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Victorian Naval Forces Muster

for the Colony of Victoria. (muster range 1853-1910)*


Last Name:Thompson
First Name:James Arthur
Birth Date: 06-01-1847
Branch:Victorian Navy

James Arthur Thompson


by Shirley Joy

Mr. James Arthur Thompson was a native of London, England and arrived in Williamstown, Victoria in 1864, at which time he was 17 years of age. He worked on small vessels in the bay until he joined the Railway Department, from which he transferred to the Defence Department. He became associated with the clerical division of the Victorian Naval Forces, occupying a post of pay officer in HM Victoria and Cerberus, and later the Permanent Naval Forces, until ultimately, (when the Commonwealth Government assumed sole control of the Defence Department), he became Chief Pay Master.

In 1905, James Arthur Thompson was a Member of the First Military Board of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Some twelve months prior to the death of James Arthur Thompson, the King of England - Edward VII, awarded him the Imperial Service Order (I.S.O.), as a mark of merit for services rendered in connection with the Colonial Forces.

The honour was emphasised at Williamstown by the Town Council, Williamstown Cricket Club, Williamstown Football Club, Williamstown Baseball Club and other associations when an lluminated address, in book form, was presented to him.

James Arthur Thompson, aged 62 years, died on the 22nd. December, 1909, as the result of the bursting of a blood vessel on the brain. For over 45 years he bad been a resident of Williamstown, and most intimately identified with the town, mainly in the direction of athletic sport, chiefly cricket. During the last two to three years of his life he had exhibited a pronounced enthusiasm for baseball.

He was a resident of The Strand, Williamstown at the time of his death, and was survived by his wife Kate Marion Thompson, nee Dobbin, and seven children.

His burial service was conducted by Revs. G.S. Cross and H.A Brooksbank of the Anglican Church and the pall bearers were Commonwealth Naval Connnandant Creswell C.M.G.; Commander Tickell; State Connnandant, Colonel Stanley; Colonel Wallach and Legge, the Mayor of Wllliamstown (Cr. Wymark), Fleet Engineer Breaks, and Mr. Davies, late manager Australian Bank. The funeral was of a semi-naval character, the coffin being conveyed to the Williamstown Cemetery on a gun carriage drawn by the men of the Williamstown naval depot.

photograph courtesy of Shirley & David Joy.
Mystery of the Silver Soup Tureen

"Locally he was known as a "white man," in the fact that linked as he was through life with conservative surroundings, he was ever a tender, true-hearted gentleman, the "straight man" (if he were only a labourer), being counted a friend." from The Chronicle, 25 December 1909.
Transferred to the Defence Forces as a clerk on HMVS Cerberus. In July 1874 he became assistant-paymaster, and was appointed paymaster to the Naval Forces on 18th February 1878. The Cyclopedia of Victoria, By James Smith 1903
Listed in the Victorian Government Gazette dated 23 January 1893 as Paymaster Naval & Military Forces and being transfered to the Unattached List.

* 1853 is given as the commencement date for the Victorian Navy as this is the year that Commander Lockyer (RN) went to Britain to superintend the building of HMCS Victoria.
Although the Victorian Navy ended in 1901 the career of Cerbeus etc continued. In 1910 the new ships started arriving & manning levels increased.

Information & photographs of men who served in the Victorian Naval Forces is eagerly sought. Please contact the webmaster.