Triple Tradedy of a Man who Loved Two Women - Wellington 1928
the 3 people involved in the Triple Suicide ...
? Harold WILSON aged 30
- a Confectionery & Pastrycook, engaged to Flora, worked, & 'went out', with Ivy
- was buried Plot 7 X, SOLDIERS, at Karori on 18 Jan 1928
? Flora McMURTRIE aged 27
- daughter of Andrew McMURTRIE (1872-1962) & Matilda TRICKLEBANK (1874-1923) of Kimbolton, Manawatu
- engaged to Harold
- Flora was buried Plot 73 X, PUBLIC2 at Karori on 20 Jan 1928
? Ivy WALTON aged 17
- daughter of James Alfred WALTON (1884-1968) & ?? of Miramar, Wellington
- worked and 'went out' with Harold
- Ivy was buried Plot 206 X, PUBLIC2 at Karori on 17 Jan 1928
Behind the triple suicide of Harold Wilson and Ivy Walton at Lyall Bay and Flora McMurtire at 100A Tasman Street, (Mount Cook), Wellington, is a tragic story of two young girls betrayed by a faithless lover. Wilson's dual capacity for intrigue led to these two girls - one of them only seventeen - taking their own lives.
Flora McMurtire, or McLean, as she was known to her friends, sought death because of a broken heart and because the handsone young man to whom she was soon to be married had committed suicide with another girl
TRIPLE TRAGEDY of MAN WHO LOVED TWO WOMEN
... NZ Truth, 26 January 1928 ...
Harold Wilson, with the guilt of his double life weighing heavily upon him, no doubt saw in death the only way out of his dilemma.
Ivy Walton, just sweet seventeen, out of the love she bore him and under his persuasion and dominance, faced death with the man who had declared her to be the only girl in his life.
Pretty Flora McMurtrie worked as a tailoress. Her quiet life away from her own people was shared by only one other - her girl friend (Jessie Gladys Pemberton 1897-1978, daughter of David Wassell PEMBERTON (1873-1925) & Jessie Mary SMITH (1873-1948) who married in Dunedin 1893.
Happy, care-free girls they were, with never a thought of the dark clouds of impending tragedy which overshadowed the life of one of them.
Together they lived in a three-roomed cottage, their pleasant companionship free from petty jealousies or disputes. And so they travelled along the road of life ...
Their day's work over, they returned to the haven of their own little home, busying themselves with preparations for tea, while discussing with pleasurable anticipatoin an excursion for the evening.
In sickness and in health they stood by each other - and many were the tests their friendships survived.
Not set among ideal surroundings, they nevertheless came to love every blade of grass around their home, the little lane and the tumbledown fences just as much as they did the interior of their cosy quarters.
Came a time, however, when the shy glances of one of them began to wander across the vacant section to meet the bold gaze of a young man who lived in the next house. (photo of which is at Matilda Tricklebank's link above). Tall and handsome, in the eyes of Flora McMurtrie, at least, he was good to look upon. As time wore on, it became a habit of hers to look for his appearance at the close of day. He too was attracted by the bright, well-built young girl who crossed his line of vision every evening.
Like all girls, the two friends discussed the tall, handsome, stranger across the way, but for Flora he held more than a passing interest.
Perhaps even at that early stage of her tragic acquaintance with the man, he stirred within her the inevitable and instinctive call of Love.
Ultimately they met - the man and the two girls, but it was to Flora alone that Harold Wilson devoted his attention. To her he paid court and finally asked her to accompaby him to the movies.
That was the beginning of their ill-fated acquaintance - an acquaintance that blossomed into love and finally resulted in a triple tragedy.
Flora and her girl friend still continued their companionship, but whereas all before had been bound up in their two selves, the former now thought more of her lover, Harold Wilson.
Her trips abroad with her friend became less frequent and - although they still had their own little confidences - Flora's evenings were almost invariably spent in the company of the man who was rapidly beginning to occupy her whole life.
Love is ever blind and she did not see - or seem to realize - that her girl friend, Jessie Pemberton, had now to spend her evenings alone.
Those evenings to which they had so looked forward in the past were given up to Wilson.
Across the vacant section he was in the habit of making his way to chat with Flora and Jessie.
But there always came the time when he would take the girl who had seemingly captivated him to some evening entertainment or for a quiet walk.
He wanted her to himself and as they walked along - as lovers do - they found complete happiness in each other's company.
FLORA McMURTRIE, the fiancee, who concealed her identity under the name of McLean, a bright and jolly girl, generally known to her friends as "Mac".
HAROLD WILSON, the man, whose fatal fascination resulted in the death of two young girls. To him Flora McMurtrie became engaged, only to commit suicide when his duplicity was revealed to her.
IVY WALTON, the seventeen-year-old girl, who, under the influence of Wilson, left her home and committed suicide with him at the house he rented at Lyall Bay, Wellington.
JESSIE GLADYS PEMBERTON, the girl pal of Flora McMurtrie, whose tears are now her only solace in the loneliness that lies ahead.
With the passage of months he had wooed and won her - she, with the full capacity of her trusting nature, believing that he had given her his heart. With unfailing punctuality, each Sunday evening he crossed over from his lodgings to have tea with the girl whom he had promised to make his wife, while in the evening's fading light they walked together and planned the future.
There was no flare of trumpets over their engagement; in fact, he did not even buy her a ring, but promised to do so a few short weeks ahead. There was a mutual understanding and this sufficed for Flora. Her mother being dead, she had no close relative in whom to confide her happy secret. Her father, whom she had not seen for four years, and who lived in another town, would not understand - what man ever does?
Wilson's parents were far away in the Old Country. Perhaps he wrote to them telling of the young girl who had entrusted her future safe-keeping to his hands...
Therefore, in their little home, Jessie was the only one to whom Flora told the great news. And during their comfidences, she imparted precious items of information concerning the future. For had not Flora and Harold planned! Planned of the many things they would do and of the home they would build, when in the near future they would journey through life together, sharing alike the trials and tribulations of holy matrimony.
Of these and other things, Flora had told Jessie, who found genuine pleasure in the happiness of her friend. But sometimes the evenings were lonely and she longed for companionship. She could only sit and think of her friend's future - that Flora would have her engagement ring early in the New year and then, before many weeks had passed, she would be a blushing bride.
To Jessie this meant the breaking up of their little home, where she had spent so much of their time together. Nor could she stay there by herself, with only the memories of the joys that the past had held.
Silently and sorrowfully communing over these things, Jessie decided to return to her mother's home and not wait until the day when Wilson would take Flora from her as his wife.
It was only a matter of a few short months and Flora would not miss her. For did she not have right next door to her the man who was soon to be her husband - to watch and care for her in a little home of their own?. They would get along quite well without her, thought Jessie, planning, as they often did, how they would save their money together and - in the fullness of time - return to the land of his fathers across the sea.
And so it came about, though the two girls still carried on their former relationship to the extent that they always returned to the little cottage for tea.
In the early evening they chatted together until Jessie left to catch her train for home.
That was early in November of last year. Flora was happy in her love and in the belief that soon she would be united in marriage to the man who had won her heart. She was not lonely, for on those evenings when her handsome lover was unable to devote his time to her, she occupied herself with thought of the future ...
But now the picture changes! Where was Harold Wilson on those evenings when he was not in the company of his fiancee?
Harold Wilson, the young baker's assistant whose duplicity has sent two innocent girls to their graves.
At the confectionery and pastrycook shop where Wilson worked, a number of young girls were also employed. Among their number was pretty Ivy Walton, petite and - at the time Wilson knew her - not yet 17. She was fascinated by his manly bearing and handsome features. He, faithless scoundrel that he proved to be, whispered words of love in her ear and secretly took her out, no doubt leading her to believe that she was the only girl in his life.
On those occasions when he was not with Flora, apparently he spent his time in the company of Ivy Walton, luring her with false promises.
They kept company for some months and on one occasion the girl took him to her father's home. However, James Alfred Walton, Ivy's father, took an instinctive dislike to Wilson and forbade his daughter to have anything to do with the man. He knew, nevertheless, that they both worked at the same shop and could not stop the girl from seeing Wilson. When he could not meet her, they corresponded in secret - this young girl whose father was making strenuous endeavors to protect her and the man whose dual capacity for love eventually led to a triple tragedy.
And Flora, during this period of months, in the innocence of her heart was placing all her trust and hope in the man who returned to her with sullied lips and soul - sullied because of the bitter lies he told her and the unworthiness that was his.
The weeks passed and Christmas drew near. The two girls who were such close friends, meeting every day after their work, carried on in the same way, having tea together, a quiet tete-a-tete, then parting - one to go home the other to walk with her lover.
During the holidays, Wilson took his fiancee about, telling her that in the New Year he would buy her the coveted ring.
At the beginning of this month he contemplated a trip to Auckland, so he told her, to collect some money which had been sent out to him from England. And she - in the blindness of her love - believed him.
That was on January 3, when Wilson told his landlady he was starting on the trip to Auckland. But over the last twelve days, since December 22, to be precise, he had rented a house at Lyall Bay, Wellington. Under the name of Rawlins, he approached the owner of the house in answer to an advertisement and told him he wanted to take the place for three weeks for an uncle and aunt from Palmerston North.
Wilson's plausible tongue was capable of meeting the situation and he lied with all the fluency of which he was capable.
Well provided with cash, he paid the three weeks' rent in advance and told the owner he would return the keys at the expiration of the allotted time.
Over the Christmas holiday period he had the tenancy of this house and on January 3 he went to live there ... while the girl who had given him her heart was waiting patiently for his return, under the impression that he had gone to Auckland.
What a cruel delusion ... but what a terrible awakening was shortly to follow for this trusting girl!
And Wilson all this time was at Lyall Bay. Flora, bright and happy, went about her little home, the happy hours lightly flying by on the wings of love.
And what of pretty 17 year old Ivy Walton? On the night of January 5, she failed to return to her home.
As the evening wore on her parents became perturbed and instituted a search. But in vain. Knowing that their young daughter had been keeping company with Wilson, Walton and his wife called at 104 Tasman Street, the house where they knew Wilson had been living. All the consolation they received was that the elisive lover who had been paying court to their daughter, had left a few days previously for Auckland. That, at all events, must have been some consolation to the distracted parents.
The next morning the father notified the police that his daughter was missing. Another girl called at the house and told him that Ivy had not been to work that day ...
A week dragged by and still no news of the missing girl.
Alfred Walton never again saw his daughter alive.
On the tenth day following her disappearance, the blow fell, Walton was notified that his daughter's body was lying at the morgue.
There had been no quarrel in the family circle - yet the girl who had left her home so bright and cheerful was now dead. Ivy Walton had made a last tragic tryst with Harold Wilson and he had taken her to the house at Lyall Bay. Whatever had been their relations, he had dominated her will to such an extent that she had suffered herself to take the final plunge and pass with him into the Great Beyond.
What was it that decided Wilson to take his own life in company with the girl whom he had lured from home?
Was it cowardice and fear of the ultimate exposure of his treachery that bit deep into his craven heart and induced him to take the fatal step?
Surely it would have been all-sufficient had he paid the price of his sins with his own life, without taking with him a young girl whose inexperienced feet were just on the threshold of Life. But there at Lyall Bay, Wilson went about his grim preparations without undue haste. Purchasing a length of tubber tubing, he cut through the gas-pipe leading to the gas-stove in the kitchen. To this he attached the length of tubing, running it through the passage to the bedroom. Locking all the doors and windows lying with his arm around the young girl whom he professed to love, he turned on the deadly gas and waited for the end.
Before he took this last step, however, Wilson wrote a note to the landlord to the effect that he would call and leave the keys at his office that evening (Thursday).
Ivy Walton wrote farewell letters to her mother and step-brother (Ralph Martindale 1901-1979 who married Ella Charlotte BASIRE on 26 Dec that year), intimating her intention of taking her life in company with Wilson. Whether she gave any reason for this tragic decision only her relatives known.
Wilson also wrote two letters, but to whom they were addressed has not been disclosed.
The landlord, seeking possession of the house, called to see the occupants, but the doors were locked and he went away. On the Saturday, however, he called again in company with a constable and peered through the bedroom window. Just one glance ... and then the door was burst open.
The whole house was reeking with gas fumes and stark tragedy lay revealed, for there on the bed were the bodies of Wilson and the girl - locked in each other's arms ...
An now the scene moves again to the little cottage in Tasman Street, where lived vivacious Flora McMurtrie, looking forward with eager anticipation to her lovers' return. But, alas! she was never again to see alive the man to whom she had given her heart. When the news reached her that her fiancee had committeed suicide by gas poisoning, in company with Ivy Walton, the stricken girl never recovered from the blow.
To Jessie, her dearest friend, she turned for solace. But her heart was broken. And on the Monday following the double tragedy at Lyall bay, Flora decided that she could not face her work-mates. She wished to be alone with her sorrow ... to forget, if that were possible. With Jessie, she returned to her home, the little cottage where so many happy hours had been spent in the company of the man who had so cruelly betrayed her trust. How bleak and desolate it all seemed then - bleak and empty like her heart ...
Jessie made her friend comfortable on the little sofa in the kitchen and there sat talking in a brave endeavor to help Flora forget the tragic past. She tried to persuade her to go to bed, but the other girl refused, saying she was quite comfortable where she was and would read for a while. And so the afternoon faded and dusk came. At nine o?lock Jessie rose to leave, telling her friend she would return on the morrow.
"If I had only known, I would never have left her," said this grief-stricken girl later, for it was after she left that the last act in this tragivc drama was enacted.
Flora, in her solitude, could not forget her unhappiness, for now she did not have the company of her friend to take her mind from those recent terrible happenings.
The hours wore on ... until at last she could no longer stand the torment of her thoughts. She too, would follow her unfaithful lover to the grave. How long it took her to reach this decision only the silent midnight hours could tell.
Sitting there alone, Flora penned a short farewell letter to her friend. She was broken-hearted, she said, and could stand the strain no longer. She also wrote to a man named Charles Gray, telling him of her intention. In her tiny kitchen was a gas-ring attached to a length of tubing, Detaching the ring, she brought the tube over to the sofa, resting it on a footstool a few feet from where her head would lie on the cushion. Almost simultaneously she must have turned on the gas at the tap and the light bracket ... and then lay down on the couch, pulling a blanket over her.
The poisonous fumes soon accomplished their deadly work and when the morning sun rose above the eastern sky yet another tragedy was revealed.
When Flora failed to maker her appearance at work on the Tuesay, her employer called at the house, but received no response. He then rang up Jessie on the telephone, telling her of his fears and asking her to come round. Jessie arrived without delay, but her voice of entreaty received no answering call from the girl within. Flora had passed beyond human aid.
Thoroughly alarmed, Jessie crossed over to the house in which Wilson had so lately resided and called the police.
A constable soon arrived and, being unable to force the door, he effected an entry to the cottage through the bedroom window. An overpowering odour of gas greeted him. In the kitchen he found the body of Flora, lying on the sofa, still covered by the rug ...
When the inquest concerning the death of Harold Wilson and Ivy Walton was being held, the police were even then investigating the tragic fate of the third victim.
At the first inquest, Coroner Riddell said there was no evidence to show why Wilson and the girl had decided to take their own lives, but from the letters their intention was clear.
Wilson, said the Coroner, was considerably older than the girl and possibly dominated her to a certain extent. He returned a verdict that the young lovers died of gas poisoning, self inflicted.
When, two days later, Coroner Riddell was investigating the death of Flora McMurtire, he characterised Wilson as a scoundrel, who not only committed suicide himself, had wrecked the lives of two young women.
The shock and depression from which she was suffering must have been responsible for the girl, in ths instance, taking her own life, and he entered a verdict accordingly.
Andrew McMurtrie, father of the dead girl, a farmer residing at Apiti, near Kimbolton, said his daughter was born on February 21, 1900. He had last seen her about four years ago, when she was living with a married daughter at Feilding.
Charles Gray, an elderly hairdresser, living off Tinakori Road, Wellington, told the Coroner that he had acquainted with Flora for eight years and the last time he saw her alive was some five months ago. He had received a ltter from her.
Why Flora McMurtrie, while living in Tasman Street, should have gone under the name of McLean, is not known, That is the name by which she was known to the neighbours and to her frined, Jessie, though at work she was generally called "Mac"
SCENE of DOUBLE SUICIDE, 183 Sutherland road, Lyall Bay, Wellington
... taken from Papers Past NZ Truth 26 January 1928 Page 7 ...