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Title: The Sandhills: An Historic Cemetery
Author: A G Foster
eBook No.: 2100351h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: July 2021
Most recent update: July 2021

This eBook was produced by: Colin Choat

View our licence and header

The Sandhills: An Historic Cemetery


A G Foster


[Edited by Colin Choat]

A paper read before the Royal Australian Historical Society October 29, 1918
Arthur George Foster

Wholly set up and printed in Australia by D. S. Ford,
729 George Street, Sydney.

Editor's note

Mr Foster noted, near the end of the address recorded here:

The name Devonshire Street Cemetery could fairly be applied to those sections which faced or extended to that street, but is somewhat of a misnomer when describing the original Burial Ground, which faced Belmore Park. For lack of a better name, I and others refer to it as the "Sandhills Cemetery." It was a sandhill when Macquarie chose it, and when the memorials and remains of the pioneers were removed it became a sandhill once again.

The "sandhill" no longer exists. Since 1902 the land has formed part of Sydney's Central Railway Station.

This ebook is intended as a resource to accompany my List of Burials for Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney, New South Wales which is available at Project Gutenberg Australia. A list of the names of people mentioned in this address, who were buried in Devonshire Street cemetery, is provided at the end of this ebook. Go to the list of burials and click on the PN (person number) for more information about the person.

I have added a Table of Contents and a List of the Images which were included in the original publication.

This ebook is based on an online file, The Sandhills: an historic cemetery, held by the State Library of Victoria.

Table of Contents

Editor's note
Creation of the Sandhills (Devonshire Street) Cemetery
Description of the Cemetery and Surrounds
Tour of Graves
List of Names of People Mentioned in this Address, who Appear on the
"List of Burials for Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney, New South Wales"

List of Images

Gravestone of a "First Fleeter."
Memorial of the First Interment in the Sandhills Cemetery.
A portion of the Sandhills Cemetery, showing the broken column.
Tomb of George Howe, the first Government Printer, who was buried in
the same grave as Edward Wills.
Keystone of the house of Isaac Nichols, the first post-office in Australia.
b. Tombstone of Isaac Nichols, who died Nov. 8, 1819.
Mr Foster renovating an inscription
Mrs Foster sitting in Devonshire Street cemetery

Creation of the Sandhills (Devonshire Street) Cemetery

In the Sydney Gazette, of Saturday, January 22, 1820, may be seen the following announcement:—

"Circumstances arising out of the nature and quality of the ground heretofore used as a place of Burial, within the Town of Sydney, rendering it offensive to the inhabitants in the neighbourhood, it has been deemed expedient to discontinue it for that purpose altogether, and that a place not liable to similar objections should be selected of an extent proportioned to the increase of the population.* For that purpose His Excellency the Governor has lately caused a spacious burial ground to be prepared and enclosed with a wall, situated at a short distance beyond the Brickfields, which is henceforth only to be used as a place of interment for the accommodation of the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Sydney. Previous, however, to its being made a place of interment, the ground thus appropriated for this solemn and sacred purpose will be consecrated by the Reverend the Principal Chaplain, which ceremony stands appointed to take place on Thursday next, the 27th instant, when divine service will be performed at the Church of St. Phillip's, Sydney, at the hour of eleven in the forenoon. And it is further notified, ordered, and directed, that from and after the 28th instant, all funerals are to take place at the said new burial ground, and that from henceforth the old burial ground, which has been enclosed with a wall, will be totally closed up, and no further access suffered to be had thereto for purposes of interment.

By His Excellency's Command,
J. T. Campbell, Secretary.

[* The old burial ground referred to was situated on the site of the present Sydney Town Hall, George Street, Sydney. Ed.]

The Gazette, of Saturday, January 29, 1820, contains further particulars:—

The new burial ground at the Brickfield, having undergone the Ceremony of Consecration, is henceforth to be used exclusively as the place of interment by the inhabitants of Sydney and its neighbourhood. And the former burial ground, situated within the town of Sydney, having in consequence of the opening of the new burial ground, according to the Ceremonies of the Church of England, been securely shut up, by the gate being closed, barred and locked so as to preclude all access thereto, unless on occasions of necessity, such as shall be authorised by the Assistant Chaplain at Sydney, it is hereby notified, ordered, and directed, that no person or persons shall enter the said ground without obtaining such permission from the Assistant Chaplain.

It being reported that certain persons have been hitherto in the habit of drivings pigs, cows, and horses into the old burial ground, to the great offence of decency, it is hereby notified that any animals which shall hereafter be found either in the old or new burial ground will be impounded for trespass, and the owners prosecuted for a misdemeanour. It being necessary that certain regulations should be laid down in order to preserve the future Regularity of interments in the new burial ground, it is ordered and directed that from the present Date:

1. That no vaults or graves be made without the knowledge of the Chaplain on Duty at Sydney, and that all interments shall be attended by the said Chaplain, unless prevented by sickness or other unavoidable cause.

2. That all vaults shall be of the same length, however they may vary in breadth, and be placed uniformly in line with each other, and all placed on one particular Side of the burial ground, under the direction of the Assistant Chaplain of Sydney.

3. That the ordinary description of graves, whether with or without tomb or headstone, be also uniformly placed in line with each other, extending east and west, according to the order established in the Mother Country, and that the distances between graves be not made unnecessarily great.

4. That a portion of the burial ground, occupying one corner thereof, be set apart by the Assistant Chaplain for peculiar and special purposes, at the direction of the said Chaplain.

5. That the Parish Clerk do keep a register distinct from that kept by the Chaplain containing the name of each person interred, the date of interment, and the situation interred in, and that the interments shall be numbered annually.

6. As the foregoing arrangements and the increased distance of the present burial ground must necessarily occasion much additional trouble to the Chaplain and Parish Clerk, His Excellency is pleased further to order and direct that the Chaplain who shall perform the funeral service and the Parish Clerk in attendance thereon, shall receive instead of the former rate of funeral fees, according to the following Scale, viz.:—

The chaplain for interring a free person, 5/-; Clerk attending ditto, 2/6. And the grave digger—provided he reside in the lodge prepared for him on the spot—shall receive for each grave made by him for any free person, the sum of two shillings and sixpence.

The fee to be paid the person who tolls the church bell shall continue as heretofore, namely, sixpence.

By His Excellency's command,
J. T. Campbell, secretary.

Description of the Cemetery and Surrounds

The site chosen for the new burial ground was one of a range of sandhills lying south of the Brickfields, from which it was separated by a valley known to us as Belmore Park and the Haymarket.

Through this valley a stream of water flowed, crossing George Street near its intersection with Hay Street, and emptied into Cockle Bay—now known as Darling Harbour—at that time much nearer George Street than it is to-day.

It is easy to picture a stream of water running into the harbour at the foot of Brickfield Hill; but not so easy to picture a stream crossing George Street near Goulburn street; yet such was the case, and both there and at the Haymarket bridges were erected across these streams.

We can gain some idea of the changed configuration of Brickfield Hill by recalling the fact that in the thirties*, not less than one million cubic feet of earth was removed from the hill and placed in the valley below. By such means, hills, hollows and rivulets so completely disappeared that to-day one can scarcely believe they ever existed. The Toll Bar and the Carters' Barracks, built in 1819, and the Benevolent Asylum, erected in 1820, were the cemetery's nearest neighbours at that period. A plan of Sydney, bearing the date 1822, gives one an excellent idea as to how this southern part of the town looked nearly a hundred years ago.

[* the eighteen-thirties]

Eighty years passed away, and the town of Sydney grew into a great city. The quiet cemetery saw the Brickfields transformed, and the adjoining sandhills covered with houses; witnessed the disappearance of rivulets, shrub and wildflower, and then its own turn came, and the historic cemetery where "The rude forefathers of the hamlet slept" is now but a memory of "Old Sydney."

Through this cemetery, by means of the many pictures to be thrown upon the screen, we are about to wend our way. We shall see the graves of men and women whose services to the colony were so great and whose lives were so full of incident and adventure that nothing short of a volume would be needed to recount them. And now let us turn back the wheels of time for near a score of years, and accepting me as your guide, take a ramble through one of the most historic cemeteries in Australia.

Before we enter the gates, we will view the cemetery from an elevation, and so we ascend to the roof of Anthony Hordern's furniture warehouse, then in Gipps Street, Haymarket. From this altitude we get the fine panoramic view shown on the screen.

At the corner of Pitt Street and Belmore Road we see the old tram sheds. Adjoining these, are buildings approximately on the site of the old Carters' Barracks.

The Convent of the Good Samaritan was built, it is said, in front of the barracks, while the Female Refuge, to the south of this, occupies the site of the House of Correction, in which stood that old instrument of punishment—the treadmill. Between these buildings and the Benevolent Asylum stood the cottage, for many years the residence of the Inspector-General of Police, Capt. McLerie. The two-storied house nearer the asylum is Christ's Church Rectory. At one time the watch-house was on that spot, but an exchange was effected, and the watch-house was erected at the intersection of George and Pitt streets, on the triangular corner which was part of the church land.

The Benevolent Asylum stands out well in the picture, as does also the old railway station beyond.

The cemetery is clearly shown; the northern part is the Church of England section. This is separated from the Roman Catholic and Presbyterian sections by a brick wall, surmounted by a stone coping; the Presbyterian portion ran at the back of the asylum fence, right to Devonshire Street, and east of this was the Friends' Meeting House and small burial ground; then the Congregational, Wesleyan, and Jewish sections, which faced Devonshire Street, opposite the railway station, and access was gained from that street.

The older portion fronted Belmore Park, and was separated from it by Belmore Road, a winding thoroughfare that ran from Pitt to Elizabeth streets. From this road—which is now completely obliterated—one passed through an iron gateway into the cemetery. If we now cross to Elizabeth Street, we get from another elevation an excellent, though not a complete, view of what became known as the Church of England section, though it should be remembered that here members of all religious denominations were at first buried. It is to this portion we shall to-night confine our rambles.

At the corner of Belmore Road we pause for a moment to glance at the high wall in Elizabeth Street, which formed the eastern boundary of the burial ground. From this we can mentally picture the high sandhills shown in the map of 1822. Now, presently, we reach the entrance gates, and passing in, bid good-day to the veteran caretaker—Edward Broomfield—whom we see seated on the verandah of the little cottage, and, wending our way along a path bordered with trees and flowers, we soon reach the south-western corner of the ground where the first interment took place in 1819.

Tour of Graves

Presently we shall visit the grave of Quarter-Master McDonald [the first burial in the cemetery], but I shall give pride of place to the First Fleeters, the men and women who arrived with Governor Phillip.

'Tis true also that they left England for reasons vastly different to those which animated the breasts of their kinsmen on the Mayflower. But if they were not Puritans, they were at least patriots, for, in a famous and familiar poem we are told:—

"They left their country for their country's good,
And none will doubt but that their emigration
Has proved most useful to the British nation."

The author of those lines little thought that beneath his playful sarcasm was the spirit of true prophesy. Who, to-day, would say that our wheat, our wool, and our Anzacs have not proved useful to the British nation. Another century hence a sentiment will have grown round the graves of our pioneers, and the few monuments that perchance remain, will be carefully preserved. The day may not be far distant when this Society will be in a position to preserve some of the landmarks connected with our early history, and not the least interesting to posterity will be the graves of the First Fleeters.

The first grave we shall visit is that of James Squire, of Kissing Point, whose quaint and historic epitaph is of sufficient interest without any words of mine.

In Sacred Respect
to the Remains of
late of Kissing Point,
who departed this life May 16th, 1822,
Aet 67 Years.
He arrived in this Colony in the First Fleet,
and by Integrity and Industry
acquired and maintained an unsullied Reputation.
Under his Care
the HOP PLANT was first Cultivated
in this Settlement, and
the first BREWERY was Erected,
which progressively matured to Perfection.
As a Father,
a Husband, a Friend, and a Christian
He lived Respected and died Lamented.
Son of the above,
who Died MARCH 5th, 1826,
Aged, 28 years.

The site of this early brewery and hop garden can still be pointed out. Somewhere in that garden was laid to rest the remains of the celebrated aborigine Bennelong and his wife.

In the Historical Records of N.S.W., Vol. 1, part 2, page 308, we find that Phillip, writing to Nepean, under date February 13, 1790, says:—

"In the beginning of the following April, numbers of the natives were found dead with the small-pox in different parts of the harbour; and an old man and a boy of about eight years of age were brought to the hospital. The man died, but the boy recovered, and now lives with the surgeon."

Collins tells us that this boy was taken to live "with Mr. White, the surgeon, to whom—for his attention during the cure—he seemed to be much attached."

In the Sydney Gazette, of September 8, 1821, we read:

"On the 12th of last month, died at the residence of Mr. James Squire, Kissing Point, Andrew Sneap Hammond Douglas White, a black native of this colony. He was about 37 years old, and was taken from the woods a few months after the first establishment in 1788 by Dr. White, after whom he was named.

"His mother died just before of the small-pox, which raged horribly among the poor natives at that time, and was buried by Mr. Squire. Up to the period of his kind protector's departure for Europe, he was employed as a gamekeeper, when he voluntarily entered himself on board of His Majesty's Ship Reliance, Captain Waterhouse, and was much esteemed for his strict attention to the duties of a seaman. Subsequently he went on a voyage in the Investigator with Captain Flinders, the crew of which ship were also much delighted with his orderly behaviour and uncommon alertness. Upon his return, however, he betook himself to his native wilds, which were mostly in the vicinity of Kissing Point. From the woods he only occasionally emerged for a number of years, in order to return with renewed avidity and satisfaction. Mr. Squire, we have every reason to believe, treated him with particular tenderness, and had recourse to many stratagems to rescue him from wretchedness, and with this view occasionally gave him amusing employment, accompanied with plenty of indulgence, but all proved unavailing—ancestral habits being too indelibly engendered ever to be eradicated by human effort, however strained in its benevolent design. He lies interred in the same grave with Bennelong and his wife, in Mr. Squire's garden."

Perhaps the grave of Bennelong, his wife, and the interesting native named after Surgeon White, may yet be found, and a memorial erected to their memory.

The next "First Fleeter" we come to in chronological order is John Trace, whose headstone bears this inscription:

to the Memory
who departed this Life,
1st July, 1823,
Aged 82 Years.
A faithful friend, a father Dear,
A loving husband lieth Here.
In Space of time god (sic) did him Take,
Lord rest his soul for Jesus' sake.

William Tyrrill, before whose headstone we now stand, failed to reach the allotted span:—

to the Memory of
Who Departed this Life,
June 25th, 1827,
Aged 68 Years.
who Arrived in the First Fleet in the
Year 1788.
Do not Lament, my Children, dear;
I ham (sic) not Dead, but Sleepeth Here.

An interesting feature in this epitaph is the emphatic manner in which continuity of life beyond the grave is expressed: "I ham not dead, but sleepeth here."

There is nothing on the headstone of Elisabeth Beckford to indicate that she came with the first settlers, but her name is among the list of passengers. The stone is thus inscribed:—

To the Memory
who departed this Life,
January 10th, 1827,
Aged 55 Years.
It is Finished, was her Latest Voice,
These Sacred Accents oe'r she bowed.
Her head Gave up the Ghost, and
Suffered pain no more.

The stone was the last one to be removed from the Church of England section.


Gravestone of a "First Fleeter."
Photo by Mrs. A. G. Foster.


Memorial of the First Interment in the Sandhills Cemetery.
Photo by Mrs. A. G. Foster.

A very small headstone marks the grave of Thomas Prior, who, like many more, found length of days in this new land. The stone is embellished with several Masonic emblems:—

Sacred to the Memory of
who departed this Life,
July 24th, 1836,
Aged 88 Years.
who Arrived in the first Fleet, 1788.

There are several First Fleet graves in this section, but one more must suffice:

to the Memory of
who departed this Life the
11th November, 1828,
Aged 64 Years.

She arrived in this Colony in the first
Fleet in the year 1788, and after visiting
England three times, died here much
respected by all who knew her.

Also to the memory of
who departed this Life,
the 29th April, 1849.
Aged 93 Years.

Although it is not stated so on the stone, Mrs. Mary Marshall was also a First Fleeter. Born in 1756, she lived under five Sovereigns and 10 Governors, from George II. to Queen Victoria, and from Phillip to Fitzroy. One might say with truth she lived within the memory of persons living today, and thus the foundation of the Colony is brought quite close to us.

Passing from the First Fleeters we return to the older portion, and, reaching the crest of the hill, find, in a row close together, three historic graves, Quarter-Master Hugh McDonald, James Scott, and John William Lewin.

I shall say a few words first about James Scott's tomb. It is the centre one of the three. The stone is thus inscribed:—

To the Memory of
who arrived in this Colony in the Year 1814,
as Quarter-Master-Serjeant of H.M. 46th Reg.,
and Departed this Life
9th Dec., 1832.

He was a Man of eminent Piety, ardently devoted through
a long series of years to the cause of his God, and
indefatigable in his labours for the Temporal and Spiritual
Happiness of his Fellow-men. His afflicted Widow, who
humbly anticipates a blessed re-union with the Partner of
her heart, has Erected this feeble testimony to his holy
and useful character.

For the Memory of the Just is blessed.


relict of the above,
who Departed this Life,
11th March, 1834, Aged 74 Years.
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord."
(Rev. 14 C. 13V.)

And also

Daughter of the late Mrs. Jane Scott,
who departed this Life, Dec. 2, 1842,
Aged 50 Years.

James Scott well deserved the eulogy engraved on the stone. Leaving the Army, he settled in Sydney, and received an appointment in the Commisariat Department. Originally a Presbyterian, he had attached himself to the Methodists, and was, according to the Sydney Herald, "one of their brightest ornaments." To him the Methodists were indebted for their first church, which he built on his own ground in Prince Street. He bore the entire cost of the building—some 500 guineas—himself. On Sunday, December 9, 1832, Mr. Scott had been preaching at the Carters' Barracks, and was riding home on a young and spirited horse. When near his home in Prince Street the horse shied, and Scott was thrown to the ground, causing concussion of the brain, death being almost instantaneous. It is singular that neither on the stone nor in the death announcement is the age of Scott given.

Next to Scott, on the eastern side, was the grave of the artist, John William Lewin.

Writing to Governor Hunter, under date February 6, 1798, the Duke of Portland said:—

"Mr. Lewin is a painter and drawer in natural history, and being desirous of pursuing his studies in a country which cannot fail to improve that branch of knowledge, you will allow him the usual Government rations during his residence in the Settlement."

It seems to me that justice has not yet been done to the memory of Lewin. The same spirit of adventure and love of natural history that moved Joseph Banks to accompany Captain Cook, animated Lewin. In 1801 he sailed with Lieut. Grant to Western Port. Later, he accompanied Colonel Paterson during his explorations on the Hunter, and in 1815 he formed one of the party chosen by Governor Macquarie to accompany him on his first journey across the mountains, over the famous road just completed by William Cox. Apart from Lewin's work as a naturalist, he has left us a rich legacy in his paintings of Old Sydney. Some excellent examples can be seen in the Mitchell Library.

Here Rests
The Body of J. W. Lewin, Esq.,
Who departed this Life,
the 27th of August, 1819.
Aged 49 Years.
After a short illness, which he bore
with Christian fortitude,
Leaving a disconsolate
Widow and Son
to lament his Loss
also felt by the few Friends
who knew him.
In him the Community has been
Deprived of an honest Man,
and this Country of an
Eminent Artist,
in his Line of
Natural History Painting,
in which he excelled.
He is gone,
Depending upon the Mercies
of his God,
through an Atoning Saviour,
Who Writes
Our Virtues on Adamant,
Our Vices
on a Wave.
A Friend
has given this Tribute
To his Memory.

The Sydney Gazette contains this very brief notice of Lewin's death:

"Died, yesterday morning, after a severe illness, J. W. Lewin, Coroner; universally respected."

According to Obed West, Mr. Lewin's house was a two-storied one, with a tiled roof. It stood on the eastern side of George Street, between Bathurst and Liverpool streets, north of Mr. Wilshire's property. It was converted into a public-house, called the "Spotted Dog." The land attached to it ran right through to Pitt Street.

The western of the three graves was that of Quarter-Master Hugh McDonald. The lengthy obituary notice in the Gazette, of September 11, 1819, is in marked contrast to the very brief reference made to Lewin:

"On Thursday morning last, in the 36th year of his age, after a long and painful illness, borne with Christian fortitude and patience, Mr. Hugh McDonald, Quarter-Master of the 46th Regt., leaving an amiable widow and four children to deplore his early fate. Mr. McDonald was much and justly respected by the Regiment to which be belonged. He left it a few months ago at Madras to come hither for his wife and family, whom he was obliged to leave behind him when the 46th embarked for India. In respect to the memory of this worthy man, His Excellency the Governor, the Lieut.-Governor, and nearly all the principal officers, civil and military, attended the funeral at 1 o'clock this day.

"We noticed also several ribbons on the breasts of the Gentlemen, to mark the memory of the deceased as that of a good and worthy Brother Mason. The 48th Regiment attended, and the usual military procession and honours were paid on the mournful occasion, whilst the body itself was borne to the grave by a detachment of the 46th Regt., which happens to be here at this time on its way to India. The interment took place in the new Burial Ground, being the first there, at the instance of the deceased, who had repeatedly, during his illness, expressed a desire to that effect."

The remains of Hugh McDonald and other relatives, whose names are not recorded on the stone, and around whose lives a pathetic story is woven, were removed to the family vault at St. Jude's, Randwick, but the stone I now show you will be seen by no visitor there, because it, too, was placed in the vault.

In This Grave
is deposited
The Remains of HUGH McDONALD,
Late Quarter-Master
In H.M. 46th Regiment,
Who, after a Lingering Illness,
Which he Sustained with
Patience and Resignation,
Departed This Life
on the 9th of September,
Aged 36 Years,
Leaving behind him a Widow
and Family of Young Children
to deplore his Premature
A Brother
of the Mystic Tie
Here Gives this Tribute
To His Memory.
The Short Span of Life forbids us to form
any remote Expectations.

You will notice how beautiful and varied is the lettering that adorns this stone. But the lettering is the work of some one skilled in penmanship, of someone who had been taught the art and mystery of engraving. I am glad I have preserved some specimens of his handiwork, though, alas that very skill used some years later in a wrong direction, cost him his life. There is a singular coincidence connected with our friend's lapse from virtue, which is thus recorded in a paper of the time*. For the sake of possible relatives, I give neither name nor date:—

[* The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 11 March 1830, page 2. Ed.]


"The plate by means of which the recent forgeries on the Waterloo Company were executed was found yesterday in the New Burial Ground, and delivered up to Mr. Daniel Cooper. S—— [Sly], who lately suffered for uttering the forged notes, used to be frequently employed in cutting inscriptions on the tombstones, and availed himself of the burial ground as a secure place to deposit an instrument which in any other situation was so liable to be discovered. It is well, however, that the plate has been found, for so long as its existence and place of concealment was known to anyone, neither the public, or the firm on whom the forgery had been committed, was secure from fraud. It is remarkable that B—— [Byfield], who was an active agent in circulating the forged notes, and the principal witness against the forger, was buried on the very day the plate was found."

[* See The Late Forgery. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 11 March 1830, p. 2.]

No stone, I fear, marked the resting place of our engraver, but to-day we can admire his skill, and say: Peace to his Ashes.

Yonder is a modest little headstone that many have passed unread, and even unseen, and yet it has a peculiar charm and touch of romance, which, perhaps, no other stone in the cemetery possesses.


What a contrast there is between the lettering on this stone and on McDonald's, and what a touch of pathos in the inscription, cut by the artist, Charles Rodius himself, as the last tribute his hands could pay to the memory of his young wife.

In the Sydney Art Gallery may be seen a number of portraits by Rodius, among them being Queen Gooseberry, Henry Parkes, and Edward Smith Hall, the dauntless editor of the Monitor. Charles Rodius himself died on April 7, 1860, aged 56 years. The place of his interment is not stated, but probably he was laid to rest in the same grave as his young wife.

The friend who gave the tributes to the memory of Lewin and McDonald, I opine from the moral aphorisms, was none other than James Scott, the preacher. In the Sydney Gazette of March 3, 1820, we learn that the "Funeral Expenses of the late J. W. Lewin, Esq., interred at the public expense, amounted to 86 ls. 2d." A peculiar fact might be mentioned in regard to the deaths of Lewin and McDonald. Lewin died on August 27, 1819, nearly a fortnight before McDonald, yet McDonald is stated to have been the first interment*.

[* Lewin was first buried in the Old Cemetery in George Street, then reinterred in Devonshire Street cemetery after it opened.
Australian Dictionary of Biography.]

Well over towards Elizabeth Street was the grave of Sir Francis Forbes, the first Chief Justice. Originally there was an inscription on either side of the stone, one being in Latin, the other in English; both, unfortunately, had disappeared before we came on the scene. Probably the epitaphs had been cut in marble, and the cupidity of someone has deprived posterity of an historic inscription. The services Sir Francis Forbes rendered Australia in preserving the liberties of the Press in the time of Governor Darling merit a monument to his memory. Born in 1784, the same year in which Dr. Samuel Johnson died, our First Chief Justice passed away on November 9, 1841, a date familiar to most of us for many years as the Prince of Wales' Birthday.

Near the centre of the ground we see the handsome monument erected to the memory of Sir James Dowling, the second Chief Justice. Born in London in 1787, he arrived with his family in Sydney in 1828. He died in 1844 at the early age of 57 years. When first erected, this monument so exceeded in magnificence everything that had preceded it, that for a long time it was the talk of the town.

A grandson of Sir James, Mr. J. Arthur Dowling, was the second Secretary of this Society, and did yeoman service during the years 1904 to 1908.

Over against the Barrack wall is the grave of John Stephen, the first Puisne Judge of this colony. He was born in London in 1771, and died in 1833, aged 62 years. His widow survived him for 30 years, dying in 1863, in her 89th year. One of his sons, Sir Alfred Stephen, became our third Chief Justice.

In the Sydney Gazette of May 29, 1830, appears the following:—

"The timber on the Petersham estate (the property of Dr. Wardell) has been valued at the extraordinary sum of 40,000. It comprises two or three thousand acres, and is in some places very thickly wooded. Incredible as the estimate may appear, we are inclined, from the increasing scarcity and dearness of firewood, to think it not much above the mark."

On September 7, 1834, Dr. Wardell, while riding through his fine estate, encountered three runaway convicts, one of whom shot him dead.

The story is fully told in the newspapers of the time, and is too long for repetition here. Some matters connected with his funeral and grave may, however, be new to the reader. The following extract is from an account of his funeral in the Gazette of September 13, 1834:—

"About one o'clock the procession reached the Sydney toll-gate, from the late residence of the deceased at Petersham, and immediately moved off for the burial ground in the following order:—Eight mutes, two and two; a plume of feathers and pages preceded the hearse containing the body, which was drawn by six black horses. Next followed the carriage of the deceased, closely covered with black cloth, and drawn by the four grey horses, which the deceased used to drive in his life time. A carriage covered also with black cloth succeeded, containing the chief mourners: William Charles Wentworth and John Mackaness, Esqrs. The mournful cavalcade was flanked by a train of chaises and horsemen...When arrived at the gate of the cemetery, the coffin, which was covered with black cloth, and bore upon it several gilt mountings, was removed from the hearse, and being covered with two rich velvet palls, the bearers of which were His Honour Mr. Justice Dowling, the Attorney and Solicitor Generals, the High Sheriff, the Commissioner of the Court of Requests, the First Police Magistrate, and R. Johnston and W. Lawson, Esquires, proceeded to its final resting place...

"In this manner, preceded by the Rev. Richard Hill...the body was carried to a vault near the site where lie the remains of the late Mr. Justice Stephen."


A portion of the Sandhills Cemetery, showing the Broken Column.
Photo by Mrs A G Foster.

The funeral of Dr. Wardell must have been a singularly impressive one. But where shall we find his grave. The broken fluted monument—now on the screen—is supposed to mark the spot. As in the case of Judge Forbes, the tablets containing the inscription had been removed. On the base was cut the one word, Clewett, which was the name of the monumental mason. In 1839 a marble tablet to the memory of Wardell was placed in St. James' Church, where it still remains. A reference is made to it in the Gazette of June 4, 1839:—

"On Thursday last the remains of Dr. Wardell were removed from the Sydney Burial Ground preparatory to their removal to England.

"This measure, it is said, has been determined upon by the relatives of the deceased for the purpose of having the body deposited in the family vault. A handsome marble tablet has been constructed at the marble works of Mr. Clewett, Pitt Street, to the memory of Dr. Wardell, which it is intended shall be placed in the Church of St. James. The monument has the head of the doctor in alto relievo, said to be a good likeness."

There is a problem here. The mason's name and the handsome broken column seem to point to it as Wardell's. But the grave is not near the Stephen vault, and, furthermore, we learn from the Gazette that the remains of Dr. Wardell were exhumed for removal to England. If this were done, the monument probably came into the possession of the monumental mason, and at a later period was re-erected over the grave of some other person. Or, on the other hand, a difficulty might have arisen in regard to its conveyance to England, and a new and better site chosen in the same cemetery, and the body reinterred. But which of these things happened, at present I cannot say.

The residence of Dr. Wardell, on the Petersham Estate, was at the time of his death known as "Sarah Dell" Cottage. An ancient building still standing on the Parramatta Road near the original entrance to Dr. Wardell's estate, is known as "Petersham Cottage," and tradition says it is the cottage in which the doctor resided.

And now we stand before a slab bearing the name of Anthony Fenn Kemp, the younger, who died in 1824, aged 23 years. The name of this young man's father is a familiar one in our early history, but it is not of him I wish first to speak. When the slab was raised for removal to La Perouse a singular discovery was made. The stone bore two inscriptions, one on top and one underneath. The hidden inscription was to no less an exalted person than Judge Advocate Ellis Bent.

For many years the remains of Ellis Bent and his friend Major Ovens lay in one vault on Garden Island. From thence they were removed to St. Thomas' Cemetery, North Sydney. Ellis Bent died in November, 1815, and was buried in the first place in the old cemetery, George Street. Later, a vault was prepared on Garden Island, and thither his remains were conveyed. The original stone became, I presume, the perquisite of the mason, who kept it until an opportunity came to again use it. We are grateful to him for saving for our perusal such an historic epitaph. The top part of the slab was thus inscribed:

to the memory of
Anty. Fenn Kemp,
Son of Anty. Fenn Kemp,
who departed this Life
December 22nd, 1824,
Aged 23 years & 6 weeks.
Also Judith Simpson, Aged 61 years,
Died March 31st, 1836.
James Lucas Simpson. Aged 40 Years.
Died April, 1846.

In the Australasian of January 6, 1825, is this brief announcement of young Kemp's death:—

"On the 23 ult., at his mother's residence, Cumberland Street, Rocks, Anthony Fenn Kemp."

Not far from the vault of Judge Stephen was an altar tomb bearing the name of George Crossley, a man who figured prominently in the events leading to the deposition of Governor Bligh. Crossley was transported to Botany Bay for perjury. The circumstances have often been related, and need not be repeated here. In Sydney his legal attainments were much in demand, and Governor Bligh availed himself of his services during his trouble with Macarthur. Crossley died on March 19, 1823, in the 75th year of his age. It is a singular coincidence that another remarkable perjurer lived in the house formerly occupied by Crossley. In later years it became the Metropolitan Hotel, Pitt Street, and it was here that the Tichborne claimant stayed prior to his departure for England.

Speaking of the deposition of Governor Bligh, is a reminder that his son-in-law, Captain John Putland, was buried here. This grave originally was in old St. Phillip's Church, but when that building was demolished, Putland's remains, which were enclosed in a leaden coffin, found another resting place in the "Sandhills." They are now at La Perouse. Putland died of consumption only two days before the arrest of his father-in-law. His widow became the wife of Lieut.-Colonel Maurice O'Connell, and a son of this marriage, Sir Maurice, was for many years the President of the Legislative Council of Queensland.

In writing of the early merchants, the name of Robert Campbell comes first to the mind, and here we have the handsome monument erected to one of the clan and a namesake. Robert Campbell, of the wharf, lies in St. John's cemetery, Parramatta, but the family is represented here by his nephew, Robert Campbell, of Bligh street, who died on October 5, 1851, aged 62. The fine premises erected by him show in many of the pictures of old Sydney, and are doubtless remembered by many old residents.

The Union Club occupies the site of Campbell's house, in Bligh Street, which was known as No. 8, and is stated to have been erected in 1813.

A large piece of ground, not far from Robert Campbell's, enclosed by a stout iron railing, contained two massive altar stones. One was inscribed with the names of the Hutchinson family, beginning with:

Abraham Hutchinson,
Many years Superintendent of the Government Mills,
who died in 1822, Aged 81.
Also William Hutchinson, who
passed away in 1846, in his 73rd year.

The adjoining stone bore the name of

Many years an Auctioneer in Sydney,
who departed this life,
the 23rd October, 1823.
Aged 75 years.

Mr. Bevan's cottage was in George Street, next door to the Lumber Yard, or, as we would say to-day, a little south of Bridge Street. Here, it is said, were planted some of the earliest pines brought from Norfolk Island. The picture of the Tank Stream, looking from Hunter Street, in 1843, by Skinner Prout, shows some well-grown pines in this locality, and are probably some of those referred to.

In the days of Bligh, perhaps no business firm was better known in Sydney than that of Lord, Kable, and Underwood. Lord himself was a most enterprising man. Apart from the success he achieved as an auctioneer, he should be remembered as one of our earliest manufacturers.

In Maclehose's "Picture of Sydney," in 1839, we find this reference to him:—

"We believe Mr. Lord to have been the first to attempt to manufacture the wool grown within the Colony; but although we may have some doubt as to his priority as a manufacturer there can be no question as to his success—for upon examining a sample of the production of his looms, especially his blankets, they may properly be compared to those of the great mart so celebrated in England for this article...As a clothier, Mr. Lord has for a considerable time afforded employment to about sixty persons, and his productions from the staple commodity of the Colony, although confined to coarser description, fully confirm our remarks in respect to his blanket manufactory."

The death of Simeon Lord is thus recorded in the Gazette of January 30, 1840:—

"DEATH.—Yesterday, at his late residence, Banks House, Botany, Simeon Lord, Esq., aged sixty-nine years; deeply lamented by a large circle of relations and friends."

Simeon Lord's grave was near Samuel Terry's, both being close against the brick wall separating the Church of England and Roman Catholic sections. It was a plain slab with a slate tablet inset, and surrounded by an iron railing. The slate tablet was broken; but the pieces were there, and when placed in position enabled me to copy the epitaph, which read:—

Sacred to the Memory of
Formerly of
Macquarie Place,
and late of
Banks House Botany,
who departed this life,
Jan'y 29th, 1840.
Aged 69 years.
Also of
Second son of
John Henry Black,
Cashier of the Bank of New South Wales,
who departed this Life
Sept. 23rd, 1846.
Aged 9 years 1 month and 1 day.
Also of
Second daughter of the above.
John Henry Black,
who departed this life
Oct. 11th, 1846.
Aged 13 years 9 months
and 3 days.

Simeon Lord died a wealthy man, his estate being valued at 20,000. One could wish that a finer memorial had marked his resting place. But the house he erected in Macquarie-place stood for a hundred years as a monument to his enterprise and his faith in the future of New South Wales.

Near the centre of the cemetery stood the family vault of Joseph Underwood, who arrived in Sydney in 1807. Interesting particulars of his career may be seen in Mr. R. E. Kemp's paper, read before the Society in April, 1917; and also in Mr. C. H. Bertie's chapters on George Street, which appeared in the Sydney Mail, beginning in July this year. Joseph Underwood died on August 28, 1833, aged 54. In the vault was buried his wife, Charlotte, who died in 1818; his eldest son, Thomas James, who died in 1867; also Mary Ann Underwood, the wife of James Underwood, and some of their children.

The partner of Lord and James Underwood was one Henry Kable who, with his wife, Susannah Holmes, arrived in the First Fleet. In Bonwick's life of the Rev. Richard Johnson is related an exciting episode in their career. Kable and his wife lie in the churchyard of St. Matthew's, Windsor, but we have a link with this historic couple in the person of Dr. James Mileham, whose epitaph is of sufficient interest to be printed in full:—

Sacred to the Memory of
Justice of the Peace and Senior Assistant Surgeon
of this Territory,
who died September 28th, 1824.
Aged 60 years.

He arrived in these colonies in the year 1796, and from that time, so early after the first establishment of a British colony on these shores, up to that of his lamented demise, was uninterruptedly occupied in faithfully and efficiently serving his King and the community in which he lived, evincing in the discharge, whether of his important public duties or those of private life, that good sense, urbanity and justice, which, while they attached to him every person who knew him, did honour to him as an individual, and were not less honourable to that society of which he so long continued both an efficient and respected member—this Stone is dedicated by his much-afflicted Widow.

The link I spoke of is found in the fact that Dr. Mileham married Susannah, a daughter of Henry Kable, who, in her relationship as a "much-afflicted widow," drew a pension from the Imperial Government for the remarkable period of sixty years. Her husband died in 1824, but his widow survived till 1885, reaching the ripe age of 89 years.

I have said that the graves of Simeon Lord and Samuel Terry were near each other. Both were young when they came to the colony. Both succeeded in gaining wealth, but in the gentle art of making money Terry not only outstripped Lord, but every other competitor. Through his marriage and methods he acquired a fortune, the value of which was sworn not to exceed 200,000 He died on February 22, 1838—the jubilee year of the colony—in his 62nd year. Much has been written about Sam. Terry, but it comes not within the scope of this paper. The tomb and remains were removed to Rookwood.

The Terry vault bore the following particulars regarding the names and ages of the family:—

died 22 Feby., 1838,
Aged 62 years.
Son of the above,
died 28 November, 1838,
Aged 27 years.
Relict of Samuel Terry,
Died September 5th, 1858.
Aged 89 years.
Grandson of the above, and only Son of the late
John Terry Hughes,
Died Feby. 25, 1865,
Aged 36 years.
Died October 17th, 1851.
Aged 49 Years.
Also his two daughters,
EMMA SHELDON, died August 5th, 1841, aged 2 Years.
MARTHA THERESA, died Sept. 9, 1841, aged 9 Years.
widow of the late John Terry Hughes,
Died 29th August, 1873, Aged 70 Years.

Let us turn from these memorials of wealth to contemplate the grave of George Howe, the printer of Australia's first newspaper. No lofty column recording this fact marks the spot, and one could have searched as vainly in the old cemetery as in the new to find a stone bearing his name. I think it is a matter of regret that the journalists of New South Wales permit the remains of the Father of the Australian Press to lie in a grave unmarked by his name, and virtually unknown. I hope that a movement will soon be inaugurated to remove this reproach, and that a column suitably inscribed will be erected to his memory.

The grave of George Howe in the Sandhills was of the altar type, but the top slab containing the inscription disappeared many years ago. The only epitaph was on the western end. It recorded that:—

died on the 14th of May, 1811,
Aged 32 years.

Mr. Edward Wills and Thomas Reibey were partners in various commercial enterprises in Sydney. Both, unhappily, died in early manhood in the same year. The widow of Thomas Reibey never remarried, but Mrs. Wills, some eighteen months after the death of her husband, once again entered into the bonds of matrimony, and on October 5, 1812, became the wife of George Howe. This explains why the name of Edward Wills appears on the stone.

Probably when the new vault was made in this cemetery to receive the body of her second husband, the widow had the remains of her first husband removed from the George Street cemetery and reinterred here. George Howe arrived in Sydney by the Royal Admiral, in November, 1800, and on March 5, 1803, he printed the first Australian newspaper. With second-hand, nearly worn-out type, and a scant supply of indifferent paper, with a number of subscribers as ready to read his paper, as they were reluctant to pay their subscriptions, the position of George Howe was not an enviable one. Let me quote his own words:—

The Sydney Gazette commenced printing on the 5th of March, 1803; its commencement was under the present Printer, who had enough to do to support it, for it supported not him, and the first ten years of the Paper was, indeed, a time of vicissitude. He bought the Paper at a very dear price; he distributed his type; he invented and obtained new matter without any auxiliary assistance; he worked the Paper off at press; and he afterwards delivered it to the Sydney subscribers. A paper in England under 700 in number is sensibly a losing concern, and what must be a paper here within half the number and half of that unpaid for?"

But I must hark back to the Sandhills. In this vault was buried George Howe himself, who died 11 May 1821, aged 52. In the old Gazette Office, George Street, near Charlotte-place, was erected a small marble tablet to his memory, which was thus inscribed:—

In memory
A Creole of St. Kitts,
Born 1769, Died May 11, 1821.
Aged LII*.
He introduced into Australia
The Art of Printing;
Instituted the Sydney Gazette,
and was the
First Government Printer;
Besides which
His Charity Knew no Bounds.

[* i.e. 52 years.]

Unfortunately, no trace of this tablet can be found. In the same vault with George Howe was buried his two wives and his son Robert, who conducted the Gazette after his father's death. Later, however, the remains of Robert Howe were removed to a new vault some little distance away. Upon the leaden coffin was a small copper plate bearing this inscription:—

Government Printer.
Born in London, 30th June, 1795.
Accidentally Drowned off
Fort Macquarie,
January 29th, 1829.
Aged 34 years.

In a Government Order, dated April 25, 1809, it is stated that:—

"Complaints having been made to the Lieutenant-Governor, that numerous frauds have been committed by individuals repairing on board ships, on their arrival at this port, and personating others, by which they have obtained possession of letters and parcels, to the great injury of those for whom they were intended, the Lieutenant-Governor, in order to prevent the practice of such frauds in future, has been pleased to establish an office at which all parcels and letters addressed to the inhabitants of this Colony shall be deposited, previous to their distribution, which office shall be under the direction of Mr. Isaac Nichols (assistant to the Naval Officer) who has entered into security for the faithful discharge of the trust reposed in him."

Isaac Nichols arrived in Sydney in the year 1791, and prospered in the land of his adoption. In 1805, he married Miss Rosetta Julien. Three sons were born of this union, the second and most distinguished being George Robert Nichols, who was born in September, 1809—the year his father received his appointment as postmaster—and died in September, 1857.

It was an unfortunate thing for the boys that they were deprived of the guidance of a shrewd and excellent father, when the eldest was only about thirteen years of age.

Isaac Nichols' plans for the future of his boys are revealed in this extract from his will: "It being my will that each of my sons shall receive as good an education as possible, I desire my executors to send them to England by the earliest be well and classically instructed, as will qualify them for such liberal profession best suited for their genius. I wish that my two elder sons may be brought up to the profession of physic, being placed with eminent practitioners, where their morals, as well as their studies, may be strictly attended to."

His youngest son he wished articled to a solicitor of respectability, who would attend to his morals, as well as his professional instruction. Space will not permit me to follow the careers of those three boys, but after life's fitful fever, they each and all were laid in the family vault in the Sandhills Cemetery. On the stone is the name of Isaac Nichols, who died on November 8, 1819. Also of his widow, who had remarried, his daughter-in-law, and a grandchild. The names of his three sons were not on the stone when the photograph shown was taken, but have been cut on the side of the stone since its removal to Rookwood.

When Isaac Nichols received the appointment of Postmaster he was living in his new house in High Street, known to-day as George Street North. On the keystone above the door was cut his initials and the date of erection. Some difference of opinion has existed as to the date cut on the keystone. The picture reveals it to have been:

I * N
MAY 30,


Keystone of the house of Isaac Nichols,
George Street North, Sydney, the first post-office in Australia.
Photo by Mrs. A. G. Foster.


Tombstone of Isaac Nichols, who died Nov. 8, 1819.
Photo by Mrs. A. G. Foster.

The fact that Nichols was an assistant to the Naval Officer, and had built a fine commodious house near the water, and in the centre of commercial Sydney, were no doubt important factors in gaining him the distinction of being Australia's first Postmaster.

As in the case of George Howe, no portrait of Nichols is known to exist. I should conceive him to have been tall. His three sons, it is said, were tall, handsome men. Many still remember his second son, George Robert Nichols, a noted lawyer and politician, who became a member of the first responsible Government.

A nephew and namesake, the late Mr. George Robert Nichols, of Llandilo, near St. Marys, was a member of this Society, and his death in October last is a distinct loss to the cause of Australian history.

Between the grave of Isaac Nichols and the caretaker's cottage stood a fine Norfolk Island pine. A few paces west of this tree brought us to the altar tomb of Mary Reibey. Much has been written concerning her remarkable business aptitude and successful career. As most of it is familiar to all students of our history I need say but little about it here. I have had the pleasure of meeting some of Mrs. Reibey's descendants, who bear testimony to the keenness of her mind and the goodness of her heart.

Evidently, Mrs. Reibey admired the building erected by Mr. Nichols, because in 1812, in the first year of her widowhood, she erected a similar building immediately adjoining Nichols on the southern side. This land was granted to her by Governor Macquarie, who stipulated that the land must not be sold for five years, and that a good and sufficient dwelling-house of brick or stone should be built within the said period. The building was to be 50 feet in length, 16 feet in width and 2 stories high. Not only did Mrs. Reibey admire Mr. Nichols' house as a whole, but she liked the idea of the initials and date on the keystone; and so, on the stone above the door, she had engraved her initials and date of erection:—

M. R.

Subsequently Mrs. Reibey erected several other buildings in Sydney, and her enterprise deserved the high praise given to her in the Sydney Gazette of December 19, 1827, which said:—

"In addition to improvements to George Sstreet within the last year by Mr. Barnett Levy, Mr. Morris, Mr. Simmonds and others, we cannot help noticing the spacious and elegant mansion very recently run up by Mrs. Reibey adjoining the Custom House. What between the erection of splendid edifices and the ramification of children and grandchildren, no respectable colonist has done more than Mrs. Reibey to 'Advance Australia.'"

The building referred to by the Gazette was erected on the western side of the Tank Stream, just south of the present Post Office. It was known for many years as Reibey Cottage.

I cannot here give particulars of the other "splendid edifices" Mrs. Reibey caused to be built, but there is one other to which I must refer. In Station Street, Newtown, may still be seen a picturesque two-storied building, standing back some distance from the road, half hidden from view by stately trees and clustering vines. Its name is now "Reibey House." This was Mrs. Reibey's last residence, and it was here, on the 30th May, 1855, that her singularly romantic life came to a close.

The inscription on the family vault in the Sandhills read thus:—

to the Memory of
who departed this life on the 5th of May, 1811,
Aged 36 Years.
Mrs. Celia Wills, Wife of Mr. Thomas Wills,
Eldest Daughter of the above Mr. Thomas Reibey,
who departed this Life on the 28th Septr., 1823,
Aged 20 Years 9 months.
Also Alice Wills,
Infant Daughter of the above,
who departed this Life April 11, 1824,
Aged 11 Months and 5 Days.
Also of
Mary, Widow of the Above,
Mr. Thomas Reibey,
Born 12th May, 1777,
Died 30th May, 1855.

"I heard a voice from heaven, saying unto me:
Write—From henceforth, blessed are the dead which die in the Lord,
even so saith the Spirit, for they rest from their labours."

If I may be pardoned for introducing a little personal history, I should like to say that in Mrs. Reibey's vault lies the genesis of this lecture. It was while standing beside her grave that my wife and I determined, with pen and camera, to preserve for posterity—some at least—of the historic graves of the pioneers. This work was begun early in 1899, and occupied a full two years' of leisure time.

Several stones were removals from the old George Street Cemetery, one of the most interesting being that of the Bunker vault, which is thus inscribed:—

To the Memory of
Wife of Capt. Bunker,
who Departed this Life,
April 3rd, 1808. Aged, 40 Years.
Her daughter Isabella Laycock,
wife of Capt. Thomas Laycock,
Late of His Majesty's 97th Regt.,
who Departed this Life,
May 13th, 1817, Aged 30 Years.
Weep not Our Husbands and Children Dear,
We are not Dead but Sleeping Here.

This stone covers Two of the Best Wives
and Tenderest of Mothers. Amiable in their Lives;
And in Death are not Divided.
To the Memory of
Eldest Son of the late Capt. Fisk,
Grandson and Nephew of the above,
Who Departed This Life
November 28th, 1833,
Aged 21 Years.

The name of Capt. Bunker can be traced almost to the foundation of the colony. For some time his home was on the "Rocks," and the name Bunker's Hill is derived from that fact. He had a large grant of land near Liverpool, which he named Collingwood, after Lord Collingwood, to whom his first wife was related.

His third wife—for he was thrice married—was the widow of Capt. William Minchin, police magistrate, formerly a captain in the 102nd Regt. Captain Bunker passed his declining years at Liverpool, and there can be found his grave.

A familiar name appears on a well-preserved altar stone. From it we learn that Joseph Nobbs died on December 12, 1844, aged 90 years, after a residence of 43 years in the colony. A relative of that early pioneer is the Hon. John Nobbs, M.L.C., who for many years represented Granville in the Legislative Assembly, and was one of the founders of this Society.

Opposite the entrance gates, a little removed from the footpath, was the grave of Allan Cunningham, botanist and explorer. A plain slab covered the remains, and simply recorded his name, age, and date of death:—

To the Memory of
Departed this Life
On the 27th June, 1839,
Aged 48 Years.

The friends and admirers of Allan Cunningham erected in 1844, in the Botanic Gardens, an obelisk to his memory. When the cemetery was resumed Mr. J. H. Maiden, the Curator of the Gardens, had the remains of Cunningham placed in a casket and inserted in a cavity cut in the obelisk. The details are given in the Sydney Morning Herald of June 29, 1901:—

"The recent opening of his brick grave brought to light a piece of his skull, about four inches in diameter, a piece of the large bone of the arm, and some other fragments. These were placed in a leaden casket 10 inches long, 5 inches broad, and 4 inches deep, which was inserted in an excavation made in the upper portion of the obelisk and the whole covered with a marble slab, which bears the following inscription:—

"The remains of Allan Cunningham were interred in the Devonshire Street Cemetery, in July, 1839, from which they were reverently removed on the 25th of May, 1901, and placed within this obelisk. The placing in the obelisk took place on the 26th June inst."

Could Cunningham wish to sleep his last sleep in a more beautiful spot, surrounded by the trees and flowers, to whose study he had devoted so many years of his life? Standing in front of this obelisk you might observe a fine willow tree growing on the edge of the tiny lake, which encircles the monument. If you turn to the Sydney Gazette of May 20, 1830, you may read this:—

"Mr. Fraser, the Colonial Botanist, has a cutting from the willow which hangs over the tomb of Napoleon at St. Helena, and is about to plant it on one of those miniature islands constructed by him in the pond in the new botanical garden, which he is laying out at Farm Cove."

And so at Farm Cove, as well as at La Perouse, we have a link of sentiment binding us to the great French nation.

We have yet another in the grave of William Balcombe. A little to the west of Cunningham's, in the Sandhills, was another plain slab, containing this brief epitaph:—

Here Lie the Remains of
Late Colonial Treasurer of New South Wales.
He Departed this Life on the 19th
Day of March, 1829,
In the 49th Year of his Age.

Mr. Balcombe arrived in Sydney in the time of Governor Brisbane, and occupied the fine old house at the corner of Bent and O'Connell streets, on the site of which the Colonial Sugar Company has its offices. Prior to coming to Sydney Mr. Balcombe held a Government position on St. Helena, and was thus frequently brought into contact with the great Napoleon, who, it is said, became attached to a lovely little child, the daughter of Mr. Balcombe.

And now let us glance at some tragedies of Old Sydney. Here is a small headstone recording a death by snakebite:—

To the Memory of
Who lost his life by the bite of a snake,
on the 5th December, 1824,
Aged 45 Years.
He was a Brother Fellow Odd,
We hope his Soul, at rest with God.

Interesting accounts are given in the papers of the day. Sydney had then the two newspapers, the Sydney Gazette and the Australian. The former paper, in its issue of December 9, 1824, says:—

"On Monday last an inquest was held on the body of William Yardley, who died from the bite of a snake. It appeared that the deceased was a stonemason in the employ of Mr. Robert Cooper, merchant, of George Street, and worked on the distillery grounds at Blackwattle Swamp, on the Parramatta-road. While in the act of gathering some flowers or shrubs, as the story goes on, Friday morning last, he felt something prick his leg, and between 5 and 10 minutes afterwards fell to the ground with an insupportable pain that struck across the forehead. From the symptoms it was inferred that he had been bitten by a snake.

"He did not see the reptile, but in a few moments fainted, in which state he was found, and quickly carried home to Upper Castlereagh Street. The usual remedies were instantly applied, and an incision of the affected part made, previous to which Dr. Bland had induced some natives, who were on the spot, to suck the wound, agreeable to their usual custom on these occasions. This being followed by considerable relief, but not having perfectly removed the symptoms, the bitten part without any loss of time, was cut out, and a cupping glass immediately applied over the bleeding wound, which operation was followed by additional very serviceable relief. The volatile alkali and other stimulants were now exhibited, the lunar caustic applied to the spot of the incision, and the case otherwise treated agreeable to the general practice. The unfortunate man was kept walking from the time the surgeon attended him until the morning of his death, as hopes were entertained of life if he could have continued on his feet for 48 hours after the bite; but nature, being exhausted, and the poison having had time to diffuse its deadly power before counteraction could take place, the poor man went off into a slumber, and soon fell into the sleep of death. The body shortly presented a most shocking spectacle, and the blood flowed profusely from the ears. Verdict: Died by the bite of a snake."


Tomb of George Howe, the first Government Printer, who was buried in
the same grave as Edward Wills.
Photo by Mrs. A. G. Foster.

To show that even in those days newspapers differed from one another, I subjoin the extract from the Australian, then in its first year of publication, under date December 16, 1824:—

"On Friday morning (3rd inst.) a man named William Yardley, in the employ of Mr. Robert Cooper, was stung on the leg by a snake. He did not see the reptile, but felt an acute pain, occasioned, as he at the moment imagined, by a prick from a grass tree, of which he took no notice till, growing faint, he, with difficulty, reached his home. It appears that the accident occurred while employed in his labour as a stonemason at Mr. Robert Cooper's new building, on the South Head-road. It was only when the poison began to operate and the unfortunate man had fallen down several times that his companions began to suspect what had really befallen him. Mr. Bland was sent for, but being professionally engaged at the time, nearly an hour elapsed before he was able to attend to the unfortunate man. The wounded part was immediately cut out, but not until the venom had contaminated the whole mass of blood. All means were resorted to to counteract the bite of this poisonous reptile. Strong stimulants were applied externally and internally, and the patient was kept walking day and night, but all proved ineffectual. The poison had penetrated into the springs of life, before the unfortunate man discovered the nature of his ailment. A coroner's inquest was held on Monday on the body. Verdict: Died in consequence of the bite of a snake."

It seems most probable that Mr. Robert Cooper was having constructed his private house, "Juniper Hall," South Head-road, and the distillery in Parramatta Street at the same time.

The headstone of Samuel Lepton, who was shot dead by a constable named Byron, used to attract a good deal of attention. Some misapprehension exists in regard to the actual circumstances, and more odium has been attached to Byron than I think he deserves. Briefly, the facts are these:—In the early days—owing to the large numbers of convicts in Sydney—watch-houses (or roundhouses, as they were frequently called) were placed at various points, and the constable in charge had the right to challenge persons passing as to their identity and business. Prisoners of the Crown had to show their tickets of leave or emancipation papers. Failing to give satisfactory replies, a person might be arrested and lodged in the Round House, a cell for that purpose, being provided underground. On May 29, 1825, about dusk, Lepton, with a companion named Richard Robinson, were walking along the Parramatta-road to Sydney, when they were challenged by Byron. The story of what then happened may be told in the words of Lepton's companion:—

"Richard Robinson deposed that he was in company with deceased on the Parramatta-road on the evening of the 29th of May last; was proceeding from Parramatta to Sydney, when, on passing a round-house, within three miles from Sydney, prisoner came out with a pistol in his hand and approached towards them. On looking witness in the face he observed, 'You are not the man.' He then looked at deceased (Lepton), and enquired who he was. He said: 'I will tell you who I am. You remember, I suppose, to have worked with me in loading stone for Jenny Muckle.' Prisoner then remembered him, and suffered both to proceed on their way, and returned back to his house; deceased then said that it was a hard case to be stopped by constable, and that the prisoner, Byron, knew him to be a free man. The constable returned and asked what he was grumbling about, and insisted on seeing his certificate of freedom, which deceased said had been left by him in Sydney. Prisoner said: 'If you cannot produce it, I will take you into custody to the round-house.' Not more than three minutes had elapsed from the prisoner leaving them the first time and his return; deceased and witness had some words together respecting his going in custody to the watch-house, but was at length prevailed upon to go."

What happened in the round-house was told by the prisoner Byron, who said he requested Lepton to go down into a place underground assigned to individuals who may be taken into charge. Lepton refused, and snatched up a gun which was in the room. Byron told him the piece was unloaded, and thus Lepton, observing the door half open, rushed out. Byron followed and fired his pistol, apparently without effect. He then returned to the round-house, procured a musket which he fired, and Lepton fell—never to rise again.

To the Memory of
Who Departed this Life June
20th, 1825, Aged 27 Years.
The wicked Byron who shot me,
The ALMIGHTY JUDGE will shortly see.
And I, the witness, shall be there,
The truth against him to declare.
That righteous Judge shall hear my case,
And doom him to his own place.
That wise Creator, who is good,
Commands us all to shed no blood.
And those who do He'll not forgive,
His laws decree such shall not live.
Byron, prepare to meet thy doom;
The awful summons soon must come,
When you must answer for my blood,
Before thy MAKER and thy GOD.

From the evidence it is clear that Lepton's "back answer" was in no slight measure responsible for the tragedy. Byron had returned to the round-house, leaving Lepton and his companion free to continue their walk into Sydney. But Lepton let his annoyance overcome his prudence, and began to say things. That brought the constable back, and resulted in the arrest and tragic death. There are several matters of interest connected with the case not generally known. Lepton's name is variously stated in the newspapers to have been Upton, Lupton, and Lapton. A Mr. Anthony Best had the stone erected, and the lines written.

A singular error in the date is carved on the stone, June 20, but as a matter of fact the tragedy took place on the 29th of May. From this we might infer that the stone was not erected until some considerable time after the occurrence. As may be seen in the photograph, the surface of the stone was flaking off 18 years ago, and the time cannot be far distant when this quaint relic of an old-time tragedy will have quite disappeared.

Nearly opposite the entrance gates was a well-preserved headstone of an attractive design, which bore an inscription that for quaintness of diction appealed to me more than Lepton's.

This stone, after seventy years of exposure to the elements, showed no signs of decay, and may last for many years yet to come.

Sacred to the Memory
Who was Accidentally Shot on
Aged 30 Years.

Reader as this Stone you View,
Let a Tear, in pity fall.
Ah, think how Sudden was his Fate,
Shot by a Musket Ball.
Into his Maker's Presence borne away,
without a Moment to Repent or Pray.
Though Pious he was and Learned in fact,
just think what a man Should be,
and he was that.

The Sydney Gazette, December 28, 1830, contains an account of the accident which—omitting a couple of lines—reads thus:—

"Shocking Catastrophe.—A most distressing occurrence, displaying the sad effects resulting from the horrid practice of drinking parties, so prevalent among the lower orders in this Colony, took place about two o'clock on the morning of Christmas day. Several persons had assembled on the previous evening to have a carousal, by way of introducing the season, in a small house, situated where the old toll-bar used to be at the commencement of the South Head-road. After drinking to excess for several hours, some of them began what is commonly called 'larking,' and imprudently laid hold of a loaded musket that stood in the room. While they were struggling for this weapon it was struck against the ground, by which the stock was broken, and it went off, the contents lodging in the abdomen of a poor fellow belonging to the Prisoners' Barracks...and after lingering for a few hours, he expired at the General Hospital in great agony. He declared before his death that the transaction was purely accidental."

I do not know who composed the lines that embellish this headstone, nor what virtues or vices he considered necessary to make a man as he "should be," but after reading the circumstances under which the late Mr. John Ward crossed into the Land of Shadows, one may not, perhaps, question the extent of his learning, but may very reasonably doubt the depth of his piety.

When it was determined to resume the cemetery as the site of a new railway station, large numbers of persons, out of curiosity, or because their ancestors were buried there, visited the cemetery. We often smiled to hear the remarks about the wonderful state of preservation of many inscriptions, and, perchance, some of my audience might ask whether it was due to the remarkable quality of the paint used in those days or to the constant care and tender solicitude evinced by some of the descendants of the pioneers. To both credit shall be freely given. But there was a third reason.

The picture of Denis Ryan's headstone shows the lecturer* renovating an inscription. Without this labour, many an epitaph would have been indistinct or quite indecipherable.

[* Mr A G Foster is here referring to himself as the "lecturer". He was giving the address about Devonshire cemetery which forms the text of this document.]

Illustration Illustration

Mr Foster renovating an inscription (left) and the renovated inscription (right)

Governor Bourke erected a monument over the remains of seventeen persons, comprising officers, crew, and passengers of the barque, Charles Eaton, who, after escaping from the total wreck of that vessel, on August 15, 1834, were massacred by the natives of the islands on which they landed. The remains were recovered by H.M. Colonial Schooner Isabella, and interred in this vault, November 17, 1836.

There were many tragedies of Old Sydney that were not caused by snakebite, shot, or shipwreck—tragedies that could be traced to envy, malice, and persecution were none the less fatal, when a sensitive mind was the target and venom the shaft. A pathetic example is indicated in the case of the solicitor, Thomas Amos:—

to the Memory of
Solicitor of this Colony,
Who deceased the 9th day of Novr., 1819,
in the 42nd year of his Age,
The Victim
of deeply wounded feelings.
Heu! falis oppressus
Duguis Damnatus iniguis in sub Judice Summo!

Age and weather had caused part of the stone to flake off, rendering some of the Latin inscription indecipherable.

Let us turn to the account of his death, as given in the Sydney Gazette of November 13, 1819:—

"On Tuesday, at his residence, in Pitt Street, after a short illness, Thomas S. Amos, Esq., late Solicitor in the Courts of Civil Judicature; a gentleman whose suavity of manners in private life was calculated daily to increase the numbers of his friends. He had been in the Colony between three and four years, and independent of his legal practice, had embarked to some extent on agricultural pursuits. Two youthful sons, who accompanied him into this colony—and both are now at a grammar school, are left in a country where they have no remaining relative sadly to deplore the departure of a parent in whose affection their early youth passed happily away. The funeral took place early on Thursday afternoon at the new burial ground, and was most respectably attended. The two orphans followed the bier as chief mourners, and in succession proceeded all the magistrates of Sydney, and most if not the whole of the civil officers in the town, and the sentiment of regret was general."

Not a word in the above paragraph reveals by whom or in what manner the feelings of Amos were so deeply wounded as to cause or contribute to his death. But we must remember that the Gazette was not a free unfettered paper, having the will and the power to expose wrong-doing in high places, and so we wait awhile until the Monitor is founded, having for its editor the fearless outspoken champion of the liberty of the Press—Edward Smith Hall, whose memory deserves a monument. Now, take up the Monitor, of 1829, and in its issue of September 26 you will find this:—

"The pension of 400 a year given to Mr. Barron Field, whose conduct when Judge here excited general dissatisfaction, especially in levying fees on suitors, which he had no more right to levy, than the highwayman has to levy money on the highway; and whose conduct to the late Mr. Solicitor Amos will never be erased from the tablet of men's memories, ought to be petitioned against. If ever a House of Assembly be granted the Colony, and we obtain the privilege of disbursing our own money, this pension will be struck out of the list the very first Colonial Budget that is opened in our Australian Commons."

Not far away from the grave of Amos we meet with another of these singular epitaphs, which begins in this wise:—

formerly pupil of the justly
Celebrated JAMES WYATT, Esqre., deceased.
Died April 8th, 1822,
Aged 29 Years.

Subjected almost from the hour of his landing in these Colonies to that of his death, to a series of the most relentless and unmerciful oppressions, a severe and sudden illness contracted in the too-ardent pursuit of his profession, snatched him prematurely to the grave. At a time, too, when to render his fate the more to be lamented, a change, the most propitious for the Colony, was but just developing his superior talents, and that promised to him many years of much happiness, and ultimately of fame and honour in his scientific Labours. By these Colonies he is regretted as a professional loss not easily to be retrieved by his friends, as a friend, for whom his misfortunes, gentle manners, and cultivated genius had contributed to excite the highest respect and regard.

Speo vix pr dara refulsit. (sic)

Both these men evidently suffered persecution, whatever shape it might have taken—during the regime of Macquarie. If we accept the epitaphs as fairly truthful descriptions of their character, we should say they were just the types of men the colony stood in need of, and should have received every consideration. The lack of good-will shown towards them seems to support the charge made against Macquarie that he showed an undue preference to the emancipist class, for whom he wished to keep the colony as a kind of preserve.

We are now nearing the end of our ramble, and many an historic grave must remain unvisited, but remembering we are in a building devoted to the purposes of education, I cannot bring my paper to a close without showing the graves of two pioneer schoolmasters, William Cape and Thomas Taber. They were situated at extreme parts of the cemetery, Cape's on the east, near Elizabeth Street, and Taber's on the west, against the Barrack wall. Seeing that Mr. S. H. Smith is to read a paper on "William Timothy Cape, a Great Educational Pioneer," I need do nothing more than give the epitaph of William Cape and certain members of his family:—

To the Memory of
Of O'Connell Street, Sydney,
An old and much-respected Colonist,
Died November 19th, 1847,
Aged 74 Years.

Also of
Third Son of the Above,
Aged 36 Years.
Formerly Master of the ship Cape Packet
and the steamer Sovereign.
He sailed from Auckland, August, 1847,
in the Elizabeth Davis, and,
it is supposed, perished at Sea.
Also of
Third daughter of the above,
Who died after an illness of a few hours,
February 3rd, 1842,
Aged 28 Years.

Adjoining this headstone was another, thus inscribed:—

To the Memory of
Arthur Charles,
Third Son of
William Timothy and Jane Cape.
Died December 8th, 1842.
Aged 6 Weeks.
Also of
Julius Sidney,
A Twin Son of the Above,
Died January,
Aged 2 years and a half.
In Memory also of
Maria Jaques,
Third Daughter of
William Jaques, Esq.,
Of H.M. Survey Department,
and Sister of the Above
Jane Cape.
Died November 28th, 1839,
Aged 22 Years.

A remarkable feature about the Cape epitaph is the fact that, excepting William Cape, every death was the third son or daughter in the several families.

In the Sydney Herald, of May 5, 1842, is thus recorded the passing of one of Sydney's earliest schoolmasters:—

"Death—At his residence, Castlereagh Street South, on Sunday morning, the 1st instant, at the advanced age of seventy-nine years, Mr. Thomas Taber, deeply regretted by his bereaved widow and a numerous family and descendants to the fourth generation. Mr. Taber arrived in the year 1797, and was soon afterwards appointed one of the masters of the Government School. He was subsequently removed to Parramatta as clerk and schoolmaster, and on the death of Mr. Barnes, who filled that situation in Sydney, Mr. Taber was appointed his successor. He continued to discharge these duties with credit to himself and satisfaction to his superiors until the year 1828, when, after a service of 26 years, he was by the kindness of the Government, permitted to retire on a pension of 70 per annum."

Mr. Lindsay, a bookseller, was in business on the site, and probably in the same building that Taber had for his school. Angus and Robertson, the well-known booksellers, now occupy the site.

I am glad we preserved the quaint and poetic inscription that was cut on the headstone of this pioneer schoolmaster, because I fear that now nearly the whole of the epitaph has disappeared:—

Beneath the friendly Shadow
of this Stone,
Sheltered from all the Stormy ills of Life,
Repose in Peace,
The Mortal Remains
After a Residence in this Colony
of 45 Years,
During 26 of which he held the Situation
Parish Clerk and Schoolmaster,
Departed this Life
On the 1st Day of May,
Aged 79 Years.

The name Devonshire Street Cemetery could fairly be applied to those sections which faced or extended to that street, but is somewhat of a misnomer when describing the original Burial Ground, which faced Belmore Park. For lack of a better name, I and others refer to it as the "Sandhills Cemetery." It was a sandhill when Macquarie chose it, and when the memorials and remains of the pioneers were removed it became a sandhill once again.

I have but two more views to show you. The first is a portion of the cemetery near the centre, looking south. The tree in the foreground was a fine specimen of a small native tree, "Monotoca elliptica." I should think it to be as old as the cemetery itself, but the banksias, geebungs, and five corners that once were its companions have vanished, leaving no trace behind. The wall seen at the back divides us from the Presbyterian portion. The tall headstone just to the right of the obelisk is in the Presbyterian ground.

The other picture is taken from the same position, but the scene is changed, indeed. The tree still stands, but the last stone has been removed. The cemetery is a memory only. The lady* seated on the crooked bole of the "monotoca" wears a smile of satisfaction. Her labour of love is finished. The grave of many a pioneer has been preserved for posterity by her camera, and future generations will be able, as we have done to-night, to take a ramble through this historic cemetery.

[* The lady is Mrs Josephine Foster, Mr A G Foster's wife]


Mrs Foster sitting in Devconshire Street Cemetery

List of Names of People Mentioned in this Address, who Appear on the
"List of Burials for Devonshire Street Cemetery, Sydney, New South Wales"

PN13321 AMOS       Thomas Sterrop 09 Nov 1819
PN13403 BAKER      Mary Jane      02 Dec 1842
PN13469 BALCOMBE   William        19 Mar 1829
PN13538 BECKFORD   Elisabeth      10 Jan 1827
PN02782 BENT       Ellis          10 Nov 1815
PN13412 BEVAN      David          23 Oct 1823
PN13640 BLACK      Edward Simeon  23 Sep 1846
PN13641 BLACK      Louisa Maria   11 Oct 1846
PN13385 BUNKER     Margaret       03 Apr 1808
PN19284 BYFIELD    Mark           08 Mar 1830
PN03288 CAMPBELL   Robert         05 Oct 1851
PN13788 CAPE       Arthur Charles 08 Dec 1842
PN13787 CAPE       Emily          03 Feb 1842
PN13786 CAPE       Henry             Aug 1847
PN13789 CAPE       Julius Sidney  02 Jan 1849
PN13785 CAPE       William        19 Nov 1847
PN13722 CROSSLEY   George         19 Mar 1823
PN13742 CUNNINGHAM Allan          27 Jun 1839
PN04115 DOWLING    Sir James      27 Sep 1844
PN04428 FISK       Arnold James W 28 Nov 1833
PN04504 FORBES     Sir Francis    09 Nov 1841
PN09994 GOOSEBERRY Cora           30 Jul 1852
PN14206 HOWE       George         11 May 1821
PN14144 HOWE       Robert         29 Jan 1829
PN05390 HUGHES     Emma Sheldon   05 Aug 1841
PN01158 HUGHES     Esther         29 Aug 1873
PN05402 HUGHES     John Terry     17 Oct 1851
PN05406 HUGHES     Martha Theresa 09 Sep 1841
PN14354 HUGHES     Samuel Terry   25 Feb 1865
PN14167 HUTCHINSON Abraham        06 May 1822
PN14168 HUTCHINSON William        26 Jul 1846
PN14420 JAQUES     Maria          28 Nov 1839
PN14453 KEMP       Anthony Fenn   22 Dec 1824
PN14452 KITCHEN    Henry          08 Apr 1822
PN14483 LAYCOCK    Isabella       13 May 1817
PN14520 LEPTON     Samuel         29 May 1825
PN14510 LEWIN      John William   27 Aug 1819
PN06093 LORD       Simeon         29 Jan 1840
PN14726 MARSHALL   Mary           29 Apr 1849
PN14617 MCDONALD   Hugh           09 Sep 1819
PN14629 MILEHAM    James          28 Sep 1824
PN14725 MINTZ      Frances        11 Nov 1828
PN07039 NICHOLS    George Robert  12 Sep 1857
PN14811 NICHOLS    Isaac          08 Nov 1819
PN14834 NOBBS      Joseph         12 Dec 1844
PN14929 PRIOR      Thomas         24 Jul 1836
PN14911 PUTLAND    John           04 Jan 1808
PN15029 REIBEY     Mary           30 May 1855
PN15028 REIBEY     Thomas         05 May 1811
PN07751 RODIUS     Charles        07 Apr 1860
PN07752 RODIUS     Harriet        14 Dec 1838
PN14980 RYAN       Dennis         01 May 1820
PN15104 SCOTT      James          09 Dec 1832
PN15105 SCOTT      Jane           11 Mar 1834
PN15134 SIMPSON    James Lucas    18 Apr 1846
PN15133 SIMPSON    Judith         31 Mar 1836
PN19285 SLY        John William   28 Dec 1829
PN15135 SQUIRE     James          16 May 1822
PN15157 STEPHEN    John           21 Dec 1833
PN15158 STEPHEN    Mary Ann       01 Jan 1863
PN15301 TABER      Thomas         01 May 1842
PN15377 TERRY      Edward         28 Nov 1838
PN15378 TERRY      Rosetta        05 Sep 1858
PN15376 TERRY      Samuel         22 Feb 1838
PN15303 TRACE      John           01 Jul 1823
PN15338 TYRRILL    William        25 Jun 1827
PN15389 UNDERWOOD  Charlotte      03 Feb 1818
PN15390 UNDERWOOD  Joseph         28 Aug 1833
PN08587 UNDERWOOD  Mary Ann       09 Feb 1825
PN00208 UNDERWOOD  Thomas James   31 Oct 1867
PN15535 WARD       John           25 Dec 1830
PN19220 WARDELL    Robert         08 Sep 1834
PN08846 WHITE      Andrew Sneap H 12 Aug 1821
PN15487 WILLS      Alice          11 Apr 1824
PN15486 WILLS      Celia          28 Sep 1823
PN15475 WILLS      Edward Spencer 14 May 1811
PN15643 YARDLEY    William        05 Dec 1824


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