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5The Independent Weekly
grave and beyond
We don t have the Vigilance
Association any more. Which is, of
course, a pity. It would be amusing
to see what they might complain
about in 2010.
Now, we have science.
Malcolm Simpson is an Adelaide
businessman. He s a success in
most of what he does, including a
15-year stint as executive chair of
the Adelaide 36ers basketball team.
"All my life, we ve lived with
the story that Charles Cameron
Kingston was our ancestor,"
Malcolm told The Independent
Weekly on Tuesday.
"Every time we went through
Victoria Square we d pass
Kingston s statue, and we d say
There he is . Our ancestor."
In March 2008, exactly 100 years
after he was put into the ground,
Kingston was unearthed. His body
was exhumed to have his DNA
Charles Kingston had been
suspected of a liaison with
Grace McCreanor, a household
servant. Nine months after one of
these liaisons, a baby girl called
Genevieve came into the world,
and whoever her father was little
Genevieve couldn t say.
But her mother Grace could, and
Genevieve was fostered out at the
age of four or five, and at the age of
eight was sent to an orphanage. She
married, eventually, and had her
own family, and this line of descend-
ants comes down to Malcolm
Simpson, who now sits and thinks
of days when men were men, and
Charles was a gutless womaniser.
"Can you imagine what it was
like for her?" Malcolm asks. "There
she was, eight years old, in an
orphanage, no mother and a father
whose name she knows, who s
famous, flattered, the premier of
the state, who won t acknowledge
her or even acknowledge that she s
alive. She (Genevieve) would have
thought: What s wrong with me?
Why am I to blame? She would have
thought it was her fault, as a little
Malcolm and his sister did some
With the help of the Kingston
Research Group, whose members
include former premier John
Bannon and Attorney-General
John Rau, Michael learnt from
public records that Kingston had
been in Adelaide in the six weeks
either side of Genevieve s concep-
They checked with other family
relatives: all had had the same
story handed down, generation to
generation. Kingston was alleged to
have fathered other children out-of-
wedlock, including the offspring of
housekeeper Priscilla Holt.
Exhumination samples from
Kingston s grave and from
Genevieve and another suspected
relative, Bert Edwards, were sent to
the University of Adelaide.
DNA tests were done, re-done and
The father of Australian
Federation had fathered a genera-
tion of adults and children now
scattered from Perth to Brisbane,
and centred in Adelaide.
Not everyone was initially
happy with the exhumation.
Some extended family members,
particularly the line that descended
legitimately from Kingston s
brother Strickland, were aghast to
read about it in the press.
Malcolm acknowledges that he
and his side of the family should
have included them early in the
process, and his genuine apology
for that oversight has been equally
Meanwhile, as a result of these
DNA tests, even more family
members have been discovered.
Cousins, uncles, aunts, nieces
and nephews, some of whom had
not known of each other s existence
until a few months ago, came
together in Adelaide on Tuesday
for the public announcement of
Kingston s progeny.
"It s closure," said Malcolm.
"It s a relief. Mostly, it s closure for
Genevieve. It s for her, as much as
So what does he think of his
great-great grandfather now?
"A great man," says Malcolm.
"One of the great figures of
Australian history. And his
personal behaviour? Well ... it was
regrettable, but perhaps not uncom-
mon. But I feel a great pride."
So from beyond the grave,
indiscretions can and have been
discovered, or uncovered, more
than a century later.
Dead men tell no tales, the old
Ah yes, but actions speak louder
Photo: State Library/B1848
Former SA premier John Bannon and
below, Malcolm Simpson.
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