Dead Central — and my convict ancestor

The State Library of NSW has an interesting exhibition now: “Dead Central, a new exhibition that opens on Saturday, pays tribute to the lives of those buried at the cemetery between its opening in 1820 and closure in 1867.” See also the exhibition site.

A vast cemetery once sprawled across the land bound by Sydney’s Elizabeth, Pitt and Devonshire streets — where Central Station now stands. The Devonshire Street cemetery opened in 1820, but the city’s major burial ground filled up quickly in the decades following, only to become overgrown and abandoned. In January 1901, when the state government announced its intention to clear the cemetery, well over 30,000 bodies were buried there.

It is most likely that Jacob Whitfield, my convict ancestor who arrived in Sydney in 1822, was buried there, though there is no record of this. Many of the records are lost.

Here is an image from the exhibition site:

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Last November I posted Hey you! That might be my great X3 grandfather!

Bizarre story from the Sydney Light Rail project a few days ago….

My great-great-great grandfather Jacob Whitfield was buried there. Or so we believe. See my series of family history posts, particularly on Jacob.

There is a Wiki Tree page on Jacob too. I first accessed it last Friday. An extract:

Death date and place unknown – Jacob is found still living in 1851 according to a news article. This would make him 92 years old !

Death and Burials : Friends Burial Ground – Old Devonshire Street Sandhills Cemetery, reference : “Burial Notes missing : Jacob Whitfield” no indication of his date of death or burial….

Friends Burial Ground – Old Devonshire Street Sandhills Cemetery, reference : “Burial Notes missing : Jacob Whitfield” no indication of his date of death or burial. Burials took place in the Friends Burial Ground from after 1851 ..

The Devonshire Street Cemetery (also known incorrectly as the Brickfield Cemetery or Sandhills Cemetery) was located between Eddy Avenue and Elizabeth Street, and between Chalmers and Devonshire Streets, at Brickfield Hill, in Sydney, Australia. It was consecrated in 1820.[1] The Jewish section was used from 1832.[2] By 1860, the cemetery was full, and it was closed in 1867….

That Wiki Tree page has lots of information congruent with the researches of Bob Starling and other family historians, and some that isn’t. Interesting. See also my Family stories 3 — About the Whitfields: from convict days which features quite a few contributions by those family historians…

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60 years ago in Shellharbour

Back when I was 15/16 I attended the centenary of Shellharbour Public School. I was in the company of my parents, Jeff and Jean Whitfield, my grandfather Roy Christison and various Whitfield relatives in Shellharbour, such as Una Gerke. My grandfather was there as the oldest living headmaster of the school. Here are some images I posted last year:

post on Facebook’s Shellharbour History and Pictures has generated this wonderful war-time picture of my uncle Roy Christison Junior, my grandmother Ada Christison, and my grandfather Roy Christison Senior in Sydney. (Note the tram!)  Posted by my cousin Linda Christison.

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In that same Facebook thread someone asked if anyone had seen a photo of Ada and Roy taken in the 1930s when Roy was headmaster of Shellharbour Public School. Well, I have: it is in my collection. That is the headmaster’s residence in Shellharbour.

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So I looked over Trove and found three items. The last one should say Caringbah, not Callimbar! The middle one refers to my aunt Beth, Beth Heard in later life.

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Sorry Bob! Well, there you go…

Today I am carrying a souvenir from my time in Surry Hills. Strangely relevant again!  And no, I am not foaming at the mouth — that’s morning coffee from Diggers.

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Oh — and at least the Bunnies won, unlike Scomo’s Sharks!

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I am determined today not to get hysterical about the Australian election result. Rather, let me itemise some good things.

First, remember that ratbag Fraser Anning visiting Cronulla not long ago, and how it ended with a cameraman losing his shirt? You will be pleased to know that the people of Cook are not all bad: FA’s candidate got 0.6% of the vote!

Second, Gilmore rejected Scomo’s drop-in candidate! Labor won with 52.8% of the vote, after preferences.

Third, that gross creature Clive Palmer failed to win any seats at all, either in the Reps or the Senate! Unfortunately, his preferences and his toxic ads were a factor, especially no doubt in Queensland.

And speaking of Queensland, despite the best efforts of my relatives up there, it was likely the key place of Labor destruction, in no small part because of the Adani mine issue. My two cents worth: I do wish Bob Brown hadn’t taken his Sunday School Picnic to the Carmichael Valley. It no doubt had the reverse effect to that intended.

So there we go, folks! My footy tipping (Bunnies excepted) was pretty ratshit this week too — but we live to fight another day.

Seriously though, at my age there is every possibility I won’t live to see another Labor government. In three years I will be older than my father was when he passed away!

Legend! Bob Hawke 1929-2019

Here I am holding one of Bob Hawke’s enduring legacies.

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And here is his last legacy, just last week:

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Labor elder Bob Hawke has written an open letter to voters calling on them to vote for Bill Shorten and his team at Saturday’s federal election.

“While Bill’s political opponents argue his trade union background is a liability for a future prime minister, I consider it an asset, as it was for me,” the former Labor prime minister writes.

Ideas that we grapple with — and often fail on

I too have grappled with this one. Time spent at South Sydney Uniting Church a few years back with norrie made me confront the usual stereotypes and prejudices. So now I accept that “male and female created He (sic) them” is hardly a scientific or adequate account of the human condition. See Anatomy Does Not Determine Gender, Experts Say.

You may then be interested to examine carefully The Gender Centre, which features apparently in the latest Murdoch broadside against Labor in one of his oh-so-objective tabloids.  Fortunately the Tele is behind a paywall, and there is no way I am giving them my money!

You may also find some related matters in an earlier post here, from the time when Malcolm Turnbull was PM trying to be all things to all people:

Looks like we are seeing on several fronts what the corollary of “agility” is for Malcolm Turnbull – a surgical removal of the spine. Very disappointing. I borrowed my heading from Sean Kelly at The Monthly.

Turnbull caves to Liberal right-wingers*

…a couple of weeks ago I gave credit to Simon Birmingham, appointed education minister after the snarly mess Christopher Pyne had made of that portfolio, for sticking up for a schools program that was under threat.

Under that program a teaching manual, aimed at combating bullying against young people who might be just discovering they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex or transgender, was distributed in schools.

As the Australian reported at the time, the program has the backing of the Australian Secondary Principals Association, beyondblue, headspace and the Australian Education Union.

Some religious groups, however, decided they knew better. The Australian Christian Lobby spokeswoman said that forcing students to imagine themselves in a same-sex relationship was a “form of cultural bullying’’.

Yes she did.

Birmingham didn’t give some mealy-mouthed comment in response to this garbage. On the substance he pointed out the program was opt-in for schools, and on the principle he said: “Homophobia should be no more tolerated than racism, especially in the school environment. The resource is intended to support the right of all students, staff and families to feel safe at school.’’…

Today Malcolm Turnbull hung Birmingham and his pretty principles out to dry. At the prime minister’s invitation, the minister will report back to the Liberal party room on the results of an independent review of the Safe Schools program that will now occur. (For “invitation”, read “order”.)

In other words, he gave a whole lot of oxygen to the very debate his own minister had recently called “foolish”….

See also Max Chalmers, The Anti-Gay Emails To MPs: Safe Schools Program Will ‘Destroy Civilisation’,  Safe Schools: Education or social engineering?Safe Schools: Malcolm Turnbull requests investigation into program helping LGBTI students, Jill Stark, Safe Schools program: why zealots are trying to drag us back to the dark ages. From that last one:

Imagine being 12 years old and seeing your name scrawled across a school toilet door next to the word “faggot.” Or being beaten up and spat on by a gang of classmates who discovered you were a “tranny.” What if you were kicked out of your football team because you weren’t “masculine” enough?

These are just some of the real life school experiences young people have shared with me over the past few years.

We may pride ourselves on being the country of the “fair go” but in 2016, bullying of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) children remains rife in our schools. It makes the relentless and vicious attacks against a program set up to protect those children even more abhorrent.

As Malcolm Turnbull yesterday caved into his party’s religious right and announced an investigation into the Safe Schools Coalition one thing became clear: we are in the midst of a culture war. And vulnerable children are being used as cannon fodder.

In a Coalition party room meeting on Tuesday, February 23, Senator Cory Bernardi called for the program to be defunded, claiming it was being used to “indoctrinate children into a Marxist agenda of cultural relativism.”…

Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87: .@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.

First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers.

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I think it is brilliant and just wish that it had been there ten to fifteen years back when I was still tutoring and teaching and even on a high school welfare committee. Mind you there have been precursors like Bullying No Way and Racism No Way in NSW….