McPherson Family

McPherson Family

East Perth Cemeteries Records

A quiet Sunday outing turned tragic, William McPherson, his wife Emma nee Styles and their two children Evelyn Gwendolin aged 9 years and Rita Doris Sylvia aged 5 years were drowned on the 6th October 1896 on Melville Water. William formerly a Clerk of Works in Fitzroy, Victoria had only been in the Colony for 9 months. William McPherson was an inexperienced boatman and neither he nor his family could swim. The boat was lying 700 yards off the Swan Brewery when a gust of wind capsized the boat. Mr Stanley who was sailing with the family assisted Emma and the two girls back to the boat. In William McPherson hast to get back aboard, he caused the boat to completely overturn causing his wife and girls to loss their hold. Emma and Evelyn managed to return to the boat again however Rita did not. With the family’s struggles to right the vessel it kept turning over, they were all becoming exhausted. Mr Stanley a good swimmer was finally rescued by a passing boat, however the family who were not wearing any life vest did not survive. Emma McPherson’s body was recovered however it was not until the following day that William, Evelyn and Rita’s bodies were found. I am sure the clothes they were wearing whilst out boating would also have been a contributing facture in their deaths.

They were all buried together in the Church of England Cemetery at East Perth. News of this terrible event spread across the country, newspapers in Adelaide, Broken Hill, Portland Victoria, Maitland NSW and the Town and Country Journal in Sydney all reporting the tragic tale that took the lives of a family.


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