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Brisbane, Paddington and Toowong Cemetery/Cemeteries

Although no formal records of burials were kept for the Paddington cemetery, there was a newspaper article in written and published in the newspaper the 'Truth' about 1909 before the paddington cemetery was demolished. To assit those looking for cemetery records, there are the stories of the lives of those early settlers buried there contained on three webpages:

Paddington Cemetery Vol 1

Paddington Cemetery Vol 2

Paddington Cemetery Vol 3

First Brisbane Cemetery

Among the men buried in the old graveyard between Roma Street and the North Quay were two named Stapylton and Tuck. Stapylton was one of three surveyors sent up by Governor Gipps to start a trigonometrical survey of the Moreton Bay district, the other two being Dixon and James Warner, who was, in after years, Sergeant-at-Arms in the Assembly.

Stapylton and his two men, Tuck and Dunlop, were attacked by the blacks near Mt. Lindsay, and Stapylton and Tuck were killed, Dunlop being left as dead, but he crawled into the scrub and was found there alive by the relief party from Brisbane, and recovered. The remains of Stapylton and Tuck were brought to Brisbane and buried in that old ground near Roma Street, where they may be turned up some day in an excavation or a posthole. Click Here for Further Reference

Two blacks named Merridoo and Noogamill were captured in May 1841, taken to Sydney, tried and sentenced to death, brought back to Brisbane and hanged from a beam on the present Observatory, the old convict windmill. These two blacks, the first men hanged in Brisbane, were also buried not far from Stapylton and Tuck. Click Here for Further Reference

It has been the duty of Christian communities to have burial places consecrated and set apart, one of the reasons being that the remains of the dead should be respected and protected from indignity. The first reference in biblical times to burying places is found in the Book of Genesis 49 verses 29 to 32, regarding Abraham's purchase of one (a cave) from the children of Heth.

In Brisbane the first area of sufficient size to be termed a Cemetery was still situated in 1840 in a portion of land bounded by Eagle Terrace, Skew Street,Saul Street and Upper Roma Street, on the outskirts of the then small town. Prior to the opening of Brisbane as a free settlement after the departure of the convicts, a survey plan for the proposed larger town, due to be established, had been prepared by Henry Wade early in 1842. The situation of an area for a Cemetery of 60 acres and the position of some of the original town allotments appeared on this plan.

Milton and Paddington Cemetery

This new Cemetery, which actually comprised seven small cemeteries, allotted to the respective religious denominations,became known by the combined name of Milton and Paddington Cemetery and was between Milton Road, Hale Street (formerly Cemetery Street), Sweetman Street, Dowse Street and Castlemaine Street. The proximity of both grounds allowed customary procession on foot, and drainage away from the early settlement served to allay sanitary concerns.

After the opening of free settlement in 1842 the population of Brisbane rapidly increased and the aggregate number of interments in the Milton and Paddington Cemetery from the time it came into use in the midyear of 1844 had grown to such an extent that in the early 1850's it became apparent that action would have to be taken for a larger Cemetery.

Brisbane cemeteries

Paddington Cemetery, was now in the heart of a prime inner residential area and was being challenged by the residents who feared for their health. A petition was forwarded in 1853 to the Government of New South Wales (of which the area now termed Queensland was then a portion), requesting that a new general Cemetery be granted. In reply, the New South Wales Government stated that land had already been allotted to the different denominations, i.e. the Milton and Paddington Cemetery

At the end of the year 1862, by which time, of course, Separation had been granted three years previously, the Brisbane Municipal Council requested the Queensland Government to grant an area of land for a new and larger general Cemetery beyond that at Milton and Paddington.

The Public Health Bill (Cemetery Act) of 1865 under which a Cemetery could be closed by proclamation was enacted. It gave a Governor power to close a Cemetery when it became an inconvenience to any adjoining population. Although the Milton and Paddington Cemetery was to be thus closed at the end of 1865 (except the Church of England portion) the Government found it necessary to extend this closing date until the end of 1866.

This extension was due to a fear that suitable ground might not be secured and prepared for interments in the specified time. Many years, however, passed before positive action was taken to close this old Cemetery.

Toowong Cemetery

A portion of Crown land had been selected as a site for a new Cemetery near the base of One Tree Hill (Mount Cootha) about 4 miles by road from the centre of Brisbane. The survey of this area (then known as West Milton) as a proposed Cemetery reserve was completed by H. C. Rawnsley on 6th June 1866 and consisted of 203 acres.

A further survey after an adjustment of boundaries was finalised by M. E. L. Burrowes on 18th October 1870 and increased the size of the proposed Cemetery to 257 acres. Heussler Terrace, part of which is now called Birdwood Terrace since 1920 formed the northern boundary and Wool Street was the original southern boundary.

Trustees were appointed immediately after the survey by M. E. L. Burrowes had been completed and they began a search for a suitable site for interments in the new Cemetery reserve. Finally in October 1871 an area of forty acres on the eastern side was selected from the larger area for the first interments.

However, the opportunity for the change of a burial site to the new general Cemetery at Toowong was not readily taken advantage of by the Government, neither did the relatives of deceased persons swerve from their preference for burials to be continued in the old Cemetery, for the various reasons set out in a subsequent paragraph.

The story of the old Cemetery, from the proposed closing date 1865 until the gazetted date of the opening of the Toowong Cemetery 5 July 1875 was a sorry one. Overcrowding of graves, neglected headstones, the situation of many graves in the hollows of the Cemetery, as well as those immediately adjacent to a closely populated area, all tended to firmly base the claim by various local petitioners on several occasions for the definite closure of the Cemetery and the removal of the unpleasant scene.

The burials continued there and evidence of the tardiness to divert these to Toowong was found in the fact that 163 persons were laid to rest in the Church of England portion of the Milton and Paddington Cemetery in the year 1872, seven years after the date of the first proposed closure.

Still, the Government for several reasons did not press very strongly on the general public to use Toowong Cemetery. The problem was one of compelling necessity on the one hand and frustration on the other, due to several factors not nowadays apparent, but which, in the years 1866 to 1875, were vividly realistic to those concerned with the responsibility of interment. Summarised hereunder are the main reasons which operated against the early use of Toowong Cemetery:

  • The situation of the area for the new general Cemetery for Brisbane should have been on the line of railway, the quaint term used in those days.
  • No public transport for the then lengthy journey of 41 miles, other than by horsedrawn hearse, mourning coach or hired cab (waggonette) was available. The railway through Toowong was not opened for traffic until 14 June 1875 but then with only a daily service of four trains which ran after that date.
  • The resulting costs of funerals were more expensive than if the body for interment had been conveyed by train (as had been the case in New South Wales for many years). A modestly arranged funeral to Toowong, if it consisted of a hearse and one mourning coach cost £10 which, expressed in relative modern currency would approximate £100 (or one third more than present day charges). This proved a financial hardship to persons with slender incomes.
  • To reach Toowong, in those days, by Riverview Road, later River Road (now Coronation Drive) was a long and tiring journey on a dusty road through the bush and occupied much more time than to Milton and Paddington Cemetery.
  • The unsuitability in those times of parts of Toowong Cemetery for burials due to the lowlying position subject to submergence in wet weather.

It was apparent that the Government's unhurriedness to rigorously compel burials to take place at Toowong was due to the foregoing difficulties. Illustrative of this fact was that from October 1871 when the site within the Cemetery for burials was selected by the Trustees, until the notification in a newspaper advertisement by the Chairman Alderman John Petrie, then Mayor of Brisbane, that the Brisbane General Cemetery at Toowong was open for burials on and for 5 July 1875, only six persons had been buried in the Cemetery as shown hereunder:

3 January 1871 Colonel S. W. Blackall
3 November 1871 Ann Hill
1872 No Burials
19 November 1873 Thos K. McCullough
19 November 1873 Martha McCullough
1874 No burials
16 March 1875 Teresa M. Love
4 July 1875 Florence C. Gordon
4 July 1875 Ethel M. Gordon
8 July 1875 Jas. T. Jackson

An explanation is necessary regarding the grave of Colonel S. W. Blackall (then Queensland's second Governor in office) was personally selected by him on a high spur now called Mount Blackall within the Cemetery. His action was prompted by a grim anticipation due to the knowledge that he was suffering from an incurable disease and that his passing from life was soon approaching.

The Government's decision to close, at long last, the Milton and Paddington Cemetery and open Toowong Cemetery was, no doubt, due to the availability of the railway which had been opened three weeks prior to the issue of the Supplementary Government Gazette. This directed that the opening date would be on 5 July1875 and allowed until 1 August 1875 as the final date for burial in the old Cemetery. A total of 4,600 interments had been

made there and the majority of those were of residents associated with the earliest days of Brisbane. A comparison of figures shows that from July 1875 to early in 1963, a, total of 106,000 persons now sleep eternally in Toowong Cemetery.

The layout of the Cemetery was designed by George Phillips, a prominent civil engineer of those days and the work of clearing unwanted trees, was carried out by a number of men who had been previously unemployed. In 1883 the road to One Tree Hill, Mount Cootha) was formed. An office for the transaction of arrangements for burials was opened in Queen Street near Edward Street after the opening date, as the distance to Toowong was of some inconvenience.

- Unknown

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