Thornton, John Charles (Mounted Police)

Date of Birth/Death:


John Charles Thornton served in the Mounted Police from 3 January 1878 to his death on 27 September, 1882.  Little is known of the life of John Charles Thornton before he joined the Mounted Police. He was born in . It is likely that they either came from Bath, Somerset or had family there.  After his appointment, he served in Brighton, where Julia gave birth to their infant daughter (Florence Evelyn Gray, b. 1879), and was then stationed at Willunga, probably early in 1880. On October 9, 1880, Constable Thornton was appointed Bailiff of the Willunga Court. Julia gave birth to a son (Thomas John Gray) in 1881. He and Julia appear to have embraced the community at Willunga. John was a member of the committee of the Willunga Agricultural Show, and Julia won enormous praise and prizes for her jams and conserves, particularly her pineapple preserve. On September 27 1882, at the age of 27, John died, presumably from an illness.   The newspapers at the time reported the following account:

…his demise being deeply regretted by the inhabitants, by whom he was greatly respected. He was universally liked by all the members of the Mounted Police, was an energetic officer, a faithful friend, and good comrade. The funeral, which took place on the 29th, was attended by a large number of the residents, the shops, &c, during the passing of the cortege through the township being closed. Five mounted constables bore the body to the grave, deceased’s horse following, fully equipped, the accoutrements being placed upon the coffin. Upon their removal a large white cross and wreaths of flowers were substituted. Much sympathy is expressed on behalf of Mrs. Thornton, who is left with two young children. (1)

John Thornton is buried in an unmarked grave at St Stephens Anglican Cemetery. Julia and her children seem to have left Willunga after John’s death and nothing more is known of them.


1878 ‘GOVERNMENT GAZETTE.’Adelaide Observer, 5 January, p. 3, viewed 09 Jan 2024,

1879 ‘CORONER’S INQUEST.’, South Australian Chronicle and Weekly Mail, 29 March, p. 4. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN CHRONICLE), viewed 09 Jan 2024,

1881 ‘Family Notices’South Australian Register, 5 July, p. 4, viewed 09 Jan 2024,

1882 ‘AGRICULTURAL SHOWS.’, South Australian Register, 11 March, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN REGISTER.), viewed 09 Jan 2024

(1) 1882 ‘WILLUNGA, September 31.‘, South Australian Register, 9 October, p. 7, viewed 09 Jan 2024

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