Necropolis-Rookwood #2


Joined September 2008

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Rookwood Cemetery, NSW
Canon 350D

Featured in Honor The Dead Group, July 2010

*Featured in The World As We See It , or as we missed it. Group, June 2010!

The Europeans who died in the first few years of the settlement at Sydney Cove were buried at Dawes Point (at what is now the southern end of the Harbour Bridge) and at land near what is now Erskine and Margaret Streets (near Wynyard Station).

In 1792 the main burial ground for the colony was established on a site which is now occupied by the Sydney Town Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral. By 1818 the cemetery on the Sydney Town Hall site was full, so governor Lachlan Macquarie established a new one near the brick-fields, known as the Sandhills or Devonshire Street cemetery.

By the 1840’s, it became clear that this new cemetery was running out of space and so the search began for another, much larger site for a cemetery. In 1848 a new site on the road to Randwick was chosen. However, it was a controversial choice and after complaints from the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, government surveyors and local residents, this site was abandoned in 1859 without a burial having taken place.

The earliest references to the district around what is now Rookwood Necropolis, occur in 1793 when the first land grants to free settlers in the New South Wales colony were made nearby. As a result of its association with the first free settlers, the district was given the name of Liberty Plains. One of the smaller grants in the area was made to a Samuel Haslam.

The land, which was eventually to make up a large part of the cemetery, was granted to a prominent doctor, Parramatta magistrate and member of the legislative Council, Henry Grattan Douglas, in 1833. His grant, called “Hyde Park”, was soon leased to small farmers, charcoal burners and woodcutters.

In 1834, Joseph Potts, Bank of New South Wales accountant, bought land next to Douglas’s grant from the government. A few years later, both the Douglas and Potts estates were bought by a Sir Charles Nicolson and then passed to Edward Cohen. In 1851, there were only about 270 people living in the district. Most were timber cutters who shipped timber along the Parramatta River. In 1861, Cohen’s brother and agent, offered the land to the government for a cemetery.

In 1855 the railway between Sydney and Parramatta had opened and, four years later, a station was opened at Haslem’s Creek (misspelt from Haslam). Once the site was chosen by the government for a cemetery, the settlement around Haslem’s Creek grew as people who worked in jobs connected with the cemetery moved nearby. These residents, however, didn’t like the name of their village being associated with the cemetery at Haslem’s Creek, and so lobbied politicians to change the name of the settlement to Rookwood.

In 1879 they were successful but, unfortunately for them, the cemetery then became known as Rookwood Necropolis. Another new name was sought for the settlement and in 1913 it was named Lidcombe (adapted from the names of two mayors, Lidbury and Larcombe.

Informatuion from
History of Rookwood

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