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William Ernest Wray

W.E. Wray was Mayor of Fremantle 1914-18, and chairman of the Fremantle Tramway Board 1920-28. Wray Avenue was named after him in or just before 1923. (It was previously Alexander Rd, after an earlier Mayor, F.E. Alexander, 1901-2, and before that Hampton Street - which would have caused confusion with Hampton Road.)

Fremantle Library Local History Collection photo #129, c. 1918, Melba Studio. >

He committed suicide Friday 18 May 1928, cutting his throat while in a stormwater drain at the Esplanade.

Fremantle Library Local History Collection photo # #3338 >
William Ernest Wray was born in England on 2.11.1864 to William John and Isabella Wray (nee Burgess). He was brought to Adelaide by his mother and came to Fremantle on the Kebroyd on 23.12.1885. He married Rose Mary Tapper on 24.5.1894 and had three children: Rosemary Isabel (1896-1971), Olive May (1897-) and William Ernest (1902-1986). William was a grocer in 1890, later worked for the Education Department and was a Fremantle Councillor 1892-1894, 1912-1914, 1920. He was Mayor of Fremantle 1914-1918 and member of the Fremantle Municipal Tramways and Electric Lighting Board 1915 to August 1927. He committed suicide on 18.05.1928. (FHC caption)

from The Daily News, 1928


Inquiry by Deputy Coroner


The circumstances attending the death of Mr. W. E. Wray, chairman of the Fremantle Tramway Board, and an ex-Mayor of the town, whose dead body was found in a storm-water drain on Friday last were investigated today by the Deputy-Coroner (Mr. F. E. Gibson, J.P.). Sgt. Clements assisted the Coroner.

Frederick Cridland (10), schoolboy, said that just before noon on Friday he was playing at a storm-water drain on Fremantle Esplanade. He noticed blood issuing from the drain, and inside the drain saw the body of a man. He went home and informed two other boys of what he had seen, and after dinner, accompanied by the two boys, he returned to the drain. Again he saw the body and then informed the police.

Constable Mounter said that about 2.30 p.m. on Friday he saw the body of a man about 15ft. up the drain, and with assistance of another constable, got the body out and removed it to the morgue.


Dr. Douglas Kerr, who conducted the post-mortem examination gave details of two wounds in deceased's throat. There was no evidence in the body of any serious disease. The heart and blood vessels were in excellent condition considering the age of deceased. He discovered nothing which would account for the depression from which deceased had suffered. Death was due to loss of blood and heart failure.

Edward Nicholas Bolt, tramway inspector, said that between 11 a.m. and noon on Friday he was driving in a sulky along Marine-terrace, Fremantle, and saw deceased walking, towards the town. As he drew near witness said "Good morning," but deceased took no notice, and witness called out again in a louder voice. Deceased merely stared at witness and did not reply. He then asked Mr. Wray if he was not feeling well, but received no answer to his inquiry. Deceased continued on his way and witness drove on. Some distance further on witness looked back and saw Mr. Wray near the Esplanade.

Evidence of identification was tendered by deceased's son, William Ernest Wray. He last saw his father alive on the Wednesday night previous. His father was then in bed, and had been in bad for the three days preceding. His health had been failing for some considerable time and he complained of pains in the head. Witness knew of no reason other than ill-health that might have induced his father to take his own life.

The Coroner returned a verdict that death was due to self-inflicted wounds: but at the time and immediately preceding his death deceased's mind was deranged as a result of ill-health.

The Daily News, Thursday 24 May 1928, page 1

Fremantle Library Local History Collection photo #1602C, 1914-18.

William Wray's tombstone, Fremantle Cemetery, Anglican AA.

Garry Gillard | New: 23 November, 2014 | Now: 28 April, 2020