Occupation: Ship owner and designer
Cornelius was a member of the company founded by his father, Messrs. George
Thompson and Co, sailing ship owners who commissioned three steamers, the Aberdeen, the Australasian
and the Damascus, which were all
successful in the Australian trade. The company later became the Aberdeen
White Star Line. Marine engineer and naval architect 1 May
1890 p76 Mr Cornelius Thompson, of the firm of
Messrs. George Thompson & Co., London, sailing ship owners, at last
consulted with Dr. Kirk and Mr. Parker as to the advisability of having
the triple-expansion engine in their first steamer, and ultimately Dr.
Kirk's firm (Messrs. R. Napier & Sons) were favoured with the order to
build the now well known steamer Aberdeen,
which gave so much satisfaction that soon two others were built, viz., the
Australasian and Damascus,
and I consider great praise is due to Mr. Cornelius Thompson for the
confidence reposed in these gentlemen. contributing so materially to the
advancement and development of the marine engine. Of course it is useless
for me to say that from the time the Aberdeen's
results became known the triple-expansion principle became general.
Notes: Cornelius was an enthusiastic golfer,
winning the Aberdeen Golf Club tournament in 1874. The country 1 October 1874 p295 Aberdeen.-
The annual autumn tournament of the Aberdeen Golf Club came off week, and
extended over three days. ... Two rounds or thirty holes were played, and
Mr. Cornelius Thompson, Aberdeen, gained the cup with a total of 162 - 84
in the first round and 78 in the second.
Death: 18 January 1894, at sea, aboard the Damascus, two days out from London
bound for Australia. The
Sydney Morning Herald 5 March 1894 p6
This Aberdeen liner is coming round the coast at a good speed. She
reported off Green Cape at 5.30 n m. yesterday and is due here about
midday to-day. The steamer has made a good run from England, traversing
11,185 miles in 41 days 9 hours 11 minutes, giving a daily average of
285.5 miles, equal to 11.9 knots an hour. A report from Melbourne says
:—-Captain Alexander Douglas still has command, and reports that the
voyage was commenced at Lon- don on 16th January. Moderate southerly winds
and wet weather were experienced in the English Channel, Ushant being
passed on the 17th. On the evening of the 18th Mr. Cornelius Thompson, one
of the members of the firm of Messrs. George Thompson and Co, died at sea.
The anchors were dropped at Teneriffe on tho 22nd. The time occupied in
traversing the 1636 miles intervening between the Royal Albert Docks and
Teneriffe was six days one hour six minutes. The voyage was resumed
shortly before midnight of the 22nd.. The equator was crossed in 9° W. on
the 29th. and she reached Cape Town on 8th February. The run between
Teneriffe and Cape Town was made in 16 days five hours 48 minutes, the
distance steamed over being 4466 miles. The Aberdeen got out of Table Bay
at 5 p.m. the same afternoon. The meridian of Cape Leuwin was crossed on
the 23rd, Cape Otway sighted at midnight on Tuesday, and the Heads entered
at 5.15 a.m. 2nd .March. The deck officers this trip are Mr. A. Walker
(vice Mr. Wm. Custard, deceased, Mr. D. Piggie (second), Mr. J. Paterson
(third), and Mr. H. Porter (fourth), with Mr. A. C. Riddle directing
affairs in the engine department. Mr. T. Willoughby, for many years
favourably known as purser on the passenger ship Sobraon, has control of
the commissariat department. The Damascus had 15 saloon and 37 steerage
passengers, and a full cargo for Melbourne and Sydney.
Southland Times 6 February 1894 p2
Mr Cornelius Thompson, of the Aberdeen White Star line, had a
practical acquaintance with shipbuilding, and served an apprenticeship on
the Clyde at the building yard of Messrs John Elder and Co. Amongst the
first vessels designed by Mr. Thompson for the firm of George Thompson,
junr., and Co., with which he was connected, were the Christiana Thompson,
Jerusalem, and Centurian. He also designed the clipper Thermopylę, which
was built to beat anything of her class and tonnage afloat, and which held
her own against the world in Australian and China voyaging. The ships
Patriarch, Miltiades, Aristides, Salamis, Samuel Plimsoll, Sophocles,
Orontes, Pericles, Aviemore, and Thyatira were also the products of his
skill in draughting, and so successful were these clippers in the
Australian trade that they established a name for themselves, of which not
even the keenest competition has been able to deprive them. Mr Thompson
visited the colonies some seven years ago. Mr George Thompson, the founder
of the firn, and who survives his son Cornelius, is 94 years of age.
Will: proved 12 April 1894, by George
Thompson Henderson, Stephen Thompson, William Parker, and Thomas Fergusson,
Education: Blackheath High School and
Hacking College, North London
Muriel was the chauffeur for the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU),
a suffragette organization, in 1909. The women's suffrage movement: a reference guide p97
(Elizabeth Crawford, 2001)
In April 1909 the WSPU presented Mrs PETHICK-LAWRENCE
on her release from prison with a new car, registration "W.S. 95". It was
an Austin, painted and upholstered in the colours, with white wheels and a
green body lined with a narrow purple stripe. mrs. Pethick-Lawrence
dedicated the car to the general use of the WSPU and it was often used to
take Mrs PANKHURST on her country-wide tours, driven by the
WSPU chauffeur, at first Muriel Thompson, later succeeded by Vera HOLME.
Muriel Thompson joined the FANY as a driver in January 1915. On 8 February
she crossed to Calais to a Belgian military hospital called Lamarck which
the corps was running. Their services having been refused by the British
authorities, they drove ambulances and ran hospitals and casualty clearing
stations for the Belgian and French armies all along the western front. On
29 March she was personally decorated by King Albert with the Kinght's Cross
of the Order of Leopold II for evacuating wounded Belgian soldiers under
fire near Dixmude. The
Argus 20 May 1915 p3 (Melbourne, Victoria) THREE BRAVE NURSES. King Albert Honours.
The King of the Belgians has presented the Order of Leopold II. to three
nurses of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry Corps for bravery under shell
fire in rescuing some wounded men from the trenches. The names of the
recipients, says the "Daily Mail's" correspondent in the north of France
are Miss Muriel Thompson, Sister Mary White, Miss Margaret Waite. The
three nurses had gone up us far as the rear line of trenches not far from
Oostkerke, when an officer asked them if they would like to go to the
first line. They readily assented.
As heavy firing was going on at the time, great care had to be
taken in advancing from one trench to another. They had to go one at a
time at two-minute īntervals with instructions to lie flat on the ground
if any shots came their way. In a little while they reached an outpost,
which consisted of a few cottages huddled close together. As soon as they
reached it, however, the Germans started shelling the place vigorously,
and several men were killed and wounded.
The officer who had asked them to come up held up his hand, saying
it was too dangerous to come any farther, and they must go back to safety.
They refused to listen to his advice, however until they had attended to
some of the wounded who were near them. They then found a stretcher, and,
with the aid of a man, they carried two back to safety under heavy fire,
and while under shelter dresscd their wounds, and took them back to a
I saw Miss Thompson to-day wearing her medal for the first time.
She was very proud of the fact that the King had pinned it on her himself,
and had shaken hands with her. In a short speech the King paid high
tribute to the heroic work which is being performed daily by Englishwomen
On 1 January 1916, British army resistance to the women was finally overcome
and the members of FANY Calais convoy became the first women to drive
officially for the British army. Muriel served as second in command to
Lilian Franklin on the Calais convoy, and was mentioned in dispatches on 9
April 1917. On 1 January 1918 she was appointed officer commanding of a new
joint FANY-VAD (voluntary aid detachment) convoy based at St Omer near the
front line. The St Omer convoy became officially part of the Second Army on
4 May. During the German spring counter-offensive in 1918 the St Omer convoy
worked day and night under heavy bombardment evacuating the dead and
wounded. On 18 May they were called out following a bombing raid on Arques,
including one on an ammunition dump. A second raid came over and, with
shells exploding all around, they were ordered to take cover. The women
worked on regardless, moving the injured to safety for which Muriel was
decorated with the Military Medal on 30 July 1918. London Gazette 26 July 1918 p9000
His Majesty the KING has been pleased to approve of the award of the
Military Medal to the undermentioned Ladies for distinguished services in
the Field as recorded:—
Miss Muriel Thompson, F.A.N.Y.
For conspicuous devotion to duty during an hostile air raid. All these
lady drivers were out with their cars during the raid, picking up and in
every way assisting the wounded and injured. They showed great bravery and
coolness, and were an example to all ranks.
Muriel also received the Croix de Guerre. Her medals were subsequently given
to the National Army Museum. Muriel kept a diary during the war and later
wrote a series a recollections in the diary entitled "Base Notes",
recreating the atmosphere of her experience rather than specific events in a
style that has been described as a precursor to modernist. Excerpts from
Muriel's diary and many more details of her work during the War can be found
girls: the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in the First World War
(Janet Lee, 2005) and excerpts from Base Notes deatiling their literary
value are found in The second battlefield: women, modernism and the First
World War (Angela K. Smith, 2000). The diary is held in the
Liddle collection at the University of Leeds.
Muriel returned to England on 2 September 1918. After a month’s
recuperation, she joined the Women’s Royal Air Force as a recruiting
officer. Administrator Thompson was given the temporary appointment of
Deputy Assistant Commandant in the Women's Royal Air Force on 1 February
1919 (London Gazette 20 May 1919 p6253), and
then Assistant Commandant on 21 March 1919 (London Gazette 22 July 1919 p9259).
She was demobilized on 1 October 1919. Muriel resigned from the FANY in 1922
in a policy disagreement over the corps’ post-war role.
Notes: Muriel was also a driver for sport,
taking part in races and "motor gymkhanas". The Motor car journal 31 August 1907 p582 SIR GILBERT
and Laly Clayton-East were at home to members of the Berkshire Automobile
Club, at Hall Place, near Maidenhead, on Saturday.
Four of the events in a motor gymkhana, which was the principal
part of the afternoon's programme resulted as under:-
Blindfold Driving.-Winner, Miss Muriel Thompson (25 h.p. Austin); second,
Major Portal; third, Dr. Norman H. Joy (6 h.p. Siddeley).
This latter test of skill gave rise to much amusement. Each
competitor was started alone, at a distance of 75 yards from the finishing
flag, with the back of the car towards that flag, and the results were
most ludicrous in some cases. Nearly every competitor lost the sense of
direction or length, some driving entirely off the gymkhana ground, and
others stopping before they had gone 20 yards, in the belief they were at
the finish. Miss Thompson came to rest at a point only 39ft. from the post
in 25 sec.
"Miss Muriel Thompson Winning the Ladies
Bracelet Handicap at Brooklands."
Muriel was involved in the foundation of the Brooklands Automobile Racing
Club, and on 4 July 1908 she won the Ladies Bracelet Handicap at Brooklands,
the first race held there for women drivers. Muriel was driving her brother
Oscar’s Austin racing car, nicknamed Pobble. Muriel reached speeds of 60
m.p.h. over the three mile track. Clarence
and Richmond Examiner 8 September 1908 p3 (Grafton, New South
SIXTY MILES AN HOUR.
Society women drove racing motor cars at sixty miles an hour round the
Brooklands track on 4th July.
The race was the Ladies' Bracelet Handicap, the first contest for women
motorists run at Brooklands, and it was won, after a thrilling struggle,
by Miss Muriel Thompson by two lengths from Mrs. Locke-King, the wife of
the owner of Brooklands. Five ladies started in the race. Seven had
entered, but at the last moment Lady Muriel Gore-Browne and Mrs. Ada
Each of the lady drivers wore a distinctive coloured silk motor
scarf tied in a bow behind her neck. The colours were white, purple, pale
blue, pink and yellow. They wore these in place of the jockey like coats
and caps of the men motorists. All disdained motor goggles as "far too
hideous," and they laughed at all suggestion of danger.
Miss Christabel Ellis, with a true feminine touch, had trimmed the
"bonnet" of her racer with bunches of cornflowers and sweet peas. Her car,
the Guarded Flame, struck quite a feminine note.
The styles of the various lady drivers were striking. Two of them
sat upright as at a piano, while Miss Muriel Thompson, tho winner, bent
forward over the wheel like an American jockey.
Miss Ellis lay almost full length on a sofa, with her toes within
reach of the regulating pedals and hands ready for the brakes. The style
she adopted is popular among racing motorists.
The distance was about three miles round the pudding basin sides of the
Brooklands track, and all the way Mrs. Locke-King and Miss Thompson fought
for the first pince. Mrs. Locke-King, however, could not regain the three
seconds start which her rival had, and Miss Thompson shot over tho winning
line 20 feet ahead.
Enthusiastic crowds surrounded the winner as she gilded back to the
paddock, and one with suffragist sympathies cried. "Women deserve the vote
Sydney Morning Herald 6 September 1911 p9 CYCLING AND MOTORING.
According to the "Autocar" of August 5, the gala day of the Royal
Automobile Club and its associated clubs at Brooklands was a great
success. It was really what we in Australia would term a motor gymkhana,
excepting that we are limited in this respect we have not a track like the
Brooklands (England) in Australia to arrange such a versatile and
instructive programme, which included a hill climb, relay race, obstacle
race and hill climb combined, all-comers' open handicap, skilful driving
race, declaration handicap race, and a blindfold driving competiton. The
conditions were clearly set out, and the various competitions were keenly
watched by a large number of enthusiastic motorists and the sport-loving
public. An item worthy of mention is that two of the events—the
Declaration Handicap and the blindfold driving competiton—-wore won by a
lady driver, Miss Muriel Thompson, who, according to the report, did quite
100 per cent. better than any other competitor.
Death: 3 March 1939, at 30 The Grove,
Boltons, Kensington, London, England, of encephalitis lethargica, an
epidemic form of inflammation of the brain
Buried: Brompton cemetery, London,
1891: Greenwich, London: Muriel A. Thompson, daughter, is aged 15, born in
1901: Bournemouth, Hampshire: Muriel A. Thompson, visitor, is aged 23, born
in Aberdeen, Scotland
Biography: by Lynette Beardwood in New
Dictionary of National Biography published at Driver
Muriel Annie Thompson was a volunteer ambulance driver and member of the
FANY. She was born at 17 Albyn Place, Aberdeen, the fifth of the eight
children of Cornelius Thompson shipowner and marine architect, and the
only daughter of his second marriage, to Agnes Marion Williamson. Her
grandfather was George Thompson junior, laird of Pitmeddon, deputy
lieutenant of Aberdeenshire, provost of Aberdeen, member of parliament for
Aberdeen, and founder of the George Thompson Shipping Company, later the
Aberdeen White Star Line. She was educated at Blackheath high school and
Hacking College, north London. After the death of her father she lived
with her mother at 48 Queensgate, London. Muriel and her two full
brothers, Walter and Oscar, were early and keen motor vehicle drivers.
They were involved in the foundation of the Brooklands Automobile Racing
Club, and on 4 July 1908 Muriel Thompson won the Ladies Bracelet Handicap
at Brooklands, the first race held there for women drivers. She was
driving Oscar’s Austin racing car, nicknamed Pobble. Her speed over 3
miles was 50 m.p.h.
At the outbreak of the First World War Oscar joined one of the several
volunteer ambulance convoys raised to help the French, taking Pobble,
splendidly converted into an ambulance, with him. Women were not welcomed
so Thompson turned to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry corps (FANY). This
was founded in 1907 by a former cavalry sergeant-major, Edward Baker, as
an all-female mounted ambulance unit. By 1914 the FANY had moved to
mechanized transport and on 27 October 1914 was the first women’s
organization to go to France. Their services having been firmly refused by
the British authorities, they drove ambulances and ran hospitals and
casualty clearing stations for the Belgian and French armies all along the
western front. On 1 January 1916 British resistance was finally overcome
and the members of FANY Calais convoy became the first women to drive
officially for the British army.
Thompson joined the FANY as a driver in January 1915. On 8 February she
crossed to Calais to a Belgian military hospital called Lamarck which the
corps was running. On 29 March she was personally decorated by King Albert
with the chevalier of the order of Leopold II for evacuating wounded
Belgian soldiers under fire near Dixmude. She served as second in command
to Lilian Franklin on the Calais convoy, and was mentioned in dispatches
on 9 April 1917. On 1 January 1918 she was appointed officer commanding of
a new joint FANY-VAD (voluntary aid detachment) convoy based at St Omer
near the front line. The St Omer convoy became officially part of the
Second Army on 4 May, choosing a perky-looking red fish as its official
insignia in memory of the surgeon-general’s description of the corps in
1915, then in battle with British officialdom, as ‘neither fish, flesh nor
fowl … but damned good red herrings’.
During the prolonged German spring counter-offensive in 1918 the St Omer
convoy worked day and night under heavy bombardment evacuating the dead
and wounded. On 18 May they were called out following a bombing raid on
Arques, including one on an ammunition dump. A second raid came over and,
with shells exploding all around, they were ordered to take cover. The
women worked on regardless, moving the injured to safety. For their
coolness and courage under fire they were awarded a total of sixteen
military medals and three Croix de Guerre. According to an unpublished
memoir by Beryl Hutchinson, all the decorations were questioned, as there
were too many for such a small unit; but each one was so strongly
supported by the British and French officers on the scene that all were
allowed. Muriel Thompson was decorated with her Military Medal in the
field by the general officer commanding, Second Army, General Sir Herbert
Plumer, and with her Croix de Guerre in the main square of St Omer by
General de la Guiche. Her medals were subsequently given to the National
Muriel Thompson was a tall, dark-haired woman as evidenced by the
photograph showing her towering over General de la Guiche as she received
her medal. Handsome rather than beautiful, other photographs capture her
looking out of the many cars she drove over the years, Pobble the Austin
racing car, Flossie the Ford ambulance, and Kangaroo, her own Cadillac.
Badly affected by the death at Passchendaele in 1917 of her nephew Logie
Colin Leggatt, a lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards, and exhausted after
nearly four years of continuous service, she returned to England on 2
September 1918. After a month’s recuperation, she joined the Women’s Royal
Air Force as a recruiting officer. She was demobilized on 1 October 1919.
She resigned from the FANY in 1922 in a policy disagreement over the
corps’ post-war role. Muriel Thompson, who never married, spent the next
two decades at her London home, 30 The Grove, Boltons, Kensington, where
she died on 3 March 1939 of encephalitis lethargica, an epidemic form of
inflammation of the brain, of which there were several outbreaks between
the wars. She was buried in Brompton cemetery, London.
Oscar continued the shi[powning business founded by his grandfather, and
continued by his father. The
Argus 25 November 1933 p20
Geo. Thompson and Co. Ltd., merchants, shipbuilders, shipbrokers, &c.
Head office, 34 Leadenhall street, London. Agent in Victoria, John Thomas
Brennan, 447 Collins street, Melbourne. Capital £1,000, in £1 shares.
Directors are - Oscar Stephen Thompson, John Macmillan, Basil Sanderson,
Walter Henry Savill, and Sir Norman Alexander Leslie.
Notes: Oscar was well known in the
automobile world for his interest in racing, his car "Pobble" being a
well-known feature on the Brooklands Track. During the War he fitted up the
car as an ambulance and drove it himself in France under the French Red
He was elected an Associate of the Institution of Automobile Engineers in
Death: 26 July 1937, in Kensington
district, London, England, aged 59 The
Mercury 29 July 1937 p11 (Hobart, Tasmania) MR.
OSCAR THOMPSON Prominent Shipping
MELBOURNE, July 28.
One of the best known houseflags in the history of Australian
shipping was lowered to half-mast yesterday above the office of the
Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line, when news was received of the death in
London of Mr. Oscar Thompson, a grandson of the late Mr. George Thompson,
who founded the company more than 100 years ago.
From the early days of colonisation in Victoria, the Aberdeen Line
played an important part in the history and development of the State, and
the traditions are still carried on in the green-hulled "Bay" steamers of
the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line.
Sydney Morning Herald 29 July 1937 p10 SHIPOWNER'S DEATH.
LONDON, July 28.
The death has occurred of Mr. Oscar Thompson, a grandson of the
founder of the Aberdeen Line, He was well-known in the Australian shipping
Mr. Thompson visited Sydney in 1927 in connection with migration,
of which he was an ardent supporter. He came to Australia again in 1929 to
represent the Aberdeen and Commonwealth Line at the shipping freight
conference held that year.
1891: Greenwich, London: Oscar S. Thompson, son, is aged 13, born in
1901: St Marylebone, London: Oscar Thompson, son, is aged 23, born in
Aberdeen. Occupation: Shipowner