Auckland Sinclair-Fullertons – in war & peace

My last post focused on the journey of two of my grandmother’s (Sinclair) aunts from Newcastle Upon Tyne to Auckland.  For a few years, the aunts Evelyn (1879-1953) and Isabella (1875-1965) lived with Evelyn’s husband, Dr Francis W Fullerton (1870-1953) and their daughter Gwendoline Eveline Fullerton (bn c. 1905) in Takapuna on Auckland’s North Shore.  In February 1919 they moved across the Waitemata Harbour to live in Remuera in Auckland city. They seemed to have very full and socially successful lives there.

Dr. Fullerton

Dr. Fullerton was a medical practitioner held in high regard. Along with several doctors in 1919, he signed a letter in support of prohibition, claiming that alcohol had a bad impact on the health of the community.  Dr Fullerton  frequently gave medical forensic evidence in court cases.  The NZ Truth, 4 December 1920, p.5, reports that Dr Fullerton gave evidence for a murder charge before the court:


“I Was Brought into the World with a Curse on Me.”

(From “Truth’s” Auckland Rep.)

At the Magistrate’s Court, Auckland, on Monday, Frederick Spierpoint. (26) was charged before Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M., that on November 3, at Henderson, he murdered his mother, Nora Blanche Spierpoint. Chief-Detective McMahon prosecuted and Mr. E. J. Prendergast appeared for the accused. Dr. Francis W. Fullerton, of Auckland, said that he went to Henderson on November 3 at about 1 p.m., and on arrival saw Mrs. Spierpoint lying on a couch IN her house. She was semi-conscious and was suffering from a large wound on the scalp.

Dr F W Fullerton Auckland Star 1935

Dr. F. W. FULLERTON, who has accepted the post of hon, medical officer to the Auckland City- Mission. Auckland Star, 4 February 1935, p.8

Gwendoline (Fullerton) Manning

In March 1919, Gwen was reported to have passed her Matriculation. In May 1919, the “Social Sphere Column of the Observer, reports that Gwen, dressed in early Victorian costume, was part of the fancy dress Grand March at a Myers Free Kindergarten fundraiser.  Miss (Isabella) Sinclair, and Dr and Mrs Fullerton were frequently mentioned in the society pages of the daily newspapers. For instance, Dr and Mrs Fullerton are listed as guests for weddings in the “Women’s World” section of the Auckland Star in November 1921 and  June 1930.

Gwen’s photography appears to have been well regarded in the city. She married Keith Manning on 13th June 1931, and left for the Federated Malay States the following week (Evening Post, 13 June 1931, p.8)

Gwen Keith Manning wedding Akl Star 1506193 p10
Mr & Mrs Keith Manning at their wedding: Auckland Star, 15 June 1931, p.10:

QUIET REMUERA WEDDING.—Mr. and Mrs. Keith Manning leaving St. Aidan’s after their marriage on Saturday. The bride was Miss Gwendoline E. Fullerton, who has achieved much success with her portraits of young Aucklanders.

The Auckland Star (Sat 13 June 1931, p.14) reports that at her wedding, Gwen wore,

a frock of Naples blue polka clotted ninon, ankle-length, with cape effect at the back, and navy blue hat.

Mannings, Singapore & World War II

Keith Wilson Manning, the son of Dr and Mrs Manning of Christchurch, was employed at a rubber plantation in Kuala Lumpar. His wife Gwen lived with him in Kuala Lumpar, where they had a son. When the Japanese took control of Singapore and the Malay Peninsula in 1942 as part of WWII, Keith Manning became a civilian prisoner of war. It is unclear whether Gwen was also a civilian prisoner of war. The Evening Post (of 24 February 1942, p.8), reports that she had recently arrived in Auckland to stay with her parents.  Keith Manning’s obituary (Auckland Star,25 September 1945, p.3), suggests she may have been an internee:


News that her husband, Mr. Keith Manning, died in Singapore on November 20 last has been received by Mrs. Gwen Manning, of Titirangi, one of the internees who recently arrived at Auckland from Malaya. Mr. Manning, who was 51 years of age had been a rubber planter in Malaya since the first World War. With the Japanese invasion he undertook police and patrol duties on the wharves and in the city of Singapore. After the fall of Singapore he was interned, first at Changi Camp and later at the Sime Road camp. At the Sime Road camp he was infected by a typhus-carrying form of tropical flea while cultivating a vegetable garden and succumbed to complications which are considered to have been due to malnutrition and lack of medical facilities for treating him. Mrs. Manning has been advised that her husband was buried by the Bishop of Singapore, who also died shortly afterwards. The bishop’s wife was another victim.

However, the confusion is clarified in the NZ Herald article of 25 September, 1945, p.6:

NEWS BROUGHT BY FRIEND First advice of the death of her husband, Mr Keith Manning, in Singapore on November 20 of last year, has been received by Mrs Given Manning, of Titirangi, from one of the New Zealand internees who recently arrived at Auckland from Malaya. […] Mr Manning was the son of Mrs Helen Manning and the late Dr Manning, of Devonport and Christchurch.

This must have been a devastating time for Gwen: a woman who had been used to a full and successful life  in Auckland society.

Beyond WWII

Dr. and Mrs Fullerton continued to live in Auckland, and died within a month of each other at the end of 1953.  Mrs Fullerton seems to have had the Sinclair talent for music.  She bequeathed her Bechstein Grand Piano to her grandson (Evelyn Fullerton Probate, Archive NZ Ref No: BBAE A645 1570 Box 1147; Record No: P2209/1953 – in Archives NZ Mangere). The executor of Dr Fullerton’s Will was his brother, Walter Ernest Fullerton, merchant in Auckland (also held in Archives NZ Mangere).

Dr. and Evelyn Fullerton are buried in Purewa Cemetery, and have a plaque in the plaque garden of the cemetery.

Francis Evelyn Fullerton cemetery plaque_1

Fancis Evelyn fullerton cemetery plaque_2

This is just a couple of minutes walk from where Evelyn and Isabella’s brother, James Sinclair, is buried in an unmarked grave.

Isabella spent her final years with with her niece, Gwen Manning in Kerikeri in the far north of New Zealand’s North Island. Isabella died in October 1965.  She left everything to her niece, executor of her Will, Gwendoline Eveline Manning of Kerikeri (Isabella Sinclair Probate, Archive NZ Ref No: BBNY A1346 10440 Box 45; Record No: 283/1965 – in Archives NZ Mangere).

Isabell was cremated at Purewa Cemetery.  Like her brother James, she does not seem to have a plaque to mark her passing.



Filed under Uncategorized

2 responses to “Auckland Sinclair-Fullertons – in war & peace

  1. My mother, Evelyn Sinclair Briggs, was I believe, a cousin of Gwen Manning’s and they corresponded for some years till she died. (It may be that my mother died first, i am not clear about when Gwen died, if indeed she already has?) My mother died of breast cancer in 1973 but loved the letters Gwen sent her and always dreamed of visiting NZ. They shared a firm belief in the afterlife which brought my mother great comfort. My mother’s mother was Grace Sinclair, and she married Dr. George Briggs of Hull. My mother was born, the 4th of 5 siblings, in 1912. I believe Grace was one of 13 children, but am not sure. I think it is from Grace’s siblings that the link with Gwen came. Sadly as my mother is not here to ask, I am not certain of exact relationship but my mother always referred to her as Cousin Gwen. My name is Heather Sinclair Buchanan and I am a children’s writer and illustrator in UK. I would love to be in contact with any of Gwen’s descents. I am putting my husband’s email here as my own is not working right now. This is all so interesting. Thank you for this lovely site. My site is
    With the best of wishes, and hoping to hear from you, Heather Roberts

  2. Pingback: Into the electric age: Marion M (Sinclair) Skelton (1883-1970) | Tangled Times

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