She was 36 years old. Eight months later, in May 1862, Grandie married Constancia “Constance” Armstrong with whom he had another 7 children. The twins schooling was at first with a Governess, possibly Mary Kenny, and later from 1869 they attended boarding school in Melbourne (St Kilda Lyceum School) until 1873.
In 1874 the twins started work at Tintaldra Store as well as did stock work and maintenance on both Tintaldra Station and the home property Walwa. Constance Watson’s brother Charles Trench Armstrong was managing Tintaldra Station. Harry also commenced a mail run from Cudgewa to Tintaldra. Harry married Katherine “Katie” Robertson from Swan Reach, SA on the 12th July 1892.
They had three children, one dying at birth (1893), Winifred Isabel Mary (1895-1969) and Carmen Emily (1897-1932), both born at Tintaldra.
Harry managed the property “Tintaldra Station”, on the Murray River, following the death of his father Grandie Watson in 1891 and when it was sold to the Donald Mackinnon of Melbourne in 1910. MacKinnon also took over the Store and Hotel. Harry then bought the homestead portion of “Tooma Station” in NSW from Germaine McMicking and reconstructed the old homestead. “Tooma” was about 6,000 acres on the other side of the Murray from Tintaldra. “… and now has his home there runs a motor car and is no end of a swell…”
Around 1900, Harry was also breeding ‘Walers’, small horses specifically for the use of Australian troopers in the Boer War. He was also breeding horse for India.
Tooma Station was also previously owned by Alexa Watson’s future husband Andrew Kinleside – they married in 1877- in partnership with a Mr Macartney, and his cousin George Greene, later to live at “Iandra”, famous for it’s castle and share farming agreements and near Andrew Kinleside’s “Uppingham” at Cowra, purchased in 1882.
Around 1919 Harry sold “Tooma Station” to Stan O’Keefe but continued to visit and stayed there for months at a time over several years.
On the 1st of March 1920, the property “Whitley”, on the southern highlands, was transferred to Harry’s wife Katherine “Katie” Watson. The Watsons owned “Whitley” for the next 17 years until the 5th of February 1937.
Carmen trained as a nurse at the Melbourne Hospital. She was amongst numerous female guests at the Alexandra Club in Melbourne on the afternoon of Friday the 2nd November 1923, amongst wives of delegates at a medical congress. Perhaps she was a guest of her uncle Archie. In her early 30’s, Carmen developed Pleurisy and Pericarditis and her mother Kate, together with Winifred, took her overseas in search of better medical treatment and a better climate. They travelled to the high alps in Switzerland to Hampshire as well as the shores of the Mediterranean in France. Katie’s bedside vigil all went for nothing and Carmen passed away in Switzerland in December 1932 at age 35. Harry stayed in Australia for most of the time Katie was in Europe, and much of the dry season at Gregory Downs. The mostly unused home “Whitley” was referred to by Prof Archie Watson as Harry’s ‘white elephant’. Carmen’s estate, comprising property in NSW and personal property in Victoria, was left to her sister Winifred. Having predeceased her Uncle Archie, Carmen did not inherit Walwa Station as had been intended.
After Carmen’s passing, Harry took little interest in Gregory Downs and the running was left to younger brother Greggy. In 1934, Archie wrote to his sister Jessie that, “Harry is silent and somewhat morose, however he brightens up occasionally at meals… He spends his time plaiting napkin rings from Pandanus leaves. As an artist in plaiting pandanus, green hide, or wallaby leather, he is absolutely unapproachable! He never mentions Katie or Carmen, presumably however, they and Winfred are on his mind”. (Harry’s great nephew, Olaf Walsoe also recalled that Harry was a wizard at veterinary surgery)
Katie died in May 1936 leaving Harry sad and lonely. “Whitley” was sold the following year. Harry passed away in August 1942 aged 84, leaving Gregory Downs to his younger and only surviving brother Robert McGregor “Greg” Watson.
Mimi Watson and Max Maxwell-Gumbleton
On the 8th of August 1924, Winifred “Mimi” married Maxwell Sidney Harold Maxwell-Gumbleton (1895-1971) the eldest son of Maxwell Homfrey Maxwell-Gumbleton (Born Maxwell Homfray Smith (1872-1952)) and Ella Maria (nee Gillum 1875-1953). The wedding was in Columbo, Ceylon.
In 1916 Maxwell senior had changed his surname from Smith to Maxwell-Gumbleton under direction of his great uncle Richard John Maxwell-Gumbleton’s will, in order to remain eligible to inherit his estate being Twyning Manor House and other lands and tenements. Great Uncle Richard had passed away in 1889 and the estate had been left to the use of his wife, Isabella, until her death in 1917.
“And the testator declared that every descendant of the said Emma Jane Smith deceased who should become entitled under his said will to the hereditaments thereinbefore devised as tenant for life or tenant in tail in possession and who should not then bear the surname and arms of Maxwell-Gumbleton should within 12 calendar months after he or she should have become so entitled in possession as aforesaid or if he or she should be under the age of 21 years then within 12 calendar months after he or she should have attained that age assume the surname and arms of Maxwell-Gumbleton and apply for and endeavour to obtain a Royal Licence or other proper authority for that purpose with limitations over in case of non-compliance with the aforesaid directions“
Maxwell senior was the Bishop of Ballarat For 10 years from 1917 to 1927 before returning to England. There is anecdotal evidence, but no proof, that Winifred “Mimi” Watson and may have met her husband Max in Ballarat.
Winifred and her daughter Maxine moved to Sydney from Singapore during the War. Her husband, Brigadier Maxwell Maxwell-Gumbleton, was imprisoned by the Japanese at Changi in Singapore until liberated on the 5th September 1945. Maxwell, who had been awarded the Military Cross aged 17 in WW1, spent some time in Sydney with his family before they all returned to England. Maxwell had been recommended for the award of the Distinguished Service Order for the work he did helping prisoners of war of all arms and denominations in Changi, but this was rejected because he had been in a defeated army. His fellow prisoner and great friend, Col Reggie Lees of The Gordon Highlanders, was, however, awarded an MBE. There is no doubt they both saved many prisoners lives. Maxwell retired from the army and took a job with M16 at the War Office.
Winifred passed away on the 13th February 1969 at Kitale, Kenya. Her husband, Maxwell then married Margaret Mary Evans in Copenhagen on the 16th December 1969 and he passed away in Copenhagen on the 3rd of October 1971.
Maxine Maxwell-Gumbleton and Geoffrey Horsfall
Maxwell and Winifred had one daughter Maxine Mary Maxwell-Gumbleton (1927-2020) born at “Whitley” and who married Geoffrey Richard Horsfall in London just after WW2 on the 2nd October 1952. They moved to Kenya in East Africa and bought a farm in the Cherangani Hills where they stayed for 19 years. They called the farm “Walwa”. In 1971 the family moved to Wiltshire in the UK and their home was known as “Hill House”. Maxine and Geoffrey were to have five children, Winifred Angela Mary, Geoffrey Maxwell, Alexandra Diana Mary “Sarla”, Harry Frederick and Katherine Isabella Mary “Katie”
Geoffrey’s brother Robin Douglas Horsfall married Zoe Jean Hinds, who’s brother William Torrens Hinds was a Spitfire pilot with British RAF 54 Squadron serving in Darwin and who was shot down and killed in action in 1943 Link to Story https://spitfireoverdarwin.home.blog/
In an undated letter from Maxine Horsfall to Mr Harvey of Walwa, Maxine wrote that she met the ‘God-like’ Maharajah of Patiala in Singapore when she was 14. (1941) At that time the Maharaja was reviewing Indian Troops during the war and met the Gumbleton’s by his request “a distant cousin”. It is believed that Jessie Watson (1844 -1943) had told Maxine Horsfall’s mother, Winifred “Mimi” in Maxine’s presence that a sister of Maharaja Karam Singh (ruled 1813 to 1848) was married to Grandie Watson’s father, General Archibald Watson. This is refuted by descendants of the Maharaja and not recorded by the Watsons. Rather General Archibald’s first wife is noted as Sarah McCulloch, who no one had heard of. Archibald married his first cousin Anne Scott in 1821 in England. His first four children had been born in India prior to that marriage. Two were born later, also in India, however it is believed that Anne Scott never went to India. Link to Princess Mystery Story:-https://blackmorehistory.home.blog/2020/01/26/the-princess-mysteries/
Maxine sadly passed away on the 14th December 2020 aged 93, predeceased by her husband Geoffrey as well as her eldest daughter Winifred.