Until January 1871 (when it was closed) the main cemetery for the Randwick area was at St Jude's Church. After that date, residents went to Rookwood, (then called Haslems Creek), Cemetery. In December, 1871 a petition from residents requested that Council
"take necessary steps to secure a Cemetery for the residents of this neighbourhood." The petition went on to state that burials at Haslems Creek were
"entirely unsuited to the requirements of this district." This twelve month delay shows that, although residents were prepared to trial Haslems Creek, some problem, (probably either cost or travel problems), made this cemetery inconvenient.
Simeon Pearce, at the same meeting, proposed a motion (which was carried), that the Mayor, Alderman Walter Bradley, approach the Minister for Lands, requesting him to
"dedicate certain lands for a cemetery... and to arrange what settlement for the land they may deem correct." However, at the following meeting, on 20 December 1871, Pearce successfully proposed that the Council ask to purchase land in the Parish of Botany on the Long Bay Road (now Malabar Road). These two sections were in a little valley facing south with the drainage towards Maroubra Beach.
The request to the Government for the land took a year to be answered. Approval was finally given for Council to purchase the land for a cemetery on 4 December, 1872 at a cost of 45/12/6 pounds. Over one year had passed since the petition from Randwick residents was first presented to Council.
Another nineteen months were to pass before the cemetery approached the stage of being used. During that time, the Cemetery By-Laws were adopted by Council on 8 January 1873. It took the Government another three months to approve these regulations.
Simeon Pearce was appointed manager of the new cemetery by Council on 7 July 1874. Among his duties were:
- advertising the cemetery in the Sydney Morning Herald
- choosing the date of opening
- preparing burial registers
- planting of trees
For these duties he received the sum of 20 pounds per annum for the first year.
There are many famous people buried in the Cemetery, including:
- The parents of Charles Henry Streeton, famous painter of the Heidelberg school
- The Hannan family, publishers of the Randwick Coogee Weekly which later became the Eastern Suburbs Newspapers, and owners of a butchery. Their offices were located in the Star and Garter building (behind the Capt Cook statue)
- David Hugh Munro, a jockey who won the Melbourne Cup three times in 1934, 1944, 1946. More familiarly known as Darby Munro
- Sir John See, Mayor of Randwick, 1880-81 and 1886. Later went on to become a Member of the NSW parliament for the constituency of Grafton, served as Postmaster General, Colonial Treasurer and Chief Secretary and Minister of Defence
- The Veness family ran a wheelwright and blacksmith business and in 1864 Frederick Veness became the Postmaster a role in which he continued until 1878 when the first official Post Office was opened in Belmore Road
List of References
- W.B. Lynch and F.A. Larcombe, Randwick: 1859-1976, Revised Edition, 1976
- Ian Cripps, Randwick General Cemetery: Historical Monograph Number 4, Randwick & District Historical Society, Sydney, 1987
- Council Minutes - 1874