Early Sydney Burial Grounds

The first burial ground in Sydney was the site of Robert Campbell’s premises lower George Street, when the first fleet reached Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788, some of the marines and sailors, died from scurvy and dysentery and were buried at this locality which was the scene of the first hospital erected in Australia. In July 1788, Governor Phillip reported that 20 men and 8 women convicts had died since landing and some were also buried at this spot. By September, six men four women and nine children were added to this list which with three marines and two children made up 52 deaths since the time of landing, four men has been executed and three killed by the natives and it is presumed they were buried in this locality. In September 1788 Thomas Bulmore a marine had a quarrel with some of his comrades and died from the effects of the fight. He was also, buried at this spot. (Huntington)

By February 1790, one woman who was executed for a robbery and five children were added to the list of burials, on the 2nd February 1789, Captain Shea died and was interred with military honors. In 1875 the writer (Huntington) witnessed a tomb stone unearthed inside Mr Campbell wall and the stone was broken in half nevertheless he (Huntington) copied the following which formed part of the inscription thereon. (Huntington)

Here lieth the ? of John Jones
And Worthey
Who De Parte Life the 10th (sic)

(John Jones, convict buried 16 October 1792)
The stone formed part of Campbells wall and was cut in half.

Burial ground Clarence Street SydneyThe second burial ground was situated in Clarence Street behind the Military Barracks. In June 1790, the second fleet reached Port Jackson and landed 488 persons under medical treatment. Of the sick people 50 died and were buried in the Clarence Street Cemetery. On the 14 February 1792, the Pitt arrived with Major Grose in command of a company of the New South Wales Corps. There had been great sickness on the passage and after arrival 13 soldiers, seven seaman and 22 male convicts and nine women were buried in the Clarence Street Cemetery. … It may be incidentally that a number of the convicts were buried at North Shore, where a Cemetery was marked out in the vicinity of Milson’s Point. Upwards on 100 bodies were buried in the Clarence Street Cemetery and the latest date on the tombs was 1792, the writer (Huntington) is inclined to believe that this was the convict cemetery while Campbell’s wharf was reserved for marines and sailors (Huntington).

# Includes extracts from Henry Huntington, History of Sydney Burial Grounds, NLA, MS 3490.

Sydney Morning Herald, 7 November 1936: 18

Links Coming soon

  • Old Sydney Burial Ground (1792 – 1820)
  • Devonshire Street Cemetery Sydney 1819 to 1891
  • Oldest known headstones in Australia