issue that contributed to the delay of the opening of the cemetery to the
public was finalising a number of important administrative tasks. Chiefly
amongst those were the approval of the Rules & Regulations and Scale of
Charges. In early March 1855, the Trust obtained copies of these documents
from the Melbourne General Cemetery and copied them with minor alteration.
However, it appears it wasn’t until 9 July - when the fencing issue was
resolved - that Simmonds submitted the Rules & Regulations to the Colonial
Office for approval.
On 17 August, after the Crown Solicitors had examined the Rules &
Regulations, the Assistant Colonial Secretary brought to the attention of
the Trustees three instances of the Regulations being “…in except of the
powers given to the Trustees by the Act of Council”, and requesting to
submit revised Regulations.
These were Rule 7 which was rescinded - “The name, age, late place of
residence, and probable cause of death, of the deceased, must be stated at
the time of giving the order”; Rule 11 - the exception being the passage
“…and a copy of every epitaph or inscription…”; and finally Rule 16 -
being the inclusion of the reference to the 14th Section of the
Act of Council. Having duly done so, these were published in the
Victorian Government Gazette on 21 September 1855, marking the official
opening of the Brighton General Cemetery.
Rules & Regulations, the Scale of Charges did not mirror those of the
Melbourne General Cemetery and suggests a degree of sympathy towards the
young and growing locality of Brighton. This was evident in the differences
between the two. Still born children were charged 1s less; while a
separate charge was applied for the interment of a child under the age of
12 months; and significantly, no charges were levied for permission to erect
a headstone over a gravesite.
important was the preparation of maps. Two sets were required. The first
was a general map of the cemetery showing each denomination that was placed
on a notice board erected near the main entrance gate.
Separate maps of each denomination were also produced after the Trustees
realised that a general map would not be sufficient to satisfy Rule 15 of
the Rules & Regulations that provided for a plan of the Cemetery showing the
location and availability of each gravesite to be open for inspection by the
public. These denominational maps could be inspected for 1s. Two
copies were made for the use by both the Secretary and Sexton out of
necessity due to the business of the cemetery being conducted at Simmonds’
address at Brighton and the Sexton working from the cemetery.
significant a task as laying out the denominational areas and main roads,
there is little mention. Two excerpts from the Trustee Minutes provide the
strongest indication that the Surveyor’s Office carried out both tasks:
The Secretary was also
instructed to provide a General Map on a large scale of the Cemetery ground
from the tracing sent from the Colonial Office...
The Secretary wrote to Mr
Foot to be informed if the Government supplied any other Maps of the ground
than the Tracing sent him and received the following answer.
In answer to your letter I
beg in reply to say that it is not usual for the Surveyor General to send
anything but tracings but there is a map at the General Surveyors [sic]
Office which a Private Surveyor could inspect and take a Copy from.
I remain Your Obt [Obedient]
H B Foot
serpentine roadways and formal symmetrical layout of the paths indicates
some influence of the picturesque Victorian garden cemetery in the romantic
style introduced by Albert Purchas (Boroondara Cemetery) who in 1852 laid out the
grounds of the Melbourne General Cemetery.
appointments was not an area that the Trustees took too much time to
consider. Neither the positions of Secretary nor Sexton were advertised.
The temporary appointment of John Simmonds as Secretary in September 1854,
even though serving as a Trustee for the Independent denomination was made
permanent and he served with distinction through a very difficult period
until his death in March 1860 aged 66. Salary was fixed at £200 per annum
paid quarterly, with an additional 2½ per cent on all outlays connected with
the Cemetery as Surveyor to the Trust.
However, this was before the Trustees realised the limited amount of funding
available from the government. Or underestimated the number of
that would take place. Or both. On 28 June 1855, well before the first
interment had taken place, Chairman O’Neill suggested that Simmonds’ salary
be reduced and after a discussion,
The Secretary offered to
perform the duties of his office for this year ending the 31st
for 150£. And it was finaly [sic] agreed that he be paid fifty Pounds to
the 30 of June. And the remaining 100£ on the 1st January 1856 if so much
money is in the hands of the Trustees at that time. If not only 50£.
appointment of John McMillan (1821-75), third son of Archibald, as Sexton to
dig the graves and undertake general labourer tasks was not finalised until
2 August 1855 - a little less than two months prior to the official opening of
Salary was set at £2 per week to be paid monthly commencing Monday 6 August.
This left very little time to prepare the land. The original intention was
to appoint both a Sexton and Keeper with a salary of £100 per annum plus “…a
home to live in and provided with wood and water”,
but as has been explained, the lack of funds soon forced the Trust to revise
the original plans and the position of Keeper was not filled. In contrast,
death was providing staff at the Melbourne General Cemetery a rather
generous salary. For the year ending 1854, as Secretary and Surveyor Albert Purchas received £450, while both the Keeper and Sexton were paid £3 each
decision to appoint McMillan as Sexton was made at the next Trustee meeting
following the interment of a poor man;
Brighton July 3 1855
This is to Certify that John
Alexander was buried in the Cemetery at Brighton by the Consent of two of
the Trustees (Mr H O'Neill & Mr McMillan) And on their representation that
he was a Poor Man no charge was made. The place of interment will be
marked on the map when prepared.
Witnessed John Simmonds
suggests that it was McMillan who dug the first grave. The site of this
‘illegal’ interment was probably marked on the tracing paper supplied by
the Surveyor’s Office while the denominational maps were being prepared, but
today its location remains a mystery.
By the end
of September 1855, the hard work over the previous twelve months of establishing
the cemetery was complete. The Trustees were gazetted, the land fenced, a
small room for the Sexton erected, and the administrative tasks finalised.
But its immediate future depended on whether the inhabitants of the area
would choose to be buried in an isolated location away from the main
town of Brighton in an under prepared cemetery without a residence for the
Sexton to provide security, when alternatives existed to be interred closer
at one of the two churchyard cemeteries.