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John Gray

gray graveJohn Gray (1831-1891) was one of the two men known to have survived the Charge of the Light Brigade in the Crimean War at Balaclava in 1854 and to have come to Fremantle. (The other was Henry Dyson Naylor.) He was born at Chatham, and fought unscathed at the Battle of the Alma (20 Sept 1854), and then escaped with only a 'slight wound' from Balaclava (25 October 1854). He also took part in the Siege of Sevastapol. After being discharged from the army in 1861, he joined the prison service. He arrived in 1866 on the Belgravia with his first wife Isabella, and served as a warder in the Prison.

The Gray gravestone and railing is still in situ in Karrakatta Cemetery as @ February 2018, though the area is or was being 'renewed'. Only Maria is interred here. Image courtesy of Mary Yates.

Sacred to the memory of John R. Gray who died 24th June 1891 aged 60 years. Also Maria Gray wife of above died 15th June 1923 aged 84 years.

mariagrayIsabella having died, his second wife was Maria Wickliffe, whose sister was Sarah Harding (nee Wickliffe) widow of harbourmaster, Captain James Harding, the first owner of land at Butler's Swamp which became the (now former) Perth suburb of Graylands. Maria Gray administered the land when her sister became incompetent, and her husband bought it in 1889.

John Gray died in 1891, of 'paralysis alcoholism, acute', in Adelaide St, and was buried in the cemetery which was then at Skinner St. Maria had the Butler's Swamp land put on the market in 88 lots in 1896, and it was called the Graylands Estate after her.

I assume John Gray's headstone ended up in Karrakatta Cemetery because Maria Gray's family wished her to be buried there, and they thought they would 'reunite' them in death, even if it was only by having both names on the same tombstone.


John and Maria Gray had two children, a boy who apparently was stillborn, and a girl, Elizabeth Minnie, b. 1879, Fremantle, d. 3 February 1958, Perth, b. Karrakatta. She married Thomas Flintoff and had at least one child, a son John Wyckcliffe Flintoff, 1914-1920.

References and Links

Mikus, Pamela 2013, Graylands: The Evolution of a Suburb, Hons dissertation, Murdoch University (downloadable).

Diane Oldman's WA Crimean War Veterans site.

Pensioners page, as an example of a warder who got a military pension

Photo of grave courtesy of Mary Yates; photo of Maria Gray also kindly provided by MY, from Battye; Maria Gray grave certificate provided by Diane Oldman: thanks to all!

Find a Grave - for the details about Elizabeth Minnie.

Garry Gillard | New: 19 January, 2015 | Now: 1 October, 2023