Dr James is 6th generation Australian

Thompson Family Heritage

The 1800s

Dr James Thompson is (at least) a 6th generation Australian with Scottish, Irish, English and Chinese heritage.

James great great great grandfather, the Reverend George Macfie, was a Presbyterian minister who emigrated from Scotland in 1837 to serve the Scottish free settlers of the Ebenezer region of the Hawkesbury. A contemporary of the firebrand preacher and republican, the Reverend John Dunmore Lang, who was a well-known character in colonial Sydney, Rev Macfie was one of the founders of St Andrews College at the University of Sydney. His daughter (James great great grandmother) Mary Sinclair Macfie, is remembered in Hawkesbury local history for being caught by the Great Flood at Pitt Town chapel in June 1876 during her wedding to William Thomas Poole. The flood came through so rapidly and unexpectedly that the happy but alarmed couple had to be rowed out of the chapel through floodwaters. Sadly the wedding feast and presents were all washed away, along with Rev. Macfie’s library, to his great distress.

William Thomas Poole himself had an interesting history, arriving penniless in Australia, shipwrecked on the South Australian coast, then working in the copper mines at Burra, saving money to bring his family out to Australia. Later William was an engineer and pioneer sugar grower in Kempsey and Fiji, and served as MLA for South Sydney in the NSW Parliament from 1880-1885. He also became Mayor of Redfern.

On James father’s side, he is descended from Charles Ah Ship, a Chinese gold miner from Canton, who like 17,000 other Chinese miners landed in Robe, South Australia and walked to the Victoria goldfields to escape punitive anti-Chinese landing taxes. Charles ended up moving to Braidwood, later settling in the Rocks, then a scruffy disreputable slum of mariner’s taverns, opium and gambling dens. Charles married an Australian, Ellen McCormick, born in Goulburn, whose family had emigrated from Roscommon, Ireland. James great uncle, Joseph Shipp, was killed with the Anzacs at Ypres in Belgium in WW1, and has recently been recognised as one of a substantial number of Chinese Anzacs. Another great uncle, James Shipp served and returned.

James family have lived on the North Shore for generations around Lindfield, Turramurra and Pymble. He attended Pymble Public School and Knox Grammar. His first job was at the age of 12 as a newspaper boy with his friend, Kurt, from Pymble Public School, for Pymble Newsagent in Grandview Street selling the afternoon newspapers – the Sydney Sun and Daily Mirror – to local businesses and clubs. Later he mowed lawns during summer university holidays.

Mother’s family – The Cranes

James has always been fascinated with animals, a trait he inherited from his grandfather Frank Crane, who kept a mini-menagerie of chickens, budgies and fish in his backyard farm. Frank was born in Manly and raised in Paddington and served as Secretary to the Lord Mayors of Sydney for many decades.

My mother Alison (nee Crane) was a “war baby” – born during World War Two – who unwittingly and probably unknowingly experienced the drama of the Japanese midget submarine attack on Sydney Harbour – when an urgent phone call from my grandfather at Sydney Town Hall warned my grandmother to “put the baby under the stairs” as we were under attack. Mum attended Hornsby Girls High.

Father’s family – The Hodgson’s

My father, Robert Hodgson, was born in Gunnedah, and grew up in the same street as mum at Lindfield. He attended Sydney Grammar then worked in the family machinery and fork-lift truck importing business in Balmain, until he was tragically killed in a work accident in 1970.

Despite this tragedy, things worked out as well as they possibly could under the circumstances, when mum met Denis Thompson in the mid 1970s, and with three children of his own, mum, my sister Belinda and I formed a happy “Brady Bunch” blended family of seven in Pymble. At that time my mother, sister Belinda and I took the surname Thompson, simply for practical reasons.

My wife’s family

My wife, Gretta Howard, was raised in St Ives and attended PLC. Three of four grandparents were Anglo-Australians and one grandfather, Hans Weiler, was of German Jewish origin, having narrowly escaped from Germany pre-war (sadly his family were not so lucky).

Gretta’s paternal grandfather, Harry Howard, served as a bombardier in the RAAF during World War Two. Harry was shot down over Germany, and was the only survivor of his bomber crew. He remained a prisoner of the Germans until the end of the war, after which he returned to his home in Melbourne to raise a family.

Gretta’s father worked in manufacturing, who is now retired and dedicated to ocean swimming, and her mother was a schoolteacher in the state school system, who continues tutoring senior school students to this day.

Gretta and James were married in 2015 and have two little boys who are 7th generation Australians.

Turramurra Vet Hospital

We are delighted that four generations of our family have been involved in Turramurra Vet Hospital.

My grandmother, Mrs Jean Crane opened Turramurra Vet Hospital on the 30th November, 2006 at the age of 98.

My father Denis turned the first sod on the new build for the extensions in 2016, and my mother Alison opened the hospital extensions, together with Federal MP for Bradfield, Paul Fletcher, in 2017.

My wife Gretta and I work at Turramurra Vet, as have my nephew Jack and niece Heidi.

As if that wasn’t enough, Dr Pip Wines of Turramurra Vet has been a family friend since birth and Dr Angus Donald is also married to a vet, Liisa, and they have a newly born son.

We hope that our family vet hospital becomes part of your family as well.

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