Old Sydney Burial Ground

Photo added by Chris PIGOTT

Old Sydney Burial Ground

Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Add to Map
Memorials 2,212 added (1% photographed)

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Dating back to the 1790s, the site is commonly called the Old Sydney Burial Ground. It is also known as the George Street Burial Ground, the Cathedral Close Cemetery and, retrospectively, the Town Hall Cemetery. Sydney Town Hall now sits on the site of what was once the principal cemetery of NSW. The site, on the outskirts of town, was chosen by Governor Phillip and the Reverend Richard Johnson in September 1792. In 1812, Governor Macquarie authorised the extension of the burial ground to the north and west, and granted a site for a new church, St Andrew’s, next door. With the extension, the burial ground covered just over 2 acres.

The old burial ground was used for 27 years, yet its management was ad hoc. It was not formally gazetted as a burial ground, no trustees were appointed while the cemetery was active and it was apparently not consecrated.
The Church of England clergy officiated at funerals, but according to the Reverend William Cowper, "the dead of all communions were interred indiscriminately" and no formal cemetery register or plan of the burials was kept.

In 1869 the Cemetery property was transferred to the City of Sydney to be the location of the Central Railway Station and all burials were to be resumed. Little is known about the actual exhumation process, although evidence suggests it began in April 1869 and was completed by September the same year. Being there were no plans or registers of the cemetery and few headstones remained, there is little evidence of the final disposition of the original burials. The remains that could be found were moved to the Church of England cemetery's new Necropolis at Haslem’s Creek – now known as the Rookwood Necropolis. Only 1 legible headstone remained standing, commemorating Captain Hamilton, and this was removed by relatives to Rookwood Necropolis as well.


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  • Added: 27 Sep 2008
  • Find A Grave Cemetery: #2277569