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History of Moorefields Cemetery

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researched and compiled by Joyce Ormsby and Brian Madden

The historic Moorefields Cemetery is situated behind the Uniting Church (originally Wesleylan, then Methodist) in Moorefields Road, Lakemba.  The address is 96a Moorefields Road, Kingsgrove 2208 (public access through Maramba Close).

Settlement in the area near the cemetery began in 1804, when Hannah Laycock was granted 500 acres which she called ‘King’s Grove Farm’. For the next 30 years, many smaller grants were given along the present Moorefields Road. In 1841, the members of the Wesleyan Church purchased half an acre of land in Minter Street, Canterbury, from the Australasian Sugar Company for thirty pounds ($60) and proceeded to build a chapel and school house. The 1851 census listed 120 Wesleyans out of 473 people in the Canterbury district.

In 1851, John Chard gave the Wesleyans an acre of his land on which to build the Moorfields (an earlier spelling) Wesleyan Church, which was to last from 1851 to 1967 before being replaced by the present building. James Chard, father of John, died in 1856, and is buried in the cemetery. James other son, Thomas, and Thomas’ wife Harriet, and their descendents, are also buried in the cemetery, making at least four generations of the same family buried there. James Chard had arrived in the Colony in 1818 and probably came to the district in the mid 1820’s.

The cemetery is the last resting-place of many more of the district’s pioneers. James Pithers (died 26th January, 1895), son of William, who received a land grant in the area in 1823, is buried there. Francis Beamish was a teacher at the old Moorefields Public School. Henry Homer gave his name to Homer Street. James Ridgewell (died 21th November, 1890) came to the district between 1844 and 1846.

Evan Evans (died 8th March 1896) obtained the first publican’s licence in the district in 1850 for the ‘Man of Kent’ Inn at the corner of the present Kingsgrove Road and Morris Avenue, Kingsgrove. Martha Humphrey ran the Gardener’s’ Arms'’ Inn in Hurstville, and Stephan Bown kept the Robin Hood and Little John’ Inn in Stoney Creek Road, opposite Gloucester Road. George Kemp of Mortdale, the Peakes of Peakehurst, and members of the Parkes, Smithson Gabb, Norton and Tomkins pioneer families were buried here.

Over the 125 years (1983) since the cemetery was first used, there had been 1.155 known burials. However, there could have been many more, as headstones were not erected ad a great number of headstones have been vandalised over recent years. Early records were destroyed by fire but limited records were compiled again to replace them.

November, 1983

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