I have a confession to make – I love wandering around in overgrown cemeteries.
You can rest in peace folks (both above and below), I have not gone all Buffy the Vampire Slayer or teamed up with the Scooby-Doo Gang. I love wandering in overgrown cemeteries in the day time.
A brilliant summer’s day at Rookwood Cemetery, rambling through the marble, sandstone and wildflowers.
One of my favourite places to visit is Rookwood Necropolis (city of the dead) in Sydney, Australia. It’s the largest multicultural necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s estimated about one million people have been buried in the ‘suburb’ which covers an area of over 300 hectares.
In 1862 the government purchased a large piece of land for the new necropolis on the newly built railway line at what was then known as Haslam’s Creek, 17 kilometres from the Sydney CBD. It was planned out like a suburb with streets, avenues of trees, buildings for contemplation and divided into denominations according to their numbers in the 1861 census.
Rookwood was served by a rail spur from the main line from 1867 until 1948. The train carried mourners and the deceased in special ‘hearse’ carriages and left at 9.30am and 3pm from the small Mortuary Station (recently restored) at central Sydney. It stopped at pre-arranged stations on the journey in order to pick up mourners and coffins.
At the terminus inside the cemetery the coffins were unloaded by funeral directors and finally laid to rest with the appropriate rites and ceremonies.
Great great grandfather William Henry SUTTON (1808-1879) is down there somewhere, along with his son, also called William Henry SUTTON (1844-1868). Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney
[C of E / Section A / Plot 175]
William Henry SUTTON and his son are in an unmarked grave in the very oldest section of the Anglican area of Rookwood. William Henry, Jr. died of tuberculosis aged 23 years. He was buried at Rookwood just four months after the cemetery was opened in 1868.
His mother, Jane Penelope WELLINGTON and sister Henrietta SUTTON are buried together in a plot with a small flat headstone a few sections away.
Jane Penelope SUTTON (nee WELLINGTON) (1818-1896) and her daughter Henrietta SUTTON (1858-1933) are buried at Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney [C of E / Section CCC / Plot 1697].
In the old Anglican section I also found the family memorial of Robert BUCK. This grave is overgrown and rather crowded – 1 headstone covers 3 plots containing 9 souls:
1 husband, 2 wives and 6 young children. The fading inscription reads:
To the memory of Ann Emma Buck
the beloved daughter of Robert & Sarah Anne Buck
who departed this life December 22nd 1872 aged 10 months
also Sarah Anne
the beloved wife of Robert Buck
died 24th Jan 1876 aged 32 Years
also George Frederick
died March 7th 1876 aged 1 month 11 days
also Charles William
died 28th October 1876 aged 2 years 11 months
Blanch Honor Buck
died Dec 1st 1883, aged 11 months
Walter Sutton Buck
died Oct 20th 1886, aged 13 months
George Harold Buck
died March 7th 1890, aged 7 months
also Robert Buck
beloved husband of Annie & Honor Buck
died 4th July 1895, aged 72 years
also Honor Stretton wife of the above
died 1st March 1926, aged 73 years
Together in life and in death. The close-knit family of Robert BUCK (1822-1895), a draper and
hat merchant who emigrated from Grantham, Lincs. to Sydney, Australia. Robert’s first wife
was Sarah Anne COLLIER (1844-1876), his second wife was Honor SUTTON (1853-1926).
Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney [C of E / Section C / Plots 147, 148, 149]
In August 2004 I went on holiday to England and enjoyed a couple of weeks driving around the counties staying in B&Bs and researching the branches of our family. I spent a lot of time in libraries, county archives and wandering about in parish churchyards.
“The Lincoln, Rutland and Stamford Mercury” Friday 13 February 1824
DEATH – At Grantham on Thursday the 5th inst. Mrs BUCK, wife of Mr Hart BUCK,
of that place, aged 33, leaving seven small children, with a disconsolate husband,
to lament the loss of a most valuable wife and tender mother. Her remains were interred
at Grantham on Sunday and six of her children were christened at the same time.
There is no record of an enbloc baptism of BUCKs. The BUCK children’s baptism records are recorded as and when they were born and baptised between 1814 and 1824. Christenings were a different event to a baptism at that time.
Jane SMITH (1791-1824) first wife of Hart BUCK of Grantham, Lincs, England. Detail of a large granite headstone laying flat in the churchyard of St Wulfram’s, Grantham.
Memorialised on the same headstone are two of Jane and Hart’s children. The complete transcript reads:
to the memory of
Jane, the wife of
who died 5th Feb 1824
aged 33 Years.
also Thomas son of the above who
died 19th July 1824, aged 6 months
and Emma daughter of the above
died 16th March 1829, aged 8 years.
Under the lichen covered slab tomb on the far left are the remains of Hart BUCK (1787-1855), his second wife Mary HALL (1787-1861) as well as two of Hart’s granddaughters Caroline (1851) and Annie (1855) who died in their infancies. A neighbouring plot holds Hart’s eldest son William BUCK (1815-1882) and his two wives, Charlotte SHARPE (1827-1873) and Louisa DICKINS (1832-1897) in Grantham Cemetery, Lincolnshire [Plots 10 / 12x].
William BUCK was the eldest son of Hart BUCK and Jane SMITH and brother to Robert BUCK who emigrated to Sydney, Australia. William was a tailor in Grantham for much of the nineteenth century. We was a well-educated man and very keen on writing and performing comic songs and skits. He was an amateur thespian and put on concerts in the town. I will write more about this life in a few months, but here is a snippet – a poem full of puns he wrote down in his scrapbook about a graveyard and its contents.
A Graveyard and its Contents
Published in Frazer’s Magazine, July 1850
There lies levellers levelled, duns done up in themselves,
There are booksellers finally laid on their shelves;
Horizontally there lie upright politicians,
Dose-a-dose with their patients sleep faultless physicians;
There are slave drivers quietly whipped underground,
There bookbinders done up in boards, are fast bound;
There the babe that’s unborn, is supplied with a berth,
There men without legs get their six feet of earth;
There lawyers repose, each wrapped up in his case,
There seekers of office are sure of a place;
There defendant and plaintiff are equally cast,
There shoemakers quietly stick to their last;
There brokers at length become silent as stocks,
There stage drivers sleep without quitting their box.
Sometimes I actually need to search inside a church to find family memorials. I found our chemists, George WELLINGTON (1781-1847) and his son George Edwards WELLINGTON (1807-1843), inside Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist in Somerset.
The stonemason has wrongly carved “1849” into the marble memorial to George WELLINGTON (1781-1847) [Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist / West Wall of South Aisle]. George was a chemist and druggist, assistant overseer of the poor and a former town portreeve in Yeovil, Somerset. He definitely died in November 1847, I have his death certificate and an account of the coronial enquiry into his death – he was “found drowned”. Watch this blog for the full story.
George Edwards WELLINGTON (1807-1843) a chemist and druggist was only 36 years old when he died of a heart attack. [Yeovil Parish Church of St John the Baptist / West Wall of South Aisle] His brother William Edwards WELLINGTON (1813-1850) also died at the age of 36 years. William died of consumption (pulmonary tuberculosis).
George Frederick Noble WELLINGTON (1824-1887) has a memorial etched in one of the beautiful stained glass windows of South Petherton Church, Somerset. Frederick was a pioneering chemist and druggist along with his father, brothers and several of his brothers-in-law. The glass shows the marriage at Cana in Galilee; raising of Lazarus; and the miraculous gathering of the fishes. Along the bottom of the three lights are the words:
To the glory of God, and in memory of F.G.N. Wellington, for 40 years a resident in this Parish who entered into rest May 25 1887 aged 62 years.
Moving on to Leicestershire and the rain set in. Hard to keep your shoes dry rambling about in soggy churchyards, but wet headstones are much easier to read.
George BUCK and Priscilla are from the Lutterworth BUCKs. I have not yet found where this branch connects to our branch, but I am close. St Marys Parish Church, Lutterworth, Leicestershire.
While I was wandering around the slate headstones in Lutterworth churchyard
, looking for the Leicestershire branch of the BUCK family tree, I came across a couple of monuments I found interesting enough to copy and photograph.
In loving memory of
who died April 21st 1884 aged 73 years,
also Sarah, wife of the above
who died November 2nd 1893 aged 76 years,
and of Edwin Thomas, second son of the above
who died December 9th 1906 aged 58 years.
– He hath done all things well. Mark 7:37 –
Wouldn’t it be great to have the colourful name of RAINBOW? I have since found someone researching the RAINBOW family history who was happy to include these souls in their family tree. I’m glad I took the time to transcribe the headstone.
In Memory of William BANBURY Killed by Robbers upon Over Heath, Nov 23, 1676. A very old headstone found in Lutterworth parish churchyard.
Another intriguing find was a small slate stone covered in orange and pink lichens. It is a memorial to William BANBURY who met his maker in 1676 when he was murdered and robbed for half a sovereign on Over Heath. 335 years later I came across an enquiry about William BANBURY on a family history forum and was able to email this photo to one of his descendants.
Another mystery solved, maybe I could join the Scooby-Doo Gang.