Harold Mytum 2016

University of Liverpool, UK

Parramatta St John’s Cemetery: A Colonial response to burial management?

Detailed study of the St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta, New South Wales, reveals the rapid development of a regulated system of interment in a defined burial ground physically separated from the church. This is in sharp contrast to the first burial grounds in Sydney, now built over, which continued the British tradition of interment around Anglican places of worship and a pattern of overcrowding. Sydney was founded in early 1788, with Parramatta following by the end of that year as a farming centre. It rapidly developed into a planned convict settlement. This paper outlines the development of St John’s Cemetery over time, from the first memorial in 1791. A number of British and Irish traditions can be identified in monument forms, but the layout and pattern of use reflects the way in which Parramatta was planned in many ways from the start, unlike the more organic original centre of Sydney. It can be argued that the experiment in hygienic and ordered burial at Parramatta provided a colonial template before such a pattern became established in Britain.


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