HOW OLD IS ST JOHN’S?
On 23rd July 1802 St John’s was declared an Anglican parish by Governor King.
Before this, great Christian men such as John Newton and William Wilberforce determined that the new colony of NSW should not be without a witness to Jesus Christ and so through their vision and work, the Reverend Richard Johnson was sent to the NSW Colony as Chaplain to the first fleet. As part of his duties, he travelled up the Parramatta River from Sydney on a fortnightly basis and held a service under a tree on the riverbank.
Before this, indeed before creation itself, God determined that there would be Christian men and women in Parramatta who would bear witness to Him and His Son Jesus.
Today, the cathedral complex houses a community of Christians who are proud of their history and their Anglican heritage. Today we worship in four languages; English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Farsi.
Extensive church records from 1789 are kept on-site at the cathedral under appropriate environmental conditions. The original records are held for baptisms (1789 to present), marriages (1790 -1823, and 1828 to present) and burials (1790 to present). Unfortunately the St John’s Cemetery trust and the archives hold no information regarding unmarked burials in the cemetery.
Due to the fragile nature of these registers they cannot be photocopied or photographed and are not available for public viewing. However, for a very reasonable monthly fee, the full collection of our early registers, in high definition images, can be viewed on-line at www.ancestry.com.au. If required though, on application our honorary archivist is able to provide a transcript of a particular entry.
It is important to note that information from our registers can only be provided in accord with the provisions of the Federal Government Privacy Act (1988) and the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act (1998).
St John’s Parramatta Cemetery
The cemetery is entered through a lych-gate in O’Connell Street Parramatta (opposite Aird Street). The cemetery is the oldest existing European burial ground in Australia. It is enclosed by a brick wall that dates to 1820.
From the earliest years to late Victorian times the cemetery has seen a huge variety of funerals from the poorest to the most showy and elaborate. Local and Sydney papers of the time tell us that:
” the funeral of D’Arcy Wentworth Esquire took from one o’clock until four o’clock to wend its way from Homebush to the graveside”
and that the Reverend Samuel Marsden was buried
“in his own churchyard at Parramatta and upwards of sixty carriages formed the mourning procession.”
For more information about the cemetery and self-guided tour notes download the Cemetery guide , or for details on the location of graves, contact the Friends of St John’s Cemetery via email firstname.lastname@example.org or see their website https://friendsofstjohnscemetery.wordpress.com/. The Parramatta Heritage Centre is also a wonderful resource for information on the grave-sites.