Rodney and Ruth Burton's Genealogy Pages


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500 Class, A Social History of George Burton and his Family: Chapter 7: Fifty Years' Service: Thomas Charles Burton

Written in 1981 for the Burton Family Reunion held on 25th October 1981 at Walkerville, Adelaide, South Australia. Winner of the S.A. Family History Award for 1981.


Thomas Charles BURTON

b. 13 August 1867, Holtye, Sussex, England

d. 11 July 1950, Adelaide, S.A.

m. 13 August 1892, Adelaide, S.A.

Charlotte Jane Hayward

b. 22 September 1868, Reed Beds, S.A.

d. 2 November 1944, Adelaide, S.A.


1. Frances Hayward BURTON, b. 19 April 1893, d. 27 March 1917

2. Vera Pearl BURTON, b. 9 July 1895, d. 16 August 1969

Of George and Emma's four married children living in South Australia, Thomas and his small family led a life most independent of the extended family. Thomas drifted into the orbit of his wife's family, the Haywards. There was less community of interest between his family, comprising two girls, and the large broods, dominated by boys, of Arthur, Isabella and Ella. Moreover there may have been some feeling between George Burton and his son Thomas over the original home in Formby Street, Hilton. After buying it from his father, Thomas lived there for a while, then let it and finally sold the home in 1899. He and Charlotte moved into a more substantial home at 17 Bagot Avenue, Mile End. Whatever the reasons, Thomas and his family would weekly visit his wife's parents and engage in that favourite Burton pastime, cards, namely crib and euchre. Though regarded as a well-dressed, slightly aloof uncle by some of his nieces and nephews, Uncle Tom nonetheless made a point of introducing himself to the Burton boys when they went to work for the first time at the Mile End railway works. Like his brother George, Thomas was not a beneficiary of his father's will. He remained a loyal son, pushing his bike over to his mother's at Hilton on Sunday afternoons. Both Thomas and sister Ella were with Emma when she passed away at home on 8th December 1925.

Thomas had joined the railways at Adelaide as an apprentice fitter on 27th November 1882, completed his training six years later on his birthday and when Mile End freight depot was established, including a locomotive servicing workshop, he transferred there on 2nd November 1912 for the rest of his working life. The football loving tradesman completed a marvellous fifty years of service to the South Australian Railways. He retired on 3rd November 1932 with an annual pension of 87 11 s. Of the many descendants of George Burton who worked in the railways, Thomas was the longest serving.

Officers and mechanical employees of the Mile End Locomotive Depot assembled on Friday, August 26, for the purpose of bidding farewell to Mr. Tom C. Burton who is about to retire from the service on account of reaching the age of 65 years. The remarks of Mr. Shea and the chairman were heartily endorsed by [those present]. Mr. Burton in responding, expressed his appreciation of the remarks of the speakers and the valuable tokens he had received.

If his working life was characterised by faithful service, good conduct and solid achievement, Thomas's private life contained more than its share of tragedy. His elder daughter, Frances, married Frederick Smith just after the outbreak of the 1914-19I8 war and Thomas and Charlotte Burton were blessed with their first grandchild in 1915, a girl, Lorna Pearl Smith. Frederick enlisted in the Australian Light Horse and whilst serving in the Middle East, transferred to the Imperial Camel Corps. Shortly before her second birthday, baby Lorna's mother died on Saturday, 27th March 1917, at the residence of her father, Thomas Burton, Mile End. For all, it was a cruel, bitter blow. Lorna was raised by the Smith family but was orphaned at the age of eleven years when her father, Frederick, died of pneumonia on 21st September 1926. He had contracted tuberculosis in the desert during the war. Henceforward, Thomas and Charlotte Burton saw very little of their only grandchild. Lorna attempted to contact her maternal grandparents for their golden wedding anniversary in 1942 but evidently a misunderstanding on the part of her aunt thwarted the attempted reunion. Thomas's other daughter, Vera Pearl, had married Moir Angus, a tailor of Adelaide, in 1930 but the couple had no children.

Lorna Smith was brought up by her paternal grandmother at Toorak and when she left school she worked as a typist in an Adelaide office. Lorna first met William Wade when he was selling chocolates in the Star Theatre, Norwood. He was a teenager at the time and some years later, in 1934, Lorna and William were married and had three children.

William Wade began work at sixteen in Bennett's potteries, Magill, and stayed there for twenty years. For the next five years he was a fireman in the South Australian Railways. He operated from Mile End depot and with his own in-built alarm clock he was never late for work, no matter how early the start. He travelled on the northern run to Terowie and Port Pirie, the eastern to Tailem Bend and the southern to Victor Harbor. William worked for Gilburn Brick for fourteen years and then spent the last ten years of his working life in the maintenance department of the Burnside War Memorial Hospital. In retirement William is an avid bowler and keen dancer. His wife, Lorna, passed away on 7th October 1980.

Lorna's grandfather, Thomas Charles Burton, a stalwart servant of the railways, with a private grief, died on 11th July 1950, aged eighty-three years. His wife Charlotte, predeceased him, having passed away on 2nd November 1944. Thomas, Charlotte and their daughter Frances are buried together in West Terrace Cemetery, Adelaide.

Owner of originalRodney Burton
Linked toFamily: BURTON/BURT (F28)

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