Wednesday, August 15, 2018

HP2 In The Beginning A Cemetery A Church and A Park

In The Beginning #4


A Cemetery - A Church -   A Park





All Feature in the Lives of the Jillett/Bradshaw Family

St David's Hobart   -  A Cemetery, A Park and A Church

Centrepiece in city of Hobart, is a pleasant park.  An unusual park, surrounded by gravestones, memorials and monuments to those who returned from Norfolk Island.

In fact it marks more than those monuments, it was initially the site for the first burial in Tasmania.
It remained a cemetery until 1872, when it was closed.  So many of the Jillett/Bradshaw ancestors were buried there.  However it is also a cemetery steeped in controversy.

Lieutenant Governor David Collins is buried there, as is Surgeon Mathew Bowden.  Some reports in fact indicate they were buried in the same vault.

When Collins was buried, a church was built over the exact spot of his grave.  It was a place where he pointed out was meant to be the site of the first Church in Hobart.

Over time, the location of his grave has become clouded.   In April 1925, workmen digging unearthed his coffin, by mistake.  While it has been said his body was well preserved, from the herbs in the coffin, the wood of the coffin had rotted. 

These sorts of reports are written about in the newspapers of the days, and some are included, as is the 1811 map which shows precisely where he was buried.

Further details are included which describe perfectly his grave and his vault.

The existing monument was erected 26 years after his death.  The church on top blew over in a storm in 1812, and the first St David's Church not consecrated until 1823.  Over the years there have been several upgrades.

The original church had a clock in the sphere. Funds from the community were applied for the clock.  However it, like many more historic material, is no more.

Death of Robert Jillett


Robert Jillett died in 1832, a few weeks after making his will.  Thanks to Tony Beach and Sue Collins, they have his burial records!

Robert Gillett was buried by Rev William Bedford, if they held a service it would have been in the St David's above right.

St David's 1832

Death of Elizabeth Jillett 


Then Elizabeth died in 1842, of decay, and her service would have been in the St Davids above left.   Both were recorded by their son in law, William Young.

It is highly likely that both were buried at St. David's Cemetery in Hobart.

Both are also recorded on the Thomas Jillett Family Crypt in Oatlands.


In 1919 the Anglican Church sold the cemetery to the Hobart Council for 4,500 pounds.  In 1925 they, in what could only be described as wanton vandalism destroyed the graves, headstones, and created a mound of rubble.  Very few headstones remain.

Almost 100 years later, the church is again selling cemeteries and churches.  The same phrase can aptly be applied.


The following photographs are some that no doubt the Government and anyone involved with Heritage would hope never had been taken.  By whom? not known, but posted originally on Hobart Then and Now.

A tall imposing monument attracts the attentions and reveals itself as marking the resting place of "David Collins, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land"  Collins as a matter of historical fact, was not Governor of Van Diemen's Land, but of the settlement on the Derwent.  The Tamar settlement in the North of the Island did not come under his jurisdiction.  The two were united under one Governor in 1812, two year after his death.

This monument was not erected until 1838 by the "direction of Sir John Franklin."  One other Governor is buried nearby - Sir John Eardley Eardley-Wilmot, who died in 1847.

St Davids Church was initially established as a temporary wooden building in 1810, after the death of David Collins. On 19 February 1817 the foundation stone of the second St David's Church was laid on the corner of Murray and Macquarie Streets and the church was consecrated in early 1823. In 1842 when Hobart Town was declared a City, St David's Church became St David's Cathedral. In January 1868 the foundation stone of the present St David's Cathedral (the third St David's Church) was laid.

Within the cemetery  Bowden headstones remain.  Mathew Bowden died 1829, and Thomas Bowden accidently shot 1862.   Both sons of Mathew Bowden and Maria Stanfield. Brothers of John Bowden who married Eliza Jillett.

Eliza Sophia Bowden married James William Danby and is recorded as a death with her infant, Sarah Ann Bowden 1853.  Sarah died 4 days after the infants and are recorded under Danby

The Death of the Governor

Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer (Hobart, Tas. : 1810 - 1812), Tuesday 3 April 1810, page 1


" Ah! what is human life ! " How like the dial's tardy moving shade " Day after day slides from us unperceived— " The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth— " Too subtle is the moment to be seen ! " Yet soon the hour is up—and, we are gone !!

The melancholy and awful event which has happened since the Publication of our last Number, was so sudden, so unexpected that it appears like a frightful dream ; The mind is averse to acknowledge the fatal truth, and with difficulty we bring ourselves to receive the confirmation of its reality—The loss of friends is at all times a cause for sorrow, even when through disease, or age and infirmities, such an occurrence has been long looked forward to and expected—But when without any previous warning they are removed from us, and in one instant we are deprived of those most dear ; it becomes still more difficult to reconcile our minds to the loss, and we are almost tempted to arraign the Justice of that Providence which has taken them from this to another and a better world forgetting in our vain conceits that— " Each friend snatched from us is a plume " Plucked from the wings of human vanity "

The event alluded to is so recent in the memory of every one, and the death of LIEUT. GOVERNOR COLLINS is so sincerely felt and deplored by all the respectable, the industrious and honest in-habitants of this Colony, to whom he was truly a father and a friend ; that no apology is necessary for appropriating this Number solely to record the mournful occurrence. The LIEUT. GOVERNOR, had for some days been indisposed by a Cold, and had partially confined himself to the house but on the day of his demise (Saturday the 24th of March last) he found himself considerably better, and transacted business with S. Warriner his Clerk at 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

When Mr. Bowden the Medical Gentleman who attended him called, he expressed his hope that he should very soon be about again—He was then taking a cup of tea, and shortly after desiring Mr. Bowden to make use of some refreshment, he was observed to stretch out his hands and suddenly fall back in his Chair apparently in a fit. Mr. Bowden immediately gave the alarm, procured assistance and got some cordial down the GOVERNOR'S throat without effect he never spoke more !—And only when removed to a Couch gave one deep sigh and expired—All Medical aid was in vain for alas the tide of life had ebbed never to flow again"—He died exactly at half-past 7 o'clock P,M. The Grief, and consternation depicted in all countenances when the sad tidings were announced is more easy to conceive then describe—everyone wished to doubt the truth of the report—But " When the death bell smote the ear " Sad sounding on the gale—" Deep and silent dejection seemed to take possession of each breast, and nothing was heard but the low voice of mutual condolence.

Thus then departed this life at the age of about 54 years His Honour DAVID COLLINS Esq. LIEUT. GOVERNOR of His Majesty's Settlement at the Derwent and Colonel in the Royal Marine Forces, in which Corps he had been for, upwards of 36 years. In his youth he served several Campaigns in America under his Father the late General Collins, and was at the Battle of Bunkers Hill—In the Territories of New South Wales he had been in actual employment nearly a quarter of a Century, having (when a Captain in his Corps) been appointed Judge Advocate on the first establishment of the Colony at Port Jackson under Governor Phillip.

In this situation he continued until the year 1796. when he returned to England and published his history of the Colony in two Quarto Volumes—That he faithfully and ably discharged the arduous duties of the important Office he held is fully demonstrated by the favour shewn him by his Sovereign, who reinstated him to all the rank he had left in the Army by accepting a civil employment, and when, during LORD HOBARTS Administration, the present Settlement was projected to be established at Port Phillip in Bass's Straits, COL. COLLINS, was recommended from his abilities, long services and local knowledge of the Country and inhabitants, to have the Command and direction of Settling the infant Colony ; and accordingly received His Majesty's gracious appointment to be LIEUT. GOVERNOR thereof. In April 1803. He sailed in His Majesty's ship Calcutta, accompanied by the Ocean transport, having on board the ships most of the civil and Military Officer &c. on whom devolved the solemn task of paying the last tribute of respect to his Memory— In October the same year the ships arrived at their destined Port and the troops, prisoners stores &c. were disembarked—but a short residence proving that the spot was inadequate to the purpose of a Settlement, the whole of the establishment was removed early in the ensuing year to its present situation at the Derwent, where the LIEUT. GOVERNOR has constantly resided 'till this calamitous event, respected by us whilst living and universally lamented in his Death.

The person of our late LIEUT. GOVERNOR, was graceful and Commanding—His manners were affable and kind—He had read much—and in his Conversation was equally instructive and amusing—His Humanity to the unfortunate victims under his care was most conspicuous, being ever more ready to pardon than punish the offender—As far as his circumscribed means afforded in an infant state he attended to and complied with the WANTS AND WISHES OF ALL DESCRIPTIONS. 

Those who most intimately knew him will allow that this imperfect attempt to delineate his Character is not the voice of adulation—Ah ! he is now equally insensible to the blandishments of flattery and to the shaft of Censure—But the language of Sincerity his Memory demands. " Alas ! he claims it from the sable bier, " Where cold and wan the slumb'rer rests his head " In still small whispers to reflections ear. " He breathes the solemn dictates of the dead. " Are there any beings in this Colony, so despicable, so devoid of humanity, as to wish to " rake up the ashes of the honoured dead " and cast reflections on the Memory of him who is now unable to refute their calumnies ?—If there are such, we recommend them to apply to themselves this text of Scripture. " Thou hypocrite first cast the beam out of thine own eye ; and then thou shalt see clearly to cast out the mote from thy brothers Eye.


Funeral Proceedings

 Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer (Hobart, Tas. : 1810 - 1812), Tuesday 3 April 1810, page 2

It must afford a melancholy satisfaction to the relatives and friends of our late LIEUT. GOVERNOR, to know that every possible mark of respect and attention was paid to his honoured remains—The Body was placed in a Shell of Huon pine wood (which is impenetrable to the worm) this was enclosed in leaden Coffin, and the whole deposited in another Coffin of the same wood covered with black Cloth, having a Silver plate with the following inscription, HIS HONOR LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR COLLINS, AND COLONEL IN THE ROYAL MARINE FORCES, Departed this Life March 24th. A. D. 1810.

The Rooms of Government House were hung with black cloth and two Officers of the Establishment regularly sat up with the Corpse until the interment on the 28th prior to which LIEUT. LORD, of the Royal Marines, who succeeded to the Command on the death of the late GOVERNOR, published the following Orders.

GENERAL ORDERS. Head Quarters HOBARTTOWN, March 25th 1810. It having pleased Almighty God to take suddenly from us His Honor DAVID COLLINS Esq. our late much lamented and respected Lieut. Governor, the painful Task remains with me to announce the same, and to declare that by His Majesty's most gracious Instructions the Command of this Settlement devolves upon me until the pleasure of His EXCELLENCY GOVERNOR MACQUARIE is known thereon.

In consequence of the above melancholy event a suspension of all public labour will take place until after the Interment, except the necessary preparations for the Funeral ;—it is expected that during this interval the prisoners will shew their respect for their late much regretted Governor by their sober and peaceable behaviour. EDWARD LORD Commanding Officer.

GENERAL Morning ORDERS. (Head Quarters HOBARTTOWN, March 26th. The Funeral of our much regretted late Governor is fixed for Wednesday the 28th Inst. at 12 o'clock. The Commanding Officer trusts he need not order any one, but that all descriptions of persons will most readily come forward on this melancholy occasion, in a proper manner to pay the last tribute of respect to the Memory of their late beloved Governor—one who has ever had their real Interests at heart, who was a Father to all, and whose loss must and will be universally felt, and deplored.

GENERAL Morning ORDERS. Head Quarters HOBARTTOWN, March 28th. The Procession of the Funeral of our late Governor will move from Government house at half past 3 o'clock precisely when 57 Guns will be fired minutely from the Ordnance on the Parade. On this solemn occasion all Houses in this Town where spirits are sold will be kept closely shut until after the Funeral, as any who may suffer drinking there 'till that time, will incur the Commanding Officers Displeasure.—The execution of this order is instructed to the Military Patrole and Constables. EDWARD LORD, Commanding Officer.

The Rev. R. Knopwood read the funeral service in a very impressive and affecting manner, and the Ashes of our Departed Friend were about 4 o'clock consigned to the silent Grave with the usual Military Honours.

The Remains of the Governor were deposited in a brick vault, built purposely on the spot he had frequently pointed out as the site of a Church - and over it the Commanding OFficer intends immediately to erect one, the vault being directly under the alter.

On the following Sunday (the 1st Instant May) an Appropriate Sermon was preached on the occasion by Mr Knopwood, to a very numerous auditory, in the large room of Government house, from Rev. the 14th chap and 13th Verse.

Plan of the area where St David's Church was to be built and the Monument for Lieutenant Governor Collins in St David's Park.


St David's Church Hobart

On Saturday 23rd September 1820
The following Government and General Orders.
Government House, Hobart Town,   Saturday September 23rd 1820.
The Lieutenant Governor directs, that the New Church of Hobart Town shall be called "St David's Church" out of respect to the memory of Colonel David Collins of the Royal Marines, under whose direction the Settlement was founded in the year 1804, and who died, Lieutenant Governor, in the Year 1810.

In August 27th 1925, a report in the newspapers marked the occasion of the St David's church. 
On February 19, 1817 the corner stone of St David's Church was laid.

The stone was laid with Masonic banners, the chaplain preaching from the text "For other foundations can no man by than that is laid which is Jesus Christ".

St David's Church was a long time in building.  The first record of its being used for divine service appeared in the "Gazette" on April 6, 1822.  In the following year the Rev Samuel Marsden, who was senior chaplain of New South Wales, visited Hobart Town under commission from the Bishop of London to consecrate the church and the burial ground, there being no Bishops in the Australian colonies. St David's Church was consecrated on February 15, 1823.

On 7 January 1835 the steeple of the Church was declared unsafe, and taken down.  On 18 March 1835 a tower known as the Pepper Pot was erected in its place.[1]   Plans had been drawn in 1834.

  St David's Church features in the lives of almost every ancestor.  They were baptised, married and died, with services at the Church.  However, when Robert and Elizabeth married, they did so in the small hut.  Then in 1823 the first church was built, another in 1830's followed by 1870's.


The Park was Developed

 The Church and its Failings as to the Maintenance of the Graves 1884

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Saturday 24 May 1884, page 3


Sir,—How long is the churchyard belonging to the cathedral of Hobart to remain a reproach to our city? St. David's is the oldest burial ground in Tasmania, and within a few years of the oldest in Australia. There sleeps David Collins, the founder of Hobart, and our first Governor. It is full of the graves of men eminent in our early history.

There are few of our older families who have not some of their members buried within its limits. Situated in the heart of the city, belonging to the wealthiest and most fashionable congregation in the colony, attached to the Cathedral Church of the leading denomination, we might have reasonably expected that it would be made beautiful and carefully tended as became its importance and its association.

Yet this Campo Santo of Tasmania which should be a ornament and an object of pride to the city, remains a disfigurement and a reproach. The crazy fence which surrounds it, patched and tumbling to decay, would be a disgrace to an Irish cabin. A filthy drain creeps through it, struggling amidst a thicket of basket willows. It is over run with a rank growth of weeds and scrub ; and its rotting enclosures and tottering and mouldering gravestones speak eloquently of absolute neglect. It has lately become the common receptacle for the rubbish and filth of the neighbourhood.

The Church of England has always steadily maintained its exclusive right to this national cemetery, and is responsible for its present discreditable condition. Through a long course of years the cathedral drew a handsome income from burials in the ground, but since the revenue has ceased the ecclesiastical authorities have not been ashamed to allow it to remain a monument of neglect, and a standing satire on the church's professed reverence for "consecrated ground."
Yours, etc,

Sir,—In your issue of last Saturday was an article on " An hour in a Graveyard," which I read with feelings of regret, regret that so many now living in Hobart who have relations of all kinds buried in St David's burying ground should by their neglect tolerate the disgraceful state the graves have been allowed to get in. Two years ago I went through the same grave-yard, I saw sights which fairly sickened me, a grave with nine or ten coffins in, full of water (a vault) lying one across another, and all exposed to decay, having let part of the vault in, and all this in the heart of a Christian community.

Truly, our Christian feelings are very shallow and superficial, as far as respect for the dead is concerned, and I think the heathens are superior to us in this respect. They carry out their views of reverence for the dead. Can nothing be done to alter this graveyard from being the disgrace to Christians it is ? I say yes, and without robbing any of the living who have relatives buried there. Upon going through the graveyard lately, at a rough calculation, I can count 1,000 names on gravestones, well-known, who have relatives now living in Tasmania, who can well afford without missing it to give 2s.. 6d. each per annum to keep a good man regularly employed to keep every single grave clean, tidy, and becoming, plant the walks with ornamental trees, and lay out the whole upon a thorough system. To get the funds, say 10 gentlemen who have relatives buried there be a committee and got a canvasser to canvass the 1,000 names for 2s. 6d. each, which would bring in £125, ample for everything, and I guarantee to say he would not have a refusal, and in twelve months' time a very different place it would look.

Of course there are hundreds of graves unknown, but my suggestion is to tend to every single grave in the churchyard and thus make some atonement for what is now the greatest disgrace any person can be shown in Hobart—a disgrace that puts our Christian reverence for the dead to shame.
Hoping an abler pen will now carry out my suggestion.
Yours, etc.,
CHRISTIAN.   Hobart, May 20.

The Cemetery in 1910

St David's Cemetery in 1910

On Saturday 19th March 1910, a report in the newspapers, discussing "An Old Cemetery".

To begin with, it was the last resting place of two of our Lieutenant-Governors - David Collins and Sur John Earley-Wilmot.  Collin's monument, long projected was erected in the time of Sir John Franklin, and surely some respect is due to the memory of the man who founded Hobart, and fixed the site of the capital of Tasmania, where it still remains.  But for him we should probably be most of us now residing in Risdon or thereabouts, and perhaps there would be meetings in New Town and Glenorchy to urge the immediate construction of a bridge across the Derwent to connect them with the capital.  There is also a monument to the later Governor, Sir John Eardley-Wilmot.

In spite of the number of the older stones which have been broken, lost or rendered indecipherable to the uninitiated by time, there are still to be read memorials of those whose connection with Tasmania dates back to the very early days.  Of two, at least, of those who came over with Collins in 1804, it was felt worthwhile to record the fact on their last monuments, ciz "Mathew Bowden, late principal surgeon of this colony, who died in 1814 at the age of 35" and Thomas Williams, who died in 1827, at the age of 48.

Another report in the paper of Wednesday 13th November 1912

In 1811, one year after Collin's death Governor Macquarie came from Sydney, bringing with him the Deputy Surveyor General of New South Wales and the plan of Hobart was made.

This plans shows a line commencing at the intersection of Macquarie and Harrington streets (the corner peg of the allotment on which St. Joseph's Church now stands) and extending to the eastern peg of St. David's Cemetery.  On this line is marked, from the actual survey, the church which, as before mentioned covered the vault of David Collins.  This plan has been in the possession of the State for some years - perhaps twenty - and a reproduction of it may be seen in the memorised volume to the late Backhouse Walker )Tasmanian Public Library).  It seems passing strange that the grave of one so intimately connected with the planting of the Anglo-Saxon races in Australia and the consequent strengthening of the British Empire should be so deplorably neglected.  He was judge-advocate to the settlement of the English in Australia and the first Governor of Tasmania" , also author of the early history of New South Wales, saw active service at the naval engagement of Gibraltar and also Bankers Hill War of Independence.

Of himself he said "I have been such a neglected man" and neglect has followed him beyond the end of the chapter.   Yours etc.  A.Y.Z.

The location of the first church is outlined on the Map drawn in 1811.
The 1811 survey map of Hobart shows the site of Gov Collins grave, and the Church which was erected above.  That Church was where Robert and Elizabeth Jillett were married in, in 1812.
It was destroyed in a storm in the same year. 

After taking office after the death of Gov Collins, Governor Macquarie then set about resurveying the town.  He also issued notices as to how the buildings were to be constructed.
This information is particularly relevant to Robert and Elizabeth Jillett, in relation to their first house in Collins Street.

On Saturday 8th October 1921, another report "Passing Notes"

Now regarding this same St. David's cemetery, I noticed a paragraph this week that about a century ago the remains of a respected official of Collin's time were interred near to our first Governor's monument.  It is understood that certain relatives of the deceased recently ascertained that some valuable document were enclosed in the vault and obtained permission to open it.  The searching party made a mistake, however and unearthed the wrong body.  In fact they were in a vault entirely unknown before and which had become covered by several feet of earth.  A brass plate showed the remains belonged to a Military officer of the Royal Marines, who died in 1812.  The remains, we are informed by the new item were suitably re-interred, but nothing is said about whether the seekers after :valuable documents" intended to go on digging up all sorts of other people until they got the right person.   The thought is rather an alarming one, and, as Macaulay remarked about Montgomery's obituary poetry, it would seem as if a new terror had been added to death. ........

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Friday 14 July 1922, page 4


For many years various opinions have been expressed as to the beginnings of the historic burying ground of St. David’s, at Hobart. At a meeting of the historical section of the Royal Society on July 12, Mr. W. F. D. Butler, in the course of some remarks, based on the early days of Tasmania, produced a statement from the journal of the Rev. Robert Knopwood under date Friday, April 27, 1804, as follows:—”At eleven the Lieutenant-Colonel and self went and marked out a burial ground at a distance from the camp.” On the next day Mr. Knopwood has this entry in his journal —”At half-past 2 p.m. I buried Mr Edwardes’ child.”

A return by David Collins, showing the persons who died in his expedition from the time of leaving Spithead to July 31, 1804, included the entry, “Elizabeth Edwards, a free child at Hobart Town, April 27, 1804.” It is difficult to say who “Mr. Edwardes” was, as his name does not appear in any of the official lists of Collins’s party. The interesting point is a demonstration of the fact that two months after Collins’ landing at Hobart the burial ground was actually marked out and used for the first time.

A Chance Find in April 1925

Friday 27th May 1825

Whilst Colonel Collins lived everything that could be done, was  effected to lay the foundation of a splendid Colony.  He nurtured industry and encouraged repentant imperfection.  He perished with a prayer for Tasmania's advance. - "And what! no monument, inscription, stone?  His race, his form, his name almost unknown!"  Shall the sacred dust of him who founded our "adopted country" be trodden on by cattle?  Shall painted cherubim and commendative pomp, with blasphemous or vain appropriations of scripture cluster round the putrifiying relics of once notorious delinquency, whilst the grave of our gallant and patriotic soldier is dishonoured, undistinguished, and almost forgotten?  Avert it decency, avert it recollection, avert it anxiety to be considered amiable; for they who do not reverence the sepulchre of virtue are devoid of it! 

World (Hobart, Tas. : 1918 - 1924), Monday 21 August 1922, page 2


"In this historic burial ground  are the tombs of Collins, Wilmot, Bicheno, Bedford, Crowther, Hutchins, Kelly and many others who made their mark in their day and generation."

Continuing our series of articles on the old cemeteries of Hobart, we now come to deal with what, from its position and history, is undoubtedly the best known to this general public of them all, St. David’s Burial Ground. Right in the heart of the city, the Sandy Bay tram running round two sides of it, this hallowed, yet desolate, spot is a familiar sight to thousands of our citizens every day of the year. Before proceeding to speak of some of the graves therein it may be useful to refresh the reader’s memory as to the present ownership of the place.

By an Act of the Tasmanian Parliament, “following an agreement dated October 13, 1919, the ground passed from the trustees for the property of the Anglican Church in Tasmania, to the ownership of the City Council. Thus terminated disputes, negotiations and misunderstandings which had extended over many years, and further paved the way for one control which would bring about a state of decency and respect for the dead long desired by the Inhabitants of the capital. Alas, for the vanity of human wishes we are no further forward after nearly three years. By an order of Governor Sir Charles Da Cane (July 22. 1872), the ground was closed as from November of that year.

Since then no burials have taken place, but the agreement of 1919 provided that the City Corporation should remove at the request of descendants and without cost (if made within two years of the enabling Act) any remains and headstones to Queenborough cemetery. The area of land thus transferred is about five and a half acres, and the price paid to the Anglican authorities, £4500 in debentures, redeemable in ten years and bearing interest at five per cent. The Act states that the object of the sale is that the Corporation may make the spot a “place of quiet recreation for the public under proper conditions and regulations, and so that the same may in time to come be an ornament to the city.” Well, it must be admitted that the city fathers don’t seem to be in any hurry about it.
There are no rents to collect Full power, by the way, is given to th» Corporation under file Act to take expected care of the historical monuments, particular mention being made of several, but strangely enough not that of Bicheno.

A timely added interest to these memorials of the dead worthies of the country is to be found in the procedures of last Wednesday meeting of the Royal Society, when it was decided to urge on the City Council the desirability of preserving a fairly large number of the, historic monuments of the place. These will include the grave of Governor Collins, that of Eardley-Wllmot (who by the way was the father of the Royal Society, which took its origin from a meeting held at old Government House on October 14, 1843,  Bedford, Kelly. Hutchins, and several others.

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Saturday 18 April 1925, page 5

(By J. Moore-Robinson, F.R.G.S.)

The cemetery of old St David's, Hobart is yielding its century-old secrets. Bravely has it held the romances of the settlement days in Van Diemen's Land, but now yielding to modern requirements and in the course of changing from a cemetery to a recreation ground a veritable harvest of romance is being gathered.

Chief among those lying in this old-time "God's Acre" is David Collins. Around the story of Collins a fabric of uncertainty has been woven. This is due in part to the loss of early records in part to the fact that Collins was not one of the great men of history, and in part to a chronological error made by no less an authority than Sir John Franklin. It is a curious fact that the date of Collins death is wrongly inscribed on his tomb. Epitaphs are proverbially unreliable but dates on cenotaphs are usually correct. Then, again, historians, have juggled with the facts. It has been said severally that Collins was not buried in the cemetery, but under the altar of the Cathedral; that his remains had been removed, that one of the early doctors—sometimes Hopley and sometimes Bowden—was buried in the same vault. In all of these has rumour proved to be the lying jade of repute.

An examination of the ground in the vicinity of Collins's tomb has resulted in several interesting revelations. To begin with, Tasmania's first Governor was not buried under the tomb but some distance from it. Again, his vault was unusually large and deep. Again, the vault lies at an angle compared with the modern cenotaph. This is interesting because it indicates that the vault was constructed while the old burying ground was still "in the bush," while when Franklin erected the tomb in 1837 its alignment conformed to the boundaries of the cemetery. The vault lies east and west, the tomb faces the S.E. The vault was over 8ft deep and 9ft long and over 4ft wide. It was constructed of bricks—bricks typical of the first decade of the 19th century, bricks long and wide and very flat. I have observed similar bricks at the first settlement at George Town, and probably both came from the same place.

The vault was strongly arched, and the original en-trance was from the western end. When 27 years later Franklin, with native generosity erected the handsome monument, he probably decided that, owing to its great weight, it should be built on solid ground at the western end of the vault, and in order to guard the remains he laid a massive block of freestone over the vault. This is a beautiful piece of stone 10ft long, 4½ft wide, and over a foot thick. It is said to weigh three tons. Franklin opened a new entrance to the vault at the eastern end and chiselled on the freestone slab: "The Entrance to Governor Collins's Vault." A recent examination of the vault indicated the fact that Collins has rested in solitude. There is no sign of the presence at any time of another interment. This effectually disoses of the story of one of the doctors having been buried with Collins.


In his generous labours Franklin committed an error. Either he was careless or misinformed. For 88 years the great monument he erected has blazoned to the world the statement that Collins died on March 28, 1810. It is curious that such an error could have been possible. As a fact, that was the day of the funeral. Collins died at 7.30 pm on Tuesday, March 24, 1810, and was buried on the following Saturday, the 28th. Adopting a suggestion the Tasmanian Diocesan Council has agreed to alter the date. At the same meeting Dr Crouch moved and Mr. Dennis Butler seconded a resolution which permits the Council to cause an additional slab to be attached to Collins's tomb.

The inscription on this slab will set out that it is erected on the site of the first church building erected in Tasmania. And thereby hangs the tale, because later historians believing that Collins was buried under the altar of the first church, and believing also that "old St David's" Church and not this temporary wooden building was the first church have in imagination shifted Collins to where old St David's Church stood.

This curious theory received support from the remark-able fact that under the altar of old St. David's Church a vault-like structure was prepared and was the subject of much curiosity when the building was pulled down in 1874, and no man knoweth the why and the wherefore. When Collins died the officers of the establishment were sorry. With a tardy recognition of the fitness of things they erected a temporary wooden structure over his vault and used it for divine service. It was completed in 1810, but was what a modern would call "jerry built."

 In it that crusted old Divine, the Rev. Robert Knopwood, preached, telling his congregation, as T. G. Gregson avowed, to "do as I say but not as I do." The building was only about 30 feet by 15 feet, and in 1812 was blown down by a winter tempest. Its woodwork was despoiled and the burial place of Collins uncovered. To quote Tasmania's veteran historian, the Rev. John West, "Thus the first Governor's burial place was laid bare to the careless tread of strangers." And so it remained until, as aforesaid, Sir John Franklin reared the present monument in 1837.


It is not difficult to visualise the burial of Governor David Collins R.N., 115 years ago, March 28, 1810. The details are set out in that curious weekly newspaper in titled "The Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer." This remarkable publication, the first newspaper of Van Diemen's Land, had only about 12 issues. It appeared once a week and cost 2s per copy. It was about the size of a double sheet of notepaper, and its news items varied with the fickle fancies of its editor, reputed to have been the Police Magistrate and Mineralogist, Mr. A. W. Humphreys. In the issue No. 7 of Tues-day, April 3, 1810, this venerable newspaper details the sad event.

With the faithfulness of a modern moving picture director the "Intelligencer" mapped out the funeral proceedings. A diagram indicated the position of the late Governor, the chief mourners, the mutes, the officers and the settlers. So faithful a story needs no embellishment and though only three copies of this issue are extant it may still be inspected by those sufficiently interested.

To it Collins's successor, Edward Lord, Senior Lieutenant of Marines, contributed an eloquent panegyric. He lauded the virtues of the late Governor and with remarkable lack of literary invention shamefully plagiarised the American who wrote of George Washington, calling Collins "the father of his people." At the same time Lord authorised curious public expenditures for the funeral including black silk hat bands for the mutes and military, white cotton stockings for the ladies, black arm bands for the officers and other items which were utterly disallowed later on by the supreme Governor at Sydney.

The cortege was slow, long and impressive. There was the rolling of the military drums as the sad procession wended its way through pristine bush. The military were properly pipe-clayed and brushed. The Rev. Robert Knopwood, in full canonicals occupied his allotted place and in sonorous voice solemnly committed the remains of Collins to the safe keeping of mother earth. The beautiful words of the unchanging liturgy must have seemed solemnity it-self. "Earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes." Thus were committed the remains of David Collins, which were enclosed in a Huon pine shell. This was placed in a leaden coffin, which in turn was placed in a Huon pine casket. The coffin was lowered into the vault, bricklayers sealed the entrance, and Collins lay at rest.

He was no great figure and his abilities and disabilities have been limned by various historians, including Professor Ernest Scott. None can claim for him the wisdom of a great pro-consul. Contrary to evidence, he officially stated that what is now Victoria was a waste and unfit for human habitation.
A man of medium height, of slight build, he reached only, I believe, the altitude of a petty tyrant. He stood by while one of his soldiers received 700 lashes, and he flogged women at the cart's tail through the settlement. Although his orders reeked with pious sentiment, in his six years of settlement at Hobart, he failed to erect one place of worship. It is true that in this he erred in goodly company, for many years elapsed after settlement before Sydney had a church.

The Port Phillip settlement established by Batman, Falkner, Wedge and others was well established before a place of worship was thought of. Still Collins might have done better. He attempted to lay-out of Hobart which at the time of his death was a chaotic collection of dwellings. That he was shamefully neglected by the Imperial authorities is true. Yet while he fills an important nitch in the interesting history of Australian settlement he fills it somewhat ungraciously. Still, peace be to his ashes, for I am glad that an investigation of his last resting place has enabled us to set at rest, I trust for ever, some disquieting uncertainties which have wreathed his story.

., 2011 , The Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer, 3 Apr. 1810 Index. Royal Society Collection , Royal Society of Tasmania, University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia.

The Derwent Star and Van Diemen's Land Intelligencer, 3 Apr. 1810 Index. Royal Society Collection , Royal Society of Tasmania, University of Tasmania Library Special and Rare Materials Collection, Australia.

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Monday 4 May 1925, page 3


Mr J Moore-Robinson has written to the Mayor regarding the re-naming of St David’s cemetery as follows –

I notice that the question of the reserve being created from old St David’s cemetery was in two forms, before your Council at its meeting on Monday night last. I desire to refer to both phases of this question. Relative to the question of naming the reserve the committee reported in favour of Wilmot Park. I have no objection to this name which is to a certain extent satisfactory. At the same time I think a better title would be St David’s Park or reserve. This name would be most desirable as it would preserve the identity of the ground. I need not here state the historical importance of this particular piece of land. It is sufficient to say that it was the first burial ground marked out in Tasmania and therefore the first reserve of any kind and on it was built the first church erected in the State. Although the evidence is so scanty it is certain that at a very early date it was known as St David’s Cemetery. From the points of view of sentiment, historical accuracy, and continuity of identification the name St David’s is entirely appropriate. I conceive that its adoption would prevent any confusion in the minds of people who might be revisiting Hobart.

I was very much surprised to observe that a letter had been received from the Very Reverend the Dean of Hobart asking that the remains of Collins and the monument erected by Franklin should be removed from the cemetery to the precincts of St David’s Cathedral. From an historical point of view and as a citizen of Hobart I desire to enter a most emphatic protest against this request being acceded to. Governor Collins has absolutely no historic or other connection with St David’s Cathedral.

Although the laying of the foundation stone of old St David’s Church is stated by one authority to have been commemorative of a church to be named after Governor Collins’s Christian name, yet at the laying of the foundation stone of St David’s Cathedral Bishop Broughton specifically emphasised the fact that the patronymic had its origin not in David Collins, but in St David, the patron saint of Wales. The Bishop’s pronouncement was consonant with ecclesiastical practice.

From this point of view there would be no relevance in the remains and monument of Collins being in the precincts of the Cathedral. On the other hand there is a distinct significance in Collins’s monument being in its present position, namely, as marking the site of the first burial ground, as being the site of the first church to be erected in Tasmania, and being the burial place of Tasmania’s first Governor. Additional to these arguments, which I conceive to be very much to the point, the City Council in consenting to the removal of Collins would place itself in the position of possibly losing the most important of the historical monuments left in old St David’s, with the logical result that only the less important ones might remain.
I confess to surprise at the action of Dr Crowther in making the suggestion presumably with the assent of the council of the Royal Society, because it was the Royal Society which chiefly participated in the movement for the retention of the six historic monuments in old St David’s. It is difficult to discover any logical corollary in the action of the Royal Society two years ago and that emanating from Dr Crowther this month. I sincerely trust that permission will be refused for the removal of Collins’s tomb and monument unless similar action is taken relative to the six historic monuments now remaining in old St David’s.

In this connection I am at a loss to understand the action of the Very Reverend the Dean in asking for the Church possession of Governor Collins and ignoring the high church dignitary, Arch deacon Hutchins whose remains are also counted among the historic six of old St David’s. The preference to Collins in this connection is so extraordinary as to leave me to wonder if, to use a colloquialism, “all the cards are on the table.”

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Thursday 31 March 1927, page 7

Until a few years ago (writes “J.W.D.” In the “Sydney Morning Herald”) one of the few unsightly spots of Hobart was the old cemetery of St. David’s Church of England. The original St. David’s was destroyed many years ago by fire, but the cathedral in Murray-street carries on the name of its forebear. This old cemetery has now been changed from a shunned and dilapidated home of the dead to a well-patronised park, covered with a fine carpet of lawn, and possessing well-kept mower beds.

Those responsible for this rapid metamorphosis have evidently had in mind the travelling and tourist season, as well as having more than a sneaking regard for antiques. Whoever heard of a municipal council collecting headstones? But here it has been done. Most of the park on one side is a stone fence, and on the inside of this and all other sides the headstones have been re-erected so that he who walks may read. As one reads these epitaphs one cannot help feeling the definite link-between our day and the Infant days of our colonies.

Here is a tablet erected when Napoleon received his final blow. There are more first erected in the year Queen Victoria was born. Here are others recording deaths in the year in which Port Arthur was established as a convict settlement. Now is one reminded of the trooper who met his death at the hands of bushrangers, erstwhile convicts. Now it is the loss of a “burke” and bodies washed ashore.

In 1844 the number of military men on the Tasman Peninsula was 317, and in the park we see headstones erected to the memories of members of the 50th, 40th, and 63rd regiments, Others there are, too, bearing the names of the King’s Own Light Infantry, the 21st Reg. Bengal Native Infantry, Tasmanian Volunteer Force, and the H.D. Royal Artillery.

A captain of the 21st Fusiliers wrote the following epitaph to his wife’s memory:

Lo, she lies here in the dust; The Hand of Elegance is at rest, The Kind, the Candid, the Meek is now no more, and her memory fills me with grief.
It was in this company that the martinet commandant of Port Arthur, Captain Booth, held his commission.
Another epitaph, not unlike one in Eden (N.S.W.) is:
She was–
But words are wanting to say what,
Think what a wife should be,
And she was that.

Some graves have not been disturbed. The tombstones over these are undoubtedly worthy of preservation. Beneath one are the remains of Sir John Eardley Eardley-Wilmot, who was Lieutenant-Governor of the colony. Nearby is one erected to the memory of “David Collins, Esq., Lieut.-Governor of this colony. On first establishment of the colony of N.S.W. he was employed as Deputy Judge Advocate, and in the year 1803 he was entrusted by H.M.’s Government with the command of an expedition destined to form a settlement at Port Philip, on the south coast of New Holland, but which was subsequently removed to Van Diemen’s Land.
 He it was who directed the choosing of the site of Hobart, the first building of which was begun in 1804. The first church, that of St. David’s, was built in 1810 over the grave of Lieut.-Governor, Collins, whose body rested beneath the altar.”

The report in the Mercury on 31st March 1927, has some facts incorrect in relation to the original church.    

It is now well known that the first four grantees of land in Tasmania were Lieutenant Leonard Fosbrooke, Doctor Matthew Bowden, E. Miller, and J.M. Johnston, each of whom had 100 acres near Humphreys Rivulet. Bowden died on October 23, 1814, and was buried near the grave of Governor Collins. Richard Pitt, who came to Tasmania with Collins, was also (about 1803) a grantee of land near New Town. He died on May 14 1826 and is buried near Collins and Bowden. Descendants ol
Pitt and Bowden are still to be found in Tasmania. Pitts are numerous.

There is inside the Cemetery along one of the walls, a gravestone embedded into the structure. 
It is the headstone of a convict, Jacob Dennis.

Headstone :

Jacob DENNIS Who died at St Marys Hospital Hobart Town 18 June 1861 Aged 65 years.
This stone was erected by his master Thomas JILLETTE whom he served faithfully for twenty years and God for about the same period

Jacob Dennis, one of 160 convicts transported on the Hibernia, 20 November 1818
Essex Assizes

Some Links with the Past

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Saturday 25 March 1939, page 15
OLD ST. DAVID'S  Interesting Links With  The Past  FIRST WHITE CHILD

A few weeks ago the question of who was the first white child born in Tasmania was raised through the correspondence columns of "The Mercury," and the following details, presented in a paper read before the Tasmanian Society by Sir Herbert Nicholls, throw interesting light on the subject:
In addition to the monuments in St. David's Park, which have been left in their, original position, there are many stones of historical interest, and others, which by their inscriptions "carved by the unlettered Muse" are illustrative of the manners of long ago. The most important is that recording the birth and death of the first white child born in Tasmania. It stands against the Harrington St. wall and is in perfect preservation except as to a verse below the formal statement of names and dates, which, with very little trouble, could be made legible.

The inscription reads:
George Kearly was
Born July the 9, 1804,
And died the 15th. .Joseph Kearly was
Born May the 30,
And died the 5 of August, 1805.

In a despatch from Colonel Collins to the Colonial Office, dated August 3, 1804, an enclosure, referred to as Return No. 3, gives an "Account of Births from the Embarkation at Spithead to the 31st July, 1804." The list includes two children born at sea, two born at Port Phillip, and a male child, son of George Kearly, a marine, born at Hobart Town on July 14, 1804. In another return is recorded the death of George Kearly (infant), on July 15.

It will be noted that the return and the inscription on the stone do not agree as to the date of birth, but agree as to the date of death. As Collins had two medical officers looking after his people, the date in the return probably is correct. In any event the return and the stone both refer to an infant named George Kearly, who died July 15, 1804. So that the question whether the child was born on July 9 or 14, is unimportant, as it would be absurd to suppose that there might have been two of them. The stone evidently is the work of an uneducated person, and the "s" in the first line is turned backwards. There is no means of telling whether the stone was erected when George Kearly died, and the name of Joseph added after-wards, but the error in the date probably means that the stone was erected after the death of Joseph Kearly.


There is no record of any births at the Risdon Settlement. There, were only eight women In Bowen's original party, and within five months of his landing Collins had settled at Sullivan's Cove, it may safely be concluded; therefore, that the infant George Kearly was the first child born here, and that he lived only a day.

Close by the Kearly's stone is that of Matthew Bowden, Second Surgeon (afterwards First Surgeon) of the settlement. He it was who was with Colonel Collins when the latter suddenly died. He played an important part in early Hobart Town, and it is difficult to see why his tombstone should be hidden in shrubs and left to decay away.

The grave of William Buckley, "the wild white man," was covered up by spoil from the deep-drainage excavations, lt lay on the north-east side of the little Harrington Rivulet, now covered up, at a point about 70ft. at a. right angle from the Davey St. fence, and in the so's of the last century was regularly shown to visitors by the aged caretaker of the cemetery, who said that there had never been a head-stone. The grave was "ft. long. The place could be fixed with sufficient accuracy to justify the erection of a stone marking the resting place of a man whose strange adventure is still of interest to all Australians.

There are many monuments of interest in the park, most of them in good condition. It is safe to say that the cost of selecting and arranging them in a group in the park would be less than the labour required to pull down or otherwise destroy- some-historians building or other!'." relic. "Historical things are worth preserving 

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