Augustas Richard HOLLEBONE , 1807–1876 (aged 69 years)
ST. JOHN'S CEMETERY, PARRAMATTA
Extracts from “The Parramatta Cemeteries - St John's" by Judith Dunn of the Parramatta and District Historical Society, 1991)
St John’s Cemetery, the oldest existing European burial ground in Australia, was established on the southern outskirts of the Rose Hill settlement in 1790. There were ten burials in the cemetery by the end of 1790 and a further 67 in 1791.
The death of Henry Edward Dodd, 28.1.1791, approximately one year after the first burial in the cemetery, has given Parramatta two important firsts. Dodd was Superintendent of convicts employed in cultivation at Rose Hill and his was the first public funeral in the colony. His headstone is the earliest in situ in Australia. It was an indication of the esteem in which Henry Dodd was held that when the colony was facing famine, a headstone was provided. It simply inscribed, H. E. Dodd 1791.
A Government Order dated Saturday 11 May 1811 stated:
". . . It being a sacred Duty incumbent on All, to guard and protect the Remains of their deceased Friends from every unnecessary Exposure, it hence becomes necessary that the several Consecrated Burial Grounds should be speedily inclosed in a decent manner."
The inhabitants of Parramatta began an Enclosure Fund in accordance with the government order. The resulting ditch and fence cost £82-4-7, a large sum of money in 1811, and indicating that it must have been a very substantial barrier as convict labour was fairly readily available. However, by the early 1820's the bank and ditch enclosure had fallen into decay and Governor Brisbane gave instructions for the brick wall, which still stands, to be built around the site.
Unfortunately, no records survive that detail any aspect of the construction of the wall; tile brickmaker, builder, and cost are all unknown. The bricks are, however, the typical apricot colour and similar in texture to other bricks known to have been made in Parramatta. Many of the bricks in the wall have impressed arrowhead marks. John Clew's bricks, distinguished by his elongated heart frog mark and by their speckled markings due to impurities in the clay, were subsequently used to repair the walls. He had a particular affinity for the cemetery and its wall and when dying, requested he be buried "as close to his beloved brick wall as possible", His grave is alongside the northern boundary.
From the earliest years to late Victorian times the cemetery has seen a huge variety of funerals from the poorest to the most showy and elaborate. Both local and Sydney papers prove a valuable source of information for funeral services and customs of the times. The funeral of D'Arcy Wentworth Esquire took from one o'clock until four o'clock to wend its way from Homebush to the graveside. The Reverend Samuel Marsden was buried "in his own churchyard at Parramatta and upwards of sixty carriages formed the mourning procession.”
In the 1930's the cemetery records were destroyed by fire. Many early Australian church records no longer exist due to flood, fire, vermin or human neglect such as illustrated by the well known entry in a clergyman's wife's diary:
"The following day being wet, I put the girls to the task of cutting up the old church records as I have found the paper more suitable for the use of curling paper for the girls hair. "