'Don't be a fool! Drive on!'

In 1884 at the Temperance Hall in Balmain, 29-year-old John Gurr married his sweetheart Mary Brown Telfer, 12 years his junior. It would be a loving and committed relationship that would last until one fateful night.


The couple didn't wait to start their family, with the arrival of their son Reginald a year after their marriage, followed by their two daughters Isabella in 1892 and Alice in 1903. John was an ironmonger and he and Mary made their home in the inner west of Sydney in the suburb of Burwood.


On the night of March 20, 1925, John and Mary had gone to visit friends in Five Dock. It would have been a cool autumn night and the elderly couple may have been rugged up against the cold when at 8.30pm they left Brent Street, having disembarked from the bus that had taken them up Parramatta Road.

A Hudson Super Six First Generation. Photo: By D. Miller from MI. USA - 1917 Hudson Super Six Phaeton ???, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51084747


Greengrocer, Hugh Wells said he heard a sudden screeching noise like brakes on a motor- car. What he heard was the reaction of Joseph Boland as he hit both John and Mary Gurr while they crossed the road. When Mr Wells turned towards the sound, he saw the couple lifted up in the air and land on the ground.


According to Mr Wells the car paused, the driver stood up and looked around and then did the unthinkable. He sat down again and drove off as fast as he could. In his haste, he drove over John and Mary who were lying injured on the road.


John was dead on arrival at the hospital, but Mary lingered for another hour before she too, passed away. Police were looking for the driver of a Hudson Super-six car. Only two days later, brothers John and Francis Boland were detained by police in Goulburn. The damage to their Hudson car showed its involvement in the tragedy.

The headstone of John and Mary Gurr in Rookwood cemetery, after being hit and killed by a car driven by Joseph Boland. Courtesy Findagrave


The brothers made identical statements to the police of the events with Frank quoted as saying:

"My brother attempted to get out of the car - to go back to the man and woman, but I caught hold of him, pulling him back into the seat, saying: 'Don't be a fool! Drive on!'


Which the brothers did, stopping a few streets on to inspect the damage made to their car.

Joseph was charged with driving a car in a manner dangerous to the public and both were charged of slaying, with bail at 500 pounds each.


Other evidence given stated Mary tried to rush past the oncoming car, but John held her back by the arm. When she realised she was going to be hit, she covered her face with her hands.


John and Mary Gurr are buried side by side in Rookwood cemetery.


References

  • 'Births and marriages', Births, Deaths Marriages, NSW, accessed 1st October, 2022, www.bdm.nsw.gov.au

  • 'Elucidating mystery of the Blue Hudson Super Six', Truth, Sunday 5 April, 1925, Page 11

  • 'Remanded again', Dungog Chronicle: Durham and Gloucester Advertiser, Friday 3 April, 1925, Page 2

  • 'Joseph Boland for Trial', Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Tuesday 7 April, 1925, Page 2



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