Old Melbourne Cemetery

now The Queen Victoria Market Site

Cnr of Queen and Victoria Streets

Melbourne



It was Melbourne's first official cemetery and was established at West Melbourne on Crown Land; the first burial at the cemetery was thought to be in 1837. This old cemetery was on the site of the current Queen Victoria Market. In 1838 Bishop Broughton consecrated  the Church of England's section.

There are a number of references/articles dealing with the history of the old cemetery and burials, but two main ones are (and worth reading). Especially the Marjorie Morgan one.

* MORGAN, Marjorie; THE OLD MELBOURNE CEMETERY 1837-1922. Oakleigh, AIGS, 1982.
* Victorian Historical Journal: Vol. 65, No 1, June 1994: DEATH OF THE OLD MELBOURNE CEMETERY by Ralph Biddington: pp 3-29, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

There is also a set of microfiche records of burials prepared by Marjorie Morgan from the old records.and covers the period from February 1866 to November, 1917. No registers exist prior to 1866. Many reasons are given for this with one noting that they were lost when the ship, LONDON, taking them to England was lost when the ship sank in January 1866. Both the GSV and the AIGS have the set of  the microfiche records or burials and I am sure that the State Library of Vic's Genealogical Section and other family history groups also hold copies. This one is from the records of the PROV and I think this probably is the more acceptable one.

VPRS 9583: Alphabetical Records of Burials - Old Melbourne Cemetery.

"No burial records exist prior to 1866. A letter from the then Secretary of Trustees
of the Old Melbourne Cemetery in 1895 (Outward Letterbook p 180) apologises for
records not being available due to them having been destroyed in a fire at the
gatekeepers lodge in 1865."


Marjorie Morgan did a complete review of all the available literature and files on this cemetery and recorded her research in her 1982 book and microfiche. The book is out of print but you can read copies of it at some family history/genealogical society libraries. The microfiche copy of the book/burials is readily available.

* There is a 2 microfiche set also available:
  Fiche: 1. The Old Melbourne Cemetery: Alphabetical Burial Register 1866-1917.
  Fiche: 2. The Old Melbourne Cemetery: Plans 1873 (7 pages)

The Public Record Office of Victoria has and excellent set of records on the cemetery at their North Melbourne Reading Centre:

* VPRS 9582 Plan of Old Melbourne Cemetery.
* VPRS 9583 Alphabetical Records of Burials - Old Melbourne Cemetery
* VPRS 9585 Chronological Record of Permissions to Bury - Old Melbourne Cemetery
* VPRS 9588 Notes on Exhumations - Old Melbourne Cemetery
* VPRS 9591 Record of Significant Graves - Old Melbourne Cemetery

NOTE: Marjorie Morgan went through these files (and you can if you wish at North Melbourne) to prepare her excellent 1982 book and list of burials.

The Dept of Human Services: Cemeteries and Crematorium Section has two files on this cemetery, both deal mainly with the correspendence side, and they in two files for sets of years: 1857 to 1909, and 1910 to 1936 [H-CEM 334]

A large number of bodies in the old Melbourne Cemetery were reinterred, but many were not. Some of the early headstones from the Old Melbourne Cemetery can be found in a pioneers section at Fawkner Cemetery. Also in VPRS there is data noting that George Simms of the Melbourne City Council had the responsibility for the exhumations and he identified 525 marked graves. Only marked graves were exhumed and the work started in 1920. As part of the exhumation process 70 significant memorials were identified and relocated at Fawkner Park Old Pioneers Section, Fawkner Cemetery.


Many of the graves were unmarked and others had red-gum markers that over time just decayed. In the early 1920s approximately 900 graves with monuments were reinterred at Fawkner, Kew, St Kilda, Melbourne General and Cheltenham cemeteries. The final burial at the cemetery took place in 1917 with the cemetery being finally closed in 1922. It is thought there were about 10,000 burials in the cemetery, so the figure of approximately 9000 people still being buried there reflects this. ie those being reinterred.

I have read all the material I have noted. For anyone interested in this cemetery I would recommend the microfiche copy of Marjorie Morgan's book. It is an excellent reference. It is a pity the early list of burials is no longer available as they would be earlier records than the death certificates at the Victorian Registry from mid 1853 and give a fuller list of those who were laid to rest in this cemetery. The only other records that could be of value would be the early parish registers for the Melbourne churches in operation from the 1830s.

The State Library I believe also holds some records for the cemetery.

 

Information by

These pages were produced by P.Applebee©2006