Through 150 Years

 
   
Chapter 4.  Struggle for Survival – 1856 to 1860  
 
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Leading up to the official opening of the Brighton General Cemetery in late September 1855, the Trustees had every reason to be optimistic of the future.  Besides, death was proving to be financially successful for the Melbourne General Cemetery.  But in every way, Melbourne General was born in different circumstances.  Like a lavishly adored child, its success was always assured.  The government saw to that.  And for the infant cemetery at Brighton, the difference between survival and struggle was a fine line that relied to a large extent on death from within the Brighton Estate whose population was estimated at 2,700 in 1854.[1]

Having officially opened to the public on 21 September, it was to be another three weeks until the first recorded interment took place.  On 14 October 1855 at 4:30pm, Joanna Wallace Manson a ten month old baby to John Wallace Manson and Joanna née Cunningham was laid to rest in a solemn ceremony in the Methodist public section officiated by Reverend Bickford.  She died from dysentery the previous day.[2]

More remarkable are the headstones of the third and fifth recorded interments that survive to this day in excellent condition.  William Henry Bouthflower Cardin, was just a strapping lad of sixteen when he drowned on 25 October.  A native of Brighton, his burial in a private grave on 2 November 1855 was officiated by Reverend Samuel Taylor of St. Andrew’s Church of England.  The circumstances surrounding the death of Thomas Augustus Cargill, a bank manager from Sydney, can only be described as unusual.  Born in Edinburgh, Scotland he died from a “mental aberration” at the age of 38 years old and was buried on Saturday 17 November at 4:00pm.  If one looks carefully at the inscription on Cargill’s headstone, the monumental mason incorrectly inscribed “October” before hastily transposing the correct month.

Many of the original interments in the early days were likely to have been located in hastily prepared areas that required little or no clearing of the land.  This is evident on the denominational maps showing each gravesite.  In the Methodist public section where baby Manson was interred, the first graves are not symmetrical and are positioned as if turned anti-clockwise.  Another example exists nearby in Section “D”.

Just fourteen interments took place for the rest of 1855 returning £9:8:0, or just 13s 5d each.[3]  To cover the cost of wages, let alone clearing the land and building an office and cottage for the Sexton, the Trust needed to raise over £250 in receipts each year.  This didn’t occur until 1885.[4]  There was also the natural water course that flowed through the “Outer Reserve Area” immediately south of the main entrance gate which urgently required a culvert.  Clearly, the Trustees had to take action and they sensed the struggle ahead even before the cemetery had officially opened.  Their only solution was to seek funding, and for this, they decided to turn to the government. 

(above) Monumental Headstone to William Cardin (2004)

(above) Monumental Headstone to Thomas Cargill (2004)

                                                                                                                           Brighton Sept 20th 1855

 

The Honorable [sic]

the Colonial Secretary

 

Sir,

 

The Trustees of the Brighton General Cemetery have directed me to inform you that nearly the whole of the four hundred Pounds £400:0:0 granted to the them [sic] for the purposes of the Cemetery is expended in fencing in the ground etc [?] and that no funds are left for carrying out a few things requiring to be done immediately Such as making a culvert over a water course leading to Entrance Gates, Felling Trees in the Roads & walks also clearing the different portions of the ground for interments, Building office [?] for the Sexton etc etc.

 

I have therefore to make application for a further sum of three hundred Pounds £300:0:0 or any other sum that could be conveniently advanced as a further loan until the Estimates are before the Legislative Council.

 

I have the honor [sic] to be

Sir

Your Most Obedient Servant

John Simmonds

Secretary[5]

A month later after seeking advice from the Treasury,[6] the Assistant Colonial Secretary (J. Moore) replied “that the public demands on the Treasury and the State of the Revenue generally, prevent his Excellency from at present acceding to the application of the Trustees”.[7]  The Trustees then decided to leave the matter in abeyance until after the Legislative Council had assembled when they would seek political lobbying.[8]

In the meantime, costs had to be cut.  As Secretary, Simmonds’ salary was safe.  But the Sexton wasn’t so fortunate, and with £20 in the bank, McMillan was given one months’ notice on 29 October.[9]  However, he was re-employed but only for digging graves and a more equitable remuneration was negotiated - 7s for every adult and 3s 6d for a child’s grave.  McMillan was eventually dismissed on 7 February 1856 not for the lack of funds, but for refusing to dig any more graves at that price.[10]  He was replaced that day by Benjamin Whitcomb (c1820-84)[11] on the same rate.

Then in December, with renewed determination and persistence, the Trustees stepped up their efforts.  But this time, the government was given what can only be construed as an ultimatum - provide additional funds or they would resign their Trust.  The exchange of letters between Simmonds and the Colonial Secretary between December 1855 and April 1856 makes for compelling reading.  Both forceful and desperate, Simmonds proved a worthy foe in challenging the government’s doctrine on cemetery funding.  The stakes were simply too high to do nothing.

On 4 December, Simmonds wrote to the Colonial Office this time trying a different argument.  He explained that in consequence of the Trust seeking the loan of £2,500 after the Legislative Council had voted the sum of £2,000 for cemetery purposes, they had only received £400 and requested that the Colonial Secretary consider their position before laying before the Legislative Council the estimates for 1856.[12]  Four days later Simmonds received a curt reply that the letter had been “erroneously addressed to this office” and the matter was transferred to the Colonial Treasury.[13]  Having received the letter from the Colonial Office, on 11 December the Trust was asked by Treasury “to state what manner the Trustees propose to appropriate so large a sum”.  The Treasury Office presumed the Trust was after £2,100 being the difference between the amount originally sought and the amount received.[14]

Cemetery Office Brighton Decr 15th 1855

 

The Honorable [sic]

The Colonial Secretary

 

Sir,

 

In reply to your of the 11th inst I beg to inform you that at the time the application was made (the 12th April 1855) for the grant of 2500£ The Trustees had procured [?] Plans & Specifications of the Trustees & Sextons offices etc and for the fencing in the ground (20 acres) similar to the Melbourne Cemetery and obtained Estimates from several parties for the execution of the same.  The Result was that for:

 

The fence the lowest Tender amounted to

£875:0:0

For the Offices

800:0:0

For Clearing the ground making walks etc

400:0:0

Preliminary expenses in Furniture for the Trustees Office, incidental expenses in Stationery Printing Rent etc

125:0:0

The Sextons [sic] & Keepers [sic] Salary were fixed at £100 per year each

200:0:0

The Secretarys [sic] at 200£ per annum and 2x½ [?] per Cent on the outlay as Surveyor

200:0:0

 

£2600:0:0

 

These several items amount to be 2600£ but the Trustees only applied for 2500£ In consequence of the putting up an inferior fence at half the cost of the Estimates for.  They now venture to ask for only 1500£ this year which will enable them to pay off what they are in debt and carry out the objects contemplated at this time.

 

I have the honor [sic] to remain

       Your Mt [Most] Obt [Obedient] Servant

               John Simmonds

Secretary[15]

The reply from the Treasury Office on 31 January 1856 was simple and to the point - money was only advanced by the Government for the purposes of fencing.  Such a statement had already been elucidated to the Trustees, and had never been questioned.  Simmonds probably half expected such a response, but the following comment must have been galling to read; 

And as it appears the Trustees have received a sum of four hundred pounds (more than the fencing actually cost) no further application can be entertained by the Government.[16]

Whatever it was about the reply, it led to one of the most strongly worded letters, that for the first time indicated the Trustees were willing to resign their positions.

Cemetery Office Brighton

Febr 7th 1856

 

Sir,

 

The Trustees of the Brighton Cemetery has requested me to write to you in answer to yours of the 31 Jan last wherein you state that the “money can only be advanced to trustees of Cemeteries for the purpose of fencing”.

 

To disabuse your mind on this point I beg to refer you to the 4th 5th 6th & 13 clauses of an Act Entitled “An Act for the Establishment and Management of Cemeterys [sic] in the Colony of Victoria No 12 17 Vic Assented to March 23rd 1854”.

 

Under the provisions of this Act The Trustees accepted their appointments.  You will see that the objects of their Trust embraces many other things besides the mere fencing in the ground.

 

And can you suppose for a moment these Gentlemen would so far have committed themselves as to ask the Government for 2500£ when the Estimates they intended to take for the Red Gum fence was 875£.

 

If you will refer to my letter to the Chief Secretary on the 4th of Decr 1855 you will find a request not to forget to place Brighton on the Estimates this year as our application was too late last year.  And in that I wrote to you of the 15 same month I gave a detailed account of what the sum was required for this year.

 

The Trustees had no idea of a refusal from Government of the sum they required and they have only considered it (lately) as a question of time upon the faith of which they have continued to perform their duties as Trustees notwithstanding they have had difficulties to contend with, such as not being able to pay their Secretary, & to suspend the Sexton etc.

 

Unless the Government will take this state of affairs into their favourable consideration and Grant a further sum to defray the expenses the Trustees much against their inclinations will have to resign their Trust into the hands of the Government.

 

The Trustees expressed a wish that I would communicate to you that they neither received nor wished to receive with fee or emolument for the duties they performed that the style of your reply to my letter of 15th of Decr was more intemperate that they were prepared to receive.

 

I have the honor [sic] to remain

           Sir

                   Your Mt [Most] Obt [Obedient] Servant

                           John Simmonds

Secretary[17]

Was the threat to resign bluff or brinkmanship?  Simmonds again turned to the political influence of Miller and Chapman and met with both on 13 February.  Miller promised to raise the issue with the Colonial Secretary and this he did on Tuesday 19 February.[18]  Still, the reply from the Treasury Office was the same.

Simmonds persisted, but this time lowered the amount previously sought.  Miller was again approached, if only to seek £400-£500 to enable the discharge of debts and other essential works, such as a culvert at the entrance, Simmonds noting that “no [horse] carriage can enter the Cemetery without difficulty”.[19]  To maintain the pressure, a similar letter was sent to both Chapman and (Sir) John O’Shanassy (Melbourne General Cemetery)[20] - then a leading politician in the 1850s as a member of the first Legislative Council and a trustee of the Melbourne General Cemetery. 

In reply to Simmonds’ letter of 7 February, the first signs appeared that the Treasury Office was relenting and gave the Trust some hope of receiving additional funding.  It also revealed that the government’s position was unrealistic by suggesting the mere ability to charge fees would enable Cemetery Trusts to defray costs.  This may be the case once a cemetery was established, but not during the difficult formative years when receipts would be insufficient to cover expenses.  It also ignores the difficulty for Trusts to levy charges deemed excessive. 

The Act empowers them [Cemetery Trusts] to make Regulations for the general management of the Cemetery and to impose certain fees etc which ought to be sufficient for the maintenance of the ground.  If however the Trustees have rendered themselves liable to any expenditure through a misconstruction of the Act, or from any idea that the Government would do all that the Act empowers them to do which they have no means of liquidating and they will furnish me with the particulars of such expenditure the Circumstances of the case shall have my best consideration.[21]

Simmonds’ reply dated 25 February confirms that the Trustees may have made an error of judgment by expecting that the government would provide the same level of assistance as provided to the Melbourne General Cemetery: 

In answering yours of the 22nd Inst I beg to inform you that the Trustees of the Brighton Cemetery never contemplated that the Government intended to confuse the advance of money for fencing in the ground alone or they would not have undertaken the Trust they were led to expect that money would be advanced for all the purposes which the Act empowers them to do.  And to be satisfied on this head [correct] I procured An Abstract of the Money received and paid by the Trustees of the Melbourne Cemetery - After (a Copy of which I herewith enclose) seeing this they felt confident that any amount required by them would meet with the same result particularly when they considered that the Government fenced in the Melbourne Cemetery and observed that there was advanced to the Melbourne Cemetery fifteen hundred Pounds when they had seven hundred and forty four Pounds sixteen shilling & 5 pence in hand.[22]

The Abstract of Accounts for 1855 shows just how dire the financial position of the Trust was in.  Excluding the government advance of £400 and the cost of fencing the area, there was a shortfall of £135:1:10, of which wages made up 75% of the cost.  In forwarding the Abstract of Accounts, Simmonds paints a dismal picture of the state of affairs:

Cemetery Office Brighton

Febr 27th 1856

 

The Honorable [sic]

The Colonial Treasurer

 

Sir,

 

I herewith beg to send you An Abstract of the accounts of Money received and expended by the Trustees of the Brighton General Cemetery, as required to be done by the 13th clause of the Cemeteries Act passed in 1854.  In the same clause it is enacted that the Trustees send “along with such account a statement of the Condition of such Cemetery as regards repairs etc with an Estimate of the expense which may probably be incurred in effecting the same”.

 

The Trustees beg to inform the Government that the Brighton General Cemetery is in a very imperfect & unfinished state.

 

1.     Very little is done towards completing the Roads, Walks, clearing the ground for interments etc in the different Sections.

 

2.     For the want of a Culvert at the Entrance no Carriage can conveniently enter the Cemetery.

 

3.     There is no place for the Sexton to live in in [sic] consequence of which, the Gates have been forced open twice and Cattle have been turned [?] into the Cemetery grounds.

 

4.     The Clergyman has no place to put on his Gown or to sign the necessary papers or the Sexton to lodge his tools.

 

5.     The Trustees have no office to hold their meetings or for the Secretary to transact his duties in.

 

6.     They Estimate the probable cost to do these things and pay off what is owing, they would required four or five hundred Pounds.

 

When they asked the Government for the loan of fifteen hundred Pounds they contemplated Building a Trustees and Secretarys [sic] Office and to furnish the same with nothing more than was absolutely necessary, as they are now under obligations for both, having as yet paid no Rent for the same.

 

I have the honor to remain

       Sir

               Your Mt [Most] Obt [Obedient] Servant

                       John Simmonds

Secretary[23]

Then in quick succession, Simmonds received two contrasting letters.  The first letter, on 1 March was likely to have raised Simmonds’ hope by asking for further information;

...for the purpose of considering the whole subject that you will state what amount of fees in connection therewith has been received by the Trustees.[24]

The other letter received a few days later was in response to the Abstract of Accounts forwarded for 1855. 

Treasury March 1st 1856

 

Sir,

 

In reply to yours of the 27th Inst forwarding a Statement of monies received and expended by the trustees of the Brighton Cemetery during the year 1855.  I have the honor [sic] to inform you that considering the very small amount of fees received during the year it is considered the Trustees were not justified in incurring [receiving?] an outlay which they appear to have done.  And it is also remarked that the Statement now sent rather weakens than otherwise the claims of the Trustees to any further assistance from the Government.

 

I have the honor [sic] to be

   Sir

           Your Mt [Most] Obt [Obedient] Servant

                       for the Treasurer

W H Hull[25]

Having not heard a favourable reply, Simmonds met with the Treasurer on 20 March 1856 and after what was described as a long conversation, both parties compromised on a sum of £200 to pay off the amounts owed and to put in the culvert at the main entrance.  The Treasurer made a suggestion that the Trustees consider paying the Secretary’s salary, but Simmonds pointed out that he “…would rather make another sacrifice than forfeit my word, as I think would be unreasonable for anyone to expect these Gentleman would (merely for the honor [sic] of being a Trustee) pay moneys [sic] out of their own pockets”.[26]

All that was now required was to formally expedite proceedings and on 2 April, Simmonds received a letter requesting “…to specify item by item what is proposed to be done with the money”.[27]  Simmonds could only make a calculated guess on behalf of the Trustees: 

Firstly

To pay the amount due to the Secretary to the 31 Decr 1855

£80:0:0

Secondly

To pay the Rent of the Trustees and Secretarys [sic] office 15 months £2:10:0 per month

37:10:0

Thirdly

To put in a Culvert and make a Road to the Entrance Gates about

60:0:0

Fourthly

To erect a Tool house for Sexton and to pay other incidental expenses

15:0:0

and Fifthly

the Trustees Salary due to the Secretary on the 31st March 1856

50:0:0

 

 

£242:10:0[28]

It is interesting that only £75 would go directly into making improvements to the Cemetery; the rest paid directly to Simmonds. 

No reply had been received by 19 April which prompted one last final plea for the matter to be resolved due to the urgency to attend to the culvert. 

I have for some months past had a temporary Bridge made for Coaches and other vehicles [?] to pass over which has been washed away two or three times and I expect to see it gone again this morning from the rain which fell yesterday.  As I have been expecting a favourable answer to my last I have not called a meeting of the Trustees this last Quarter they having been disappointed so often in not receiving the grant they required, they feel a reluctance to attend, knowing they cannot discharge their liabilities which has been incurred in their anxiety to fulfil the duties for which they were appointed.  I must request an early answer for sake of all parties, for my own part I will sacrifice what is due to me rather than put them to any inconvenience it would be so unreasonable to require it and I cannot but think from the Remarks you have made when the Estimates were passing through the House that you were desirous that justice should be done to all parties.[29]

Shortly after, the matter was handed over to the Surveyor General’s Office and Simmonds received notification on 28 April that £200 would be advanced.  This was concluded on 14 May 1856.[30]  Two additional applications were made in August 1857 and February 1858 for a further loan of £500, but curiously without the same level of determination and came to nothing.[31] 

At the next meeting held five days later, the Trustees lost no time in concluding the outstanding items of business.  The first was to pay Simmonds £80 in wages for the year ending 1855; they also provided the Secretary with the option of £100 certain or £150 “taking the chance of getting it”.[32]  Simmonds wisely took the former and was duly paid an additional £25 for the quarter ending 31 March thus agreeing to a reduction in salary of £50 per annum.  It was also agreed that both parties would provide three months’ notice in the case of terminating his employment.  The second was to construct what was hoped to be a permanent solution to the culvert problem at the main entrance.  Simmonds was ordered to arrange for a culvert “…say 12 feet long with a Stone bottom and side Walls of a proper thickness, and covered with Gum Plank of sufficient thickness to support Carriages & other vehicles [?] say 2 inches [?]”.[33]  The stone for the culvert was likely to have been purchased from A. J. Walstab (c1811-98).[34]  However, much to the consternation of the Trustees, the culvert required on-going repair work over the years, such as additional stone in August 1859.[35]

At the following meeting, the Trustees approved the construction of a small room twelve feet square but appear to have changed their initial plans.[36]  Instead of a tool shed for the Sexton, they erected a “small wooden building” that appears to have been used mainly to conduct business, but not as an office proper.  Tenders were sent to five local Brighton builders[37] on 8 July of which specifications could be viewed at Simmonds’ office until 13 July.[38]  Three tenders were received and on 17 July, Robert Hayball won the contract for £40 being well above the original £15 estimate provided to the Treasury Office.[39]  Completed in August, this building was likely to have been located near the main entrance and was still standing in January 1879.[40]  It was likely to have been demolished at the time of the construction of ‘The Lodge’ residence in 1892.

For the rest of 1850s, the Trustees could undertake no more than what was absolutely necessary, hoping each year that the financial position would improve.  They simply accepted the situation, and left matters to fate.  Increasing the fees and charges was not discussed, nor reducing the salary of the Secretary or the Sexton.  In fact, on 14 February 1859 the Sexton received an increase of 1s for each private grave dug having personally requested 3s.  In some cases, the Trustees assisted by offering to arrange for work to be undertaken at no cost.  Both McMillan in July 1857, and Stone a year later were given approval to cut grass for their own use saving the Trust additional expense.

Some minor essential work was carried out where funds were available.  Clearing the land was an ongoing expense and this was done largely by employing outside labour in November 1856 (one man at 8s per day), August 1859 (£10), and June 1860 (2 men at 6s each per day).  In addition, efforts were made to plant shrubs and flower beds near the entrance gates in 1859;[41] also the purchase of some 50 fence palings in July 1860 to replace those that were broken.[42] 

For all these efforts, for all the best endeavours of the Trustees in difficult circumstances, the state of the cemetery was far from an appealing place to be buried.  In providing the Colonial Office with a statement on the condition of the cemetery each year, Simmonds paints a dismal picture.  For the report of 1857, Simmonds noted;

…I cannot make a different statement at this time to that which I sent last year.  As we are still unable to put up a Lodge for the Sexton to live in or to employ him constantly The Trustees have no Office or boardroom The Cemetery is in a disgraceful Condition The Roads & Walks are overgrown with weeds etc not one ornamental shrub planted yet.[43]

Virtually the same statement was submitted the following year.[44]  Nor was there much improvement to report for 1859;

The Trustees think it very necessary that during the next year the whole of the Walks and Roads should be cleared; as those cleared last year are becoming already overgrown, and those, (which for want of funds) were left, are almost impassable.

 

The Trustees would also like to have a greater portion laid out for Ornamental Shrubs etc, but they feel that unless a further Grant be obtained from Government they will be unable (at present) to carry out the improvements which the Cemetery at this time so greatly needs, presenting as it does so neglected an appearance.[45]

The Trust had to also contend with the condition of the main thoroughfare leading to the cemetery.  Being located in such an isolated position on the border of two separate municipal boundaries made it difficult for the Trust to urge improvements to North Road.  The Caulfield Roads Board was not established until November 1857; and the Brighton Municipal Council until February 1859.  Even then, both elected bodies would have had more pressing concerns of assisting the living rather than improving the condition of a road for the dead.

                                                                                                                                               Cemetery Office

Brighton Feby 29th 1860

 

The Chairman

and members of the “Brighton Municipal Council”

 

Gentlemen,

 

I am requested by the Trustees of the “Brighton General Cemetery” to call your attention to the present unsafe condition of the Road, leading from the “Arthur Seat Road” [Nepean Highway] to the “Brighton General Cemetery”.

 

The Trustees have already expended a sum on money in the formation of the said Road, prior to this district being proclaimed a Municipality, and they therefore feel that they are justified in soliciting your aid at this time.

 

They beg also to state that they think, that if the portion referred to should come under the district taken in by the “Caulfield Road Board” the “Brighton Municipality Council” would be conferring a benefit upon the Public by communicating with them, believing that their application would receive greater attention than one issuing from the Trustees themselves.

 

I have the honor [sic] to be, Gentlemen,

       Your most obedient Servant

               John Simmonds

Secretary[46]

If the Trustees did spend money on the construction of North Road, no mention is made in the Trustee Minutes.  In all likelihood, they were grandstanding.  The only references made were to improving the road leading from North Road to the main entrance gates, and not North Road itself.  In November 1856 efforts were made to hire a horse and cart for 3 or 4 days to “take Metal from J. B. Were Esq, Quarry to cover about 200 Yards of Road from the Cemetery Gates”, but this does not appear to have proceeded due to the cost sought by Were’s agent, A. J. Walstab.[47]  If the Trustees did improve the condition of the road, it certainly wasn’t appreciated by Were who in March 1858 threatened the Trust with legal action for removing gravel from land bordering along North Road and depositing it on the road leading to the main entrance gates.[48] 

By the close of 1860, the Trust had a debit balance of £27:6:9 which included the sum of £51:18:0 not previously accounted for in 1857.  This compared favourably with £4:4:0 cash in hand at the end of 1855.[49]  However, interments were in decline after an unusual high number of 102 in 1858 and this was reflected in the receipts which dropped £43 in 1860 on the previous year. 

Not that the state of affairs appear to have affected the resolve of the Trustees over such a difficult period.  But resolve isn’t an inexhaustible resource and it would be only a matter of time before individual Trustees resigned.  John Brewer was the first to go in early 1857 with an attendance record of 52% having missed the last eight meetings.  Shortly after, John Blanche had to resign his Trust after moving to Gore Street Collingwood, albeit with a far better attendance record of 76%.  He was replaced by David Black.  Blanche’s resignation did not pass without comment from the Trustees who instructed the Secretary to convey to him “…their respect that circumstances should make it unavoidable for you to meet them again, feeling confident that no one who may be selected from the Church you represented, will perform its duties with greater Efficiency or in a manner more agreeable to those with whom you have acted from its commencement and permit me to add that no one will feel the loss of your services more than myself”.[50] 

(above) Methodist Section "D" showing the graves at right-angle (2004)

But it was the untimely death on 11 March 1860 of the resolute Secretary, John Simmonds at the age of 66 that was more deeply felt. A builder from Blandford, Dorset, England who arrived in Victoria as an unassisted immigrant in November 1852 on board the Lady Eveline with his wife Ann née Pond and large family,[51] Simmonds was the central player in ensuring the cemetery’s survival; the Trustees were more content to making decisions and leaving the burden of responsibility with Simmonds.  Not even during the difficult days of 1856 did the Trustees arrange for a unified delegation to meet with the Colonial Treasury to assist Simmonds’ efforts.  Fittingly, he lies buried near the highest point overlooking the cemetery that today is forever beholden to his legacy.  Simmonds was replaced on 19 March by his son, S. (Samuel) P. (Pond) Simmonds who was selected over Charles Stone, a Trustee, for the position.[52]  In hindsight, this was a wise decision.  Stone’s attendance record of 66% up to the end of 1860 declined through the years and his election to the Brighton Municipal Council the following year would not have helped. 

As Simmonds’ successor, Samuel must have felt burdened following in the footsteps of his father.  Young and inexperienced, it was to some extent a gamble by the Trustees in appointing him to the position but history would make the final judgement.  Samuel wasted no time in making his mark, and at the next Trustee meeting held on 28 May 1860, he laid before the Trustees a plan for a new system of defining the gravesites.[53]

Under the old system, no reference was made to the denomination.  All compartments regardless of the denomination were simply defined by a unique reference.  Church of England, Section “A” was known simply as Compartment “PG”; likewise, Church of England, Section “S” was referred to as Compartment “AB”.  Simmonds proposed redefining each compartment with reference to the denomination and a section that would only be unique within that denomination.  Thus, there would be a Section “A” laid out for Church of England, Methodist, Presbyterian, Baptist and Independent denominational areas.  The plan was accepted and by early 1861 the necessary work had been carried out which required resurveying the land and issuing fresh Deeds to all right-of-burial owners.[54] 

 

1855

1856

1857

1858

1859

1860

TOTAL

Church of England

10

37

28

52

45

35

207

Methodist

1

15

14

21

16

12

79

Presbyterian

1

6

3

9

12

10

41

Baptist

1

2

5

9

3

11

31

Roman Catholic

1

5

4

8

3

4

25

Independent

0

2

3

4

8

5

22

Other/Hebrew/Unknown

1

     

1

2

4

TOTAL

15

67

57

103

88

79

409

(Interments 1855 to 1860)

A breakdown of the interments up until the end of 1860 paints an interesting picture.  Of the 409 burials that had taken place, the Church of England denomination made up 51%, then followed by the Methodists with 19%.  Over 259 interments came from the Brighton locality, then followed by Moorabbin with 8.2% and Oakleigh with 4.2%.  Cheltenham (2.5%), Mordialloc (2.7%) and Sandringham/Pic-nic-Point (1.2%) also figured prominently.  On the other hand only thirteen interments came from the Elsternwick and Caulfield area.  While predominately servicing the Brighton Estate, the dead were coming from places as far as Moonee Ponds, Preston, Heidelberg and Cranbourne in the south-east. 

Reflecting on the first five years, there was not a lot to cheer about, and while the outlook was far from rosy, nor was it all gloom.  Two trustees had resigned, and the resourceful Secretary had been replaced by his young and inexperienced son who had yet to prove his ability.  Interments were in decline, receipts falling, and the condition of the cemetery was nothing short of a disgrace.  Nor could the Trust count on further funding from the government.  Having virtually begged for £600, they could expect no more.  But the Trustees had shown the resilience and adaptability to the annual changes in receipts to produce a marginal debit balance each year.  Their commitment given the circumstances was outstanding, having met a total of 27 times since September 1854 or once every 2.7 months which compares favourably with other periods.  The challenge for the Trust entering the 1860’s was to ensure the state of affairs did not deteriorate to the extent the Trust would be compelled to ask the government for more funding.  The 1860’s would be the decade of sustainability.

(above) Monumental Headstone to John Simmonds and family


[1] A History of Brighton (Bate) p71.

[2] BGC Burial Instruction book.  The charge of 10s levied indicates that the interment was a private grave selected by the Trustees even though the location was in the Methodist Public section.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[3] BGCTM Book "A" p34 and BGC Burial records.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[4] Brighton General Cemetery Letter Book Book “A” p212.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[5] BGCTM Book "A" p25a & 26.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[6] BGCTM Book "A" p26.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[7] BGCTM Book "A" p26a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[8] BGCTM Book "A" p27.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[9] BGCTM Book "A" p27 & 27a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[10] BGCTM Book "A" p30a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[11] PROV Pioneer Index Victoria (1836-1888).  Whitcomb married Charlotte née Nooley and had two children, John who died 1857 aged 11 months, and Mary Ann born at Moorabbin in 1859.  He died at Bellarine in 1884.

[12] BGCTM Book "A" p27a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[13] BGCTM Book "A" p28.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[14] BGCTM Book "A" p28.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[15] BGCTM Book "A" p28a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[16] BGCTM Book "A" p29.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[17] BGCTM Book "A" p29a & 30.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[18] The Melbourne Morning Herald 16 Feb 1856 p7.

[19] BGCTM Book "A" p32.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[20] ADB Vol 5 1851-1890.  Thrice Premier of Victoria in 1857, 1858-59, 1861-63.  Opposed to both the political and material privileges provided to the squatter ranks, O’Shanassy became a squatter in 1862 amassing considerable affluence by the time of his death.

[21] BGCTM Book "A" p32a & 33.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[22] BGCTM Book "A" p33, 33a & 34.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[23] BGCTM Book "A" p34a & 35.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[24] BGCTM Book "A" p35a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[25] BGCTM Book "A" p36a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[26] BGCTM Book "A" p37.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[27] BGCTM Book "A" p37a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[28] BGCTM Book "A" p38.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[29] BGCTM Book "A" p38a & 39.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[30] BGCTM Book "A" p40.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[31] BGCTM Book "A" p47a. The reply from the Public Works Department in declining the request noted that the cemetery “… has already been assisted to an unusually large extent”.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[32] BGCTM Book "A" p41.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[33] BGCTM Book "A" p41.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[34] BGCTM Book "A" p42.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[35] BGCTM Book "A" p57.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[36] BGCTM Book "A" p43.   © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[37] Messrs Hayball, Gifford, Verey, Grant and McDowell.

[38] BGCTM Book "A" p42a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[39] BGCTM Book "A" p43.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[40] BGCTM Book "A" p127.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[41] BGCTM Book "A" p59a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[42] BGCTM Book "A" p64.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[43] BGCTM Book "A" p51.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[44] BGCTM Book "A" p55a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[45] BGCTM Book "A" p59a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[46] BGCTM Book "A" p60.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[47] BGCTM Book "A" p44.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[48] BGCTM Book "A" p53a & 54.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[49] Closing balance as at 31 December: 

1855(a)

1856(b)

1857

1858

1859

1860(c)

£4:4:0

£1:15:0

£65:4:5

£7:4:8

£18:7:7

£27:6:9

(a)Cash in hand.

(b)As at 30 June.

(c)Includes debit balance of £51:18:0 omitted for 1857.

[50] BGCTM Book "A" p50a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[51] PROV Immigration to Victoria 1852-79 (fiche 98, page 005) and also listing from the SDFHS 1851 Dorset Census Index. Thirteen members of the Simmonds family are listed having arrived on the same ship, John (57 yo), Ann (45), Thomas (26), John (24), Harvey (22), Emma (21), Sarah (20), William (19), Charles (15), Samuel (12), Edward (11), Lydia (10), Lucy (5). John Simmonds married Ann née Pond on 9 May 1827 at Blandford (http://www.dorset-opc.com/BlandfordMarriage1814-1830.htm).

[52] BGCTM Book "A" p61.  A Dr V. B. W. Richmond also applied for the position.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[53] BGCTM Book "A" p62a.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

[54] BGCTM Book "A" p65.  © Brighton General Cemetery Trust.

 

© 2004.  Extracts taken from sources held by the Brighton General Cemetery Trust is copyright material.  Permission to reproduce must first be obtained from the Trustees.

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Last Updated: 01-Sep-2008 19:38.