Thursday, January 15, 2015

Grave Project, Bulletin No 15 - List of Donors

The names below (in alphabetical order of surnames) record the generous and community-minded people who donated money to the Bushell Brown Grave Project and have helped preserve some of the earliest European history of Australia. Most of the Bushells and Browns lie beneath the upper altar monument, while 12-year-old Ann Brown lies beneath the lower altar monument.

All descendants of Paul Bushell and David Brown thank each donor most sincerely.

Chris Allen
Gloria, Frank & Russell Anderson
Kerrie Basclain
Rachel Bentham
Belinda Blaxland
Hugh Borrowman
Catherine Broady
Barry Brown, NSW
Barry Brown, WA
Fiona Brown
Les Brown
Neil Brown
David & Leith Bruce-Steer
Alisa Bushell
Anthony Bushell
Gary & Margaret Bushell
Gwen Bushell
Keith & Helen Bushell
Peter Bushell
Robyn Bushell
Stephen & Glenda Bushell
Kerrie & David Carson
Marjorie Clarke & Arthur Crothers
Anne Cobcroft
Families of Darcey & Vivienne Croft
Frank Dennis
Margaret Devine
Dawn Dunn
Shirley Evans
Michael Flynn
Kathy Foord
Barbara Fromberg
Robert Fuller
Helen Gillespie-Jones
Peter Hutley
Paul Jones
Bettina Krikmann
Elaine Lally
Stephanie Lee
Berrill (Keen) Ley
Robyn Lobb
Susan Lough
Jessie Love
Sebastian, Saul & Elspeth Marley
Brian & Elizabeth Marshall
Daryl Martin
Norma McLean
Jane & David Miller
Clare Nowlan
Alanna & Mason Orr
Robert Orr
Debbie Owens
Michael P (Anonymous)
Lynette Payne
Toby Pieters & Dianne Gardiner
Jennifer Prineas
Peter Prineas
Pling Px
Jeremy Rankin
Cano Scott
Keith South
Marie Emily Steley
Nigel Stokes
Rae Szuch
Babs Taylor
Grant Taylor
Patsy Templeton
Marilyn Thrupp
Pamela Tilbrook
Linda Ellen Townsend OAM & Kenneth George Townsend
& their children George Edward Townsend, Christopher Kenneth Townsend, Leellen Katherine Van Deven & Janice Kay Nurrish
Rowena Townsend
Sally Turner
Carol Vance-Roberts
Alan Walker
Helen Welsh
Louise Wilson

Stay tuned to this site for progress reports and news of the eventual 'unveiling' of the restored graves. As advised in Bulletin No 14, the upper altar monument will have a different restoration treatment to the lower altar monument.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 14 - All Systems 'Go'

On November 19, Committee members Louise Wilson & Patsy Templeton, stonemasons Sach Killam, Grant Skinner & Matthew Johnson and Craig Johnson of the Hawkesbury City Council met at the Wilberforce Cemetery. Representatives of Heritage NSW were meant to be there also, but made their apologies.
From left: Matthew Johnson, Craig Johnson, Grant Skinner, Sach Killam
The purpose was to discuss the implications of Sach Killam's report, dated 11 November, quite a positive read. Arising from it, the main talking point concerned the lower altar monument, which does not have an underground vault and appears to be the burial site for only one person, 12 year old Ann Brown. We speculated about this and decided that between her death in 1819 and the next death (her father David in 1826), Paul Bushell had joined the family and it must have been decided that a family vault was appropriate and could be afforded.

Many important structural pieces are missing from Ann’s monument, but what remains does not fit within any known style of altar monument. This was an exciting conclusion from Sach Killam's scoping study of 2 October. Since Ann's grave seems to be unique in NSW, there are no guidelines from which we can copy. This makes Ann's grave (and the cemetery) all the more interesting from a Heritage perspective but means that her grave is not a viable candidate for proper restoration according to Heritage guidelines, until such time as we have a clear idea of its original design. (We may never know.)

Accordingly, Sach Killam suggested that we focus on fully restoring the upper altar monument, and that we simply restack the remaining pieces for the lower monument in a better configuration, and replace the top slab back in position on top of the pile. In effect, it will look like a low-rise altar monument (without sides or supporting pillars). This will place the focus of attention on the upper altar monument, where most of the family is buried.

Inspection of the Council depot later on 19 November proved that none of the missing stonework from the graves has been stored there following Council cleanups.

The meeting also pondered where the rounded segment of a child’s headstone would have fitted, and Craig Johnson afterwards located an old map of the cemetery showing an infant’s grave above and alongside the upper altar monument.

All these deliberations enabled a final quote to be prepared on 3 December, containing several options, one priced at $15,200 and the other at $17,750 (the latter relevant to both monuments).

Although our fund-raising campaign mentioned restoration of both altar monuments, the eight-member Committee today agreed unanimously that full restoration cannot be done to the lower altar monument if there is no information about its original design. Accordingly, we have agreed to spend $15,200 for the following work:
Reinstallation of Upper Altar tomb on new plinth slab & re stack lower tomb
 Supply new Wondabyne Sandstone to suit dimensions for missing pieces of upper Altar tomb
 Install existing and new sandstone as per proposal supplied for the upper Altar tomb
 Carefully stack remaining pieces of lower vault over gravesite as per proposal
The Committee having now accepted the quotation, the ball rests in the court of the stonemasons, who will confirm the proposed works with the Heritage authorities and Hawkesbury City Council. Although the holiday season is upon us, we are hoping for action to commence soon.

Needless to say, the Committee is both relieved and excited that restoration of this historic site is within our grasp, at last.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 13 - Preparatory Work Begins

Preparatory work began on the Bushell Brown gravesite at the Wilberforce Cemetery on 2 October, when stonemasons Sach Killam, Grant Skinner and Matthew Johnson gathered there to investigate the scope of works. Committee member Patsy Templeton watched the proceedings as an interested observer, and was impressed with the courtesy, care and commitment shown by all three men on this first day - the care they took around the grave-sites, the respect they showed to other graves and their careful approach to the challenging nature of moving the stones without any stress on the stones themselves.

Work began with the unloading of a hand driven mobile crane from a truck.
The crane was trundled through the cemetery and was set up very close to the two piles of stones, ready to lift the heavier slabs.
One of the four feet was set up on the Cobcroft grave sites behind the Bushell/Brown sites. There was of course no damage to this site. 
The next job was to set up runs of wooden supports, some hardwood and some softwood. Strips of artificial grass were rolled out, to avoid discolouration from soil and natural grass. The stones were carefully lifted off the piles and laid out for sorting. There was no possibility of any of the stones being scratched during the moving. 
Sach and Matthew set up the stones in matching styles and thicknesses, taking measurements all the while. It quickly became obvious which stones belonged to which grave site.
The upper grave seems to be made of sandstone, which was quite thin (as per the above picture), and the sides of the altar tomb were slabs which were inscribed with names, and fitted together with the top slab in a groove. The top slab has 2 large pieces which fit together, plus a few small bits, one of which is a little more substantial than the others. There appears to be two side pieces of the four, plus Mary Brown’s engraved piece, but no corner pieces. The outer base is in situ, and the base of the altar vault itself seems to be about 50% there. However the challenge with this altar monument lies under the ground. On further investigation, it was found that the archway entrance to the vault (shown in the upper centre of the picture below), made of brick, had been eroded, and builder’s cement poured into the vault to support the archway and stop further erosion. This will need to be discussed with Heritage.
The lower grave was made of a sort of granite, much thicker (as the pictures above and below show), and its sides were self-supporting under the top slab, with a design on them. The lower grave is in better shape. Both pieces of the top slab are there, along with a few of the side pieces and corner pieces and a solid base on which to put the new base for restoration work.
The following picture shows the current appearance of the grave site, with the stones removed from their former stacks and laid out on the runners behind the grave.
The stones will remain laid out as pictured until Sach prepares his report on his findings and recommendations, a quote is received and approved, Heritage approval is given (hopefully before Christmas), and the actual restoration work begins.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Grave Project, Bulletin No 12 - Funds Raised

We did it! September 9 was a great day, when we reached the end point of our 60-day fund-raising campaign and we'd surpassed our target of $16,000.

The funds raised ($16,750 from 69 donors) were later topped up by further donations of $100 each from 4 people, and a Committee member donated all the book rewards, thereby saving on the campaign's out of pocket expenses.

The Committee would like to thank every one of the 74 people who contributed so generously to this worthwhile venture, honouring our earliest European settlers. Donor names will be published in a separate list.


After paying the commission to Pozible and the various credit card processing fees, the net amount of $15,887.70 is now sitting in the bank account of the Hawkesbury City Council. We are very happy to announce that the sum is sufficient to meet the quoted costs for the grave restoration work.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Grave Restoration Project - Bulletin No 11

At last, the fund-raising campaign has begun. The campaign got off to a flying start with the contribution of $1,270 within the first two hours. Today, at the start of Day 2, with 59 days to go, donations have reached $1,570. Please keep them coming!


We're using 'crowd funding' via Pozible Project No 177971 to solve the problem of soliciting the public for money. This is a very innovative approach to the restoration of historic graves, an activity which generally-speaking is not eligible for government grants, even where heritage status applies. And our approach is a trail blazer, proved by its front-page listing on Pozible's Community website.

We've solved another hassle, and relieved the Committee of the burden of setting up and administering a Trust Fund, by making an arrangement with the Hawkesbury City Council to accept the donations into a specially-designated account.

Even better, since the Cemetery has Heritage listing and the Council is the management authority for the Wilberforce Cemetery, Council will act as project manager, will pay the bills out of our account and will accept public liability risk. Their welcome involvement solves many of the problems of a volunteer Committee, including the problem of what to do with any surplus funds, which will stay in the kitty for similar projects in the future.

It should be fun to visit the Pozible site regularly to check on our progress as the countdown proceeds and the funding promises grow. Make sure you watch our short video on the Pozible website - just click on the arrow in the bottom left hand corner of the header picture. Feedback on our campaign is always appreciated.

We urge you to visit our Pozible campaign site, make your donation using your credit card, and then tell your family and friends about this worthwhile campaign, encouraging their support for it. (Sorry, we are not a registered charity so donations are not tax-deductible.) If we don't reach our target, Pozible will not collect on the promised donations and the project will lapse. Completely. We're anxious not just to reach our target but to zoom past it, into the stratosphere even, as any surplus funds we collect will be put towards the next historic grave restoration project in the Hawkesbury.

Remember, you don't have to be a descendant of the Bushell and Brown families to help with a donation. As the last resting place of 34 people who came on the First, Second and Third Fleets, the significance of Wilberforce Cemetery within Australia's modern history makes this project worthy of support by anyone, living anywhere, with an interest in protecting Australia's heritage for future generations.

Monday, June 2, 2014

'Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter' at AIGS

At the annual AIGS lunch in Melbourne on Sunday 25 May, my book Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter was the 'Highly Commended' runner-up for the Don Grant Award 2013. It was a thrill, as it means that all three of my books about early convict settlers of the Hawkesbury have been recognised by independent judges. (For the record, the other two books were Robert Forrester, First Fleeter and Southwark Luck.)
The AIGS (Australian Institute of Genealogical Studies) has been based in Melbourne for many years but entries for AIGS awards are submitted from around Australia. I'd like to thank this year's judges most effusively for all their hard work in reading and scoring the entries, a time-consuming labour of love. This year the three judges were Emeritus Professor Fred Smith, whose sudden death just after completing his judging duties shocked everyone, Helen Doxford Harris, a professional genealogist, historian and author, and Gail White, a librarian and AIGS President.
The guest speaker at this year's lunch was Hon. Ted Baillieu, MLA, a former Premier of Victoria. (By the way - I'm not a 'shrimp' - he's very tall.) He presented a fascinating exposition of the work of the Victorian Anzac Centenary Committee to mark Australia's involvement in World War 1. An aim of the commemoration is to make that dreadful war 'personal' to Australians but Ted was preaching to the converted at the AIGS lunch - in a room full of family history researchers, nearly everyone present knew of a relative who'd fought in the Great War. In my own case, my grandfather Cleon Dennis was Engr Lieut on HMAS Sydney when it sank the German raider Emden in 1914. Sydney was one of the escort vessels for the first convoy of troops sailing across the Indian Ocean to the Middle East.
Back to my book. Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter has had a chequered path to 'glory'. Its journey began late in 2010, several months after its publication, when the book was entered for the Alexander Henderson Award, 2010.
But, at the awards lunch in May 2011, it was pronounced as disqualified, along with a number of other books, for not fitting the AIGS definition of an Australian 'family history'. (My book essentially told the story of one man's life, without taking the family story down through subsequent generations.)
When the AIGS introduced the Don Grant Award for a biography, the Bushell book's candidacy was moved across to that new Award. Unfortunately, the entry was inadvertently overlooked and the book was not judged with the other entries for the inaugural Don Grant Award, 2012.
Finally, the book competed for the Don Grant Award, 2013. In the intervening years, the standard of family history publishing has continued to rise. Although I pride myself on the quality of the intellectual content within my books, a book laid out in 'Word', like the Bushell book, is a poor relation to glossier productions and I counted myself lucky to be this year's 'runner-up'.
Due to my frequent absences from home, the above news is somewhat belated, but also very timely, as we are about to draw the public's attention to the fund-raising campaign to restore Paul Bushell's grave at Wilberforce Cemetery. Please watch this space - and our Facebook page.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Remembrance Day for Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter

Today we remember a large crowd of mourners who gathered at the height of summer on Sunday 6 February 1853, swatting away the flies and dabbing at their tears as they farewelled Paul Bushell at Wilberforce Cemetery, NSW.

He'd died the previous day, Saturday 5 February, at home in Argyle Reach Road, Wilberforce. This was his view from his home, overlooking his beloved Bushells Lagoon.

According to his baptism details, he'd reached the grand age of eighty-six years. Proving his vigour and stamina, his youngest child by his much younger wife Isabella was not quite eight years old, but several of his older children had married and he was a grandfather many times over.
Paul obviously knew his end was near as his final will was made only four days before his death. It was read aloud to him and he was forced to make his mark, no longer being able to read the will or sign it, through blindness. In his will Paul named his dear wife Isabella, his eldest son George and his son-in-law Edward Becroft as Executrix and Executors. Since Paul had young children, the latter two men were also named as Trustees. In his will he left bequests totalling 503 acres of land, quite an achievement for a man who was never granted any land and had to purchase every acre of it.

Paul was buried in the combined Brown/Bushell family vault which his descendants (and others) are keen to restore. (For more details, see the other posts on this blog and our dedicated Facebook page.)

The service was conducted by Reverend Ewing, who was the driving force for the Committee working to raise funds for the building of St John’s Church of England, still under construction. This was the second church which Paul helped to establish at the Hawkesbury, the other being the delightful church and school at Ebenezer. Paul had also helped establish the first school at Wilberforce, around 1807. One can imagine that Ewing paid many glowing tributes to Paul Bushell.

Having arrived on the Second Fleet in 1790, Paul’s exemplary colonial life almost completely encompassed the six decades of Australian history prior to the gold rush. Paul was a significant personality to the old timers of the colony, and his death was of general interest beyond the Hawkesbury. His many visits to Sydney over the years would have left its legacy of friends and acquaintances in the wider community. Therefore, unlike many of his fellow Second Fleet transportees, his death warranted a notice in the Sydney Morning Herald, which stated that he died at Wilberforce ‘aged 84 [sic], after a residence in the colony of 63 years, leaving a widow and 11 children to deplore his loss’.

These were his ten children by his second wife Isabella Brown, and his step-son William, who was two years old when his mother married Paul. Despite his handsome endowment to her at the time of her marriage, Paul’s adopted daughter Isabella Forrester/Lovell/Daley, now in her late forties herself and living in Sydney, was not counted among those sorrowing children.

The full details of Paul Bushell’s life are told in Louise Wilson’s book 'Paul Bushell, Second Fleeter’, published in 2010. For details,  see ....