26 February 2024

Friends investigate two babies who went to early graves

| John Thistleton
Join the conversation
Friends of Goulburn’s Historic Cemeteries volunteers Linda Cooper and Daphne Penalver

Friends of Goulburn’s Historic Cemeteries volunteers Linda Cooper and Daphne Penalver at the grave of Rose Amy Hammond, who was buried without a surname. Photo: John Thistleton.

Buried in the Mortis Street Cemetery at North Goulburn more than 130 years ago when she was only five weeks old, Rose Amy has long remained a mystery.

Her tiny grave came to the attention of Friends of Goulburn’s Historic Cemeteries (FGHC) volunteers Daphne Penalver, Linda Cooper and David Stephenson because of her missing surname.

“She’s like an abandoned child in a way,” Daphne said. “Apart from the big monuments, not many headstones will catch your eye. But this one does. It has so little written on it, but it is so clear.”

In 2013 researchers from Canberra found Rose Amy’s surname. She was a daughter of Alfred de Lisle Hammond and his wife Mary. The cause of her death on 9 October 1889 is unknown.

While Rose Amy’s details were almost lost, her father’s meticulous weather records from about 1895 to 1910 are prolific in newspapers from that period. He recorded information for the Commonwealth Meteorologist from ‘Samares’, Yarra’s weather station south of Goulburn.

In several publications he is given the title Dr Hammond, which suggests he may have had a scientific qualification. His brief obituary reveals he lived for many years at ‘Samares’ before moving to Neutral Bay. A scholarly man with a keen interest in scientific and literary projects, he also prepared pupils for examinations.

Daphne found records indicating the Hammonds had many children and Rose Amy was among the youngest of them. “I eventually found his wife died in January 1944, aged 88. On her death notice only a few of her children were mentioned,” she said.

Brief as it may be, the information is another jigsaw piece to the bigger picture of early Goulburn, held within the graves of the 1839 Mortis Street Cemetery which is tucked away in industrial North Goulburn.

READ ALSO Tallong man forges a new career from an age-old craft

Babies’ graves are everywhere. Cemetery volunteers have come across numerous families with large numbers of children. “Some families had one child after the other, after the other and sometimes they died very young,” Daphne said. “Sometimes they got to about age 10 and died. You don’t know whether they died of malnutrition, or an accident.

“The women must have physically been worn out. When I think of Mrs Hammond and the number of children she had, she lived to 88. That is just extraordinary.”

Scouring registries, the National Library of Australia’s Trove and ancestory.com to flesh out more information, the FGHC is aiming to eventually record details for everyone in Goulburn’s historic cemeteries.

Another baby’s grave also came to Daphne’s attention, thanks to a family link four generations ago.

Marian Alice Watsford, the daughter of a Wesleyan Minister and his wife, died when she was aged one.

Marian Alice Watsford, the daughter of a Wesleyan minister and his wife, died when she was aged one. Photo: John Thistleton.

Marian Alice Watsford died on 1 May 1858. She was one of the twin daughters of Wesleyan minister the Reverend John Watsford and his wife, Elizabeth. After marrying in 1844, the couple left for Fiji to take up an appointment to the Wesleyan Mission, the first of two such appointments that required John to learn the language.

The family returned to Sydney from where he was appointed to circuits in Surrey Hills, Goulburn and Maitland. It was during their two-year tenure in Goulburn the couple lost Marian Alice. She was one year and one month old.

READ ALSO Goulburn Airport owner wants to cash in properties and retire

In all, the Watsfords had seven sons and seven daughters, and the minister’s rise never faulted it seems as he continued to travel and became general secretary of the newly formed Wesleyan Home Mission.

Daphne’s great-great-grandfather, the Reverend David Hazlewood was a missionary in Fiji at the same time as the Reverend Watsford was there. The Watsfords returned home after Elizabeth became ill, while Daphne says several of her great-great-grandfather’s children and his first wife died in Fiji.

She found a thesis years ago called ‘Missionary Wives’ that noted Fijians did not suffer the losses of so many babies and mothers as did the Europeans. Fijian mothers were given a rest after delivering a baby, and other women were assigned to new fathers for two years. Consequently, babies thrived.

The Mayo family grave

In contrast to graves with little information, the Mayo family grave is comprehensive and extraordinarily tragic; four of the family’s infants died aged only 10 months, three months, two months and seven months. Another was tragically killed at age 20. Photo John Thistleton.

Also taking a toll on missionary Europeans was their long clothes to show they were living up to their standards. This meant they were not dressing for the heat of the tropics, and apparently some paid with their lives.

In death people leave with so many lessons for those who follow them, and the search for that information often begins with a mysterious headstone.

Friends of Goulburn’s Historic Cemeteries will be at the Goulburn Show on 2 and 3 March with information, and will hold two open days between 10 am and 2 pm at St Saviour’s Cemetery on 9 March and Mortis Street Cemetery on 10 March.

Original Article published by John Thistleton on About Regional.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.