Heidelberg Old Cemetery



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This small private cemetery was the first in the Heidelberg District with the Warringal Cemetery (Heidelberg) taking over the role as general cemetery for the district. The cemetery can still be found in Hawdon Street, although it is now reduced in size to a single building block. There are a small number of headstones still standing and a memorial plaque at the front of the cemetery. The Banyule Council currently maintains the grave restoration and maintenance. Two houses have been built on the remaining ground after the person wishing to build the houses (an architect) in the 1950s/60s arranged for the exhumation of the graves on this land and the reburials at Warringal Cemetery.

The cemetery was first used in 1852 and was commenced by private citizens. In 1852 the nearest cemetery was at Melbourne and on the death of Elizabeth Oswin, aged 11 years, the burial was to take place at Melbourne General Cemetery but the funeral party could not traverse the road and flooded river so the burial did not take place as planned. The first recorded burial at Warringal was not until April, 1858. Mr Oswin, together with several others including the Church of England Minister purchased a block of land on the corner of Hawdon and St James Road for use as a cemetery. St James Road was known as Cemetery Road for many years. The cemetery now faces only Hawdon Street. When the last Trustee of the Hawdon Street died in 1897, the cemetery passed into the care of St John's Chruch of England, Heidelberg.

A central church set of burial records identify the following number of burials in the cemetery as follows:
- 1853: 6 burials.
- 1854: 26 burials
- 1855: 1 burial
- 1856: 1 burial
- 1857: 4 burials
- 1858: 1 burial
- 1859: 2 burials
- 1860: 6 burials
- 1861: 7 burials
- 1862: 4 burials
- 1865: 1 burial
- 1866: 1 burial
- 1867: 1 burial
- 1870: 1 burial
- 1871: 43 burials
- 1873: 2 burials
- 1874- 1904: records missing
[Note: Hopefully St John's Church of England, Heidelberg may hold this information in their burial records]
- 1905: 1 burial
- 1906: 1 burial
- 1911: 1 burial
- 1916: believed to be final burial.

NOTE: List of these burials- names and most dates are available

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 A number of the early settlers in the district are buried there, but it now a closed cemetery. These settlers include:
* Andrew/Nicol,
* Barbour,
* Coltish,
* Gale,
* Himbury,
* Hopkins,
* McCullum,
* Meade,
* Nuttall,
* Oswin,
* Pegg,
* Thompson,
* Wadeson, and
* Whippell/Wippell

The Heidelberg Historical Society has also assisted with maintaining the cemetery. I have a number of the death certificates for these burials and information on most burials identified to date.

The main set of records (Memorial Inscriptions) for the cemetery date from 1851 to 1909 with the memorials being transcribed in 1913 by G.P. Townsend.

One of the earlier tombstones reads:
"Erected by Ann in affectionate memory of her husband James Gale aged 66 and of James the only son of the above who was killed at sea on "ANJER" Aug 1, 1881 age 36 years, also of Ann wife of the above, died at Hawksburn 14 Apr 1888 age 78 years. And Ann eldest daughter of James and Ann Gale died at Fitzroy 15 Nov 1887 age 39 and of Catherine only daughter of above died at Heidelberg May 1853 age 11."

This cemetery has a very interesting history and I have been researching it for several years. There were a number of newspaper articles on the cemetery in the 1930s that I have been able to obtain copies of. There is a hand drawn map showing the current memorials in the cemetery.

The Heidelberg Historical Society also holds quite a bit of information on the cemetery.

David Weatherill
Email: djweath@bigpond.net.au
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia



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