‘Special Educational Uses’: Archdeacon Günther on St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta

Sir, I have read with much interest the information given recently in your columns about this burial-ground. There is, no doubt, much that might be added about the history, the varied associations, and the persons whose mortal remains were placed there. Some of the men and women were of note in their day, and others of humbler rank no less dear to those who survive. The first burial registered at what was called Rose Hill, Port Jackson, was in January, 1790. But what I want to draw attention to now is the fact that we have an endowment fund, raised a few years ago, to keep the walls in repair and the walks always in order. The fact is unique, I believe, in Australia, and may encourage others to do something for the sadly-neglected burial grounds in our land. “Bonwick” declares that he saw pigs rooting up the earth and graves in 1866 in the burial-ground on which the Town Hall, Sydney, now stands, and I have seen cattle in more than one churchyard at no great distance from Sydney. A well-kept ground has special educational uses.

I am, etc.,
St. John’s

W. J. Günther, “St. John’s Cemetery, Parramatta,” Sydney Morning Herald (NSW: 1842 – 1954), Saturday 16 July 1910, p. 4.

When Archdeacon Günther acknowledged that there were traditionally ‘noteworthy’ people buried in historic St. John’s then went on to refer to those lesser-known ones who were ‘no less dear to those who survive,’ he may well have been thinking of a child buried there: his own daughter, Edith Gwendolen. The child had been born the same year the Günthers vacated the old St. John’s Parsonage, Parramatta, and took up residence in the new parsonage. But Edith Gwendolen would not live to see her third birthday, dying at Parramatta on 17 May 1880 when she was just two years and nine months old. When her parents and one of her brothers passed away in the next century, they were laid to rest beside her in the old cemetery.