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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Anzac Day 2019

What better than to repost from last year?

I have posted often on this, as Anzac Day reposts: 1 shows. In 2015 I posted:

In my Neil’s Decades series you will find much that is relevant.

See

And going back to the South African War I should add:

….pictures of the people – all relatives – mentioned in those posts…

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John Hampton Christison in South Africa; David Christison, his son, a sapper on the Western Front in WW1; Keith Christison, my uncle, WW2

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Neil Christison, my uncle, RAAF WW2; Jeff Whitfield, my father, RAAF WW2

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Norman Harold Whitfield MC and bar, German New Guinea, Gallipoli, Western Front – from Wollongong; Kenneth Ross Whitfield, my uncle, from Shellharbour

One hopes that 2019 Anzac Day will pass without incident, given recent events in New Zealand, Turkey, and Sri Lanka.

 

Back in April 2006!

Yes, I was blogging way back then, and even further back! I have repaired the links.

In the city seeing my brother off

25 APR 2006

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It was a bit complicated getting to King Street Wharf as the city was still sealed off pretty much for Anzac Day. The bus deposited me near St James Church, not exactly close, but I got there in time after negotiating Martin Place which was full of people in kilts and/or playing bagpipes. Some Scottish regiment having a remembrance ceremony.

After seeing my brother off, I walked back to Circular Quay via the historic Argyle Cut (see pic) where you may still make out the occasional broad arrow left by the convict roadbuilders.

Easter Sunday in Surry Hills

16 APR 2006

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Just got a phone message from my brother Ian, who lives in Tasmania, from the above ship saying he was now off the town of Shellharbour, where our father was born, and expected to arrive in Sydney Harbour at 11am. So that’s where I am off to shortly.

Then at 1pm it’s off to St Vincent’s Hospital. Sirdan and I are having lunch with Lord Malcolm — I did see him yesterday — at a Thai restaurant near the hospital.

So no church for me today, but a special day nonetheless.

My past catches up

25 APR 2006

Got this email.

Hi Neil,

I was a former student of yours at Sydney Boys High. Perhaps you still remember my name. I certainly remember most of the stories you told us in English class, e.g. the fellow you met as a child named ‘Rear Admiral Sir Leighton Bracegirdle’. I also remember your recital of Caedmon’s hymn with proper old English pronunciation.

To cut a long story short, I am now working as a Computer Systems Engineer in the city and I am still in the office. I decided to do what I do whenever I am bored – an unclaimed money search.

Do you by any chance have ‘Thomas’ as a middle name? If so, the NSW Office of State Revenue has $76.80 of your money. Even if it’s not you, it should mean something that I thought of you when thinking of people to look up.


Indeed it does; but my middle name is not Thomas. Thanks, V.L. This sort of thing happens from time to time. 🙂

And look what intellectual stuff I taught in class, even if at that time — it was during John Howard’s first term — the reactionaries were bleating about dumbed-down syllabuses just as much as they do today! Pests.

Oh, and I didn’t meet the Rear Admiral: he spoke to us at a school assembly, possibly for Anzac Day.

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Leighton Bracegirdle in 1932