Church of St John the Baptist Cemetery


Australian Capital Territory

The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc.



The Anglican Church of St John the Baptist, Canberra has served the Canberra district since the 1840s. The foundation stone for the cemetery was laid on the 11th May, 1841 by the Rev Edward Smith of Queanbeyan, the fist resident clergyman in the district. The building was consecrated by the Rev William Grant Broughton, first and only Bishop of Australia, on the 12th March, 1845. The church and graveyard are located in suburb of Reid, Canberra on the corner of Constitution Avenue and Anzac Park.

Robert Campbell was an early benefactor of the church. He established the property at Duntoon in 1825 and in 1833 built a house on it. The church was built on land made available by him. The church was extended between 1872 and 1874 and a new tower and spire were constructed between 1865 and 1878.

Around the church is the graveyard. It is noted as being Canberra's original graveyard. It's memorials (and burials) span 140 years. The cemetery was closed for new burials in July, 1937 but burials still occur for families who own Exclusive Rights to burial plots.

In the cemetery you will find the Dunrossil grave which is the grave for Viscount Dunrossil who died in 1961 during his appointment as Governor-General of Australia. His wife's ashes were buried in the grave in 1983.

Robert Campbell, who donated the land died in 1946 but he is buried at St John's Paramatta. Still there are some members of his family buried in the cemetery.

A record of the graveyard can be found in the following reference available from the church.

* SALISBURY, Jean; "Canberra. St John's Churchyard: 1844 - 1998." Canberra: The Heraldry & Genealogy Society of Canberra Inc; 2000. 298 pages.

The book is an excellent reference for people buried in the graveyard with specific details on individuals beyond the actual memorial information, provided in it.

The earliest marked grave is that for the Guise family, dating from 1845. The inscription on the flat sandstone is now almost unreadable due to wear. There is now a plaque on the grave providing the information from the early memorial.

Also buried in the graveyard is Sir Robert Garran, Solicitor- General of the Commonwealth from 1917-1932. He played an important role in the framing of the Australian Constitution. He died on the 11th January, 1957.

The church and its precincts were classified by the National Trust and entered into the Register of the National Estate in 1980. An old, extremely interesting and historical burial ground. If anyone is interested in reading further on it I would recommend Jean Salisbury's book.

David Weatherill




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These pages were produced by P.Applebee ©2007