Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Positivist Tragedy

One man's obsession with another member of his religious group in the early 20th century led to a double murder and suicide, causing the group to break apart.

William Macdonald, a carpenter and Marxist became intersted in Positivism, the religion of those who attended the Temple of Humanity in Upper Parliament street in the early 20th century. 

The leader of the Positivists was solicitor Sydney Style and weekly meetings were held at 69 Hope Street. At these meetings MacDonald became interested in 42 year old Mary Crompton, the daughter of the groups co-founder, but he daren't express this. Crompton was good friends with Paul Gaze, who was 18 years younger than her. MacDonald believed there was more to this friendship, despite Gaze's recent marriage to a Brazilian girl.

On the night of 7th October 1913 Macdonald decided to take matters to a head. First he went to the home of Richard Price Roberts, who first introduced him to the Temple of Humanity. Roberts was shot twice, but only one bullet connected and went straight through his nose, leaving him bruised but alive. Minutes later, Paul Gaze was shot dead at his lodgings in Grove Street. 

Next stop for MacDonald was 81 Bedford Street South, home of Miss Crompton, where he shot her in the head, killing her instantly. MacDonald then turned the gun on himself and died from his injuries in hospital three hours later. After these events the Positivists gradually disbanded.

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