Over 233,000 burial records from Rookwood Cemetery, Sydney, Australia have been made available online.
Family history website www.findmypast.co.uk has published online for the first time burial records from Rookwood Cemetery, working in partnership with the Society of Australian Genealogists. Between 1981 and 1992 members of the Society of Australian Genealogists transcribed inscriptions from headstones in Rookwood Cemetery – the final resting place for over 600,000 Australians, located in Sydney’s west.
The transcriptions that resulted from that mammoth 11 year project, containing 233,160 names, have now gone online for the first time at findmypast.co.uk, so that anyone around the world can search for their Australian ancestors from the comfort of their own home. It is possible to search the records by surname, forename, inscription or year of death, and each entry shows the complete transcription and grave location.
The oldest graves in Rookwood Cemetery date back to 1867, and today it is one of the largest cemeteries in the whole of the Southern Hemisphere. It is therefore likely that many Australians would have a relative whose resting place is within Rookwood’s gates and will be able to find their record in the new online database. The online records cover dates of death over the period 1798 to 1999.
Heather Garnsey, Executive Officer of the Society of Australian Genealogists, says: “The Society was delighted to work with findmypast to bring its Rookwood Cemetery Transcriptions to a new audience online. SAG volunteers transcribed Rookwood – the largest cemetery in the southern hemisphere – as its contribution to the Australian Bicentenary in 1988 and the transcripts were previously only available on microfiche and CD, both long out-of-print.
“Since it was opened in 1867, Rookwood has remained Sydney’s most important cemetery with more than a million burials believed to have taken place there. Headstones provide vital clues for genealogists, often revealing far more than just name, age and date of death. Place of origin, religion, occupation and family relationships can all be revealed through headstone inscriptions. We’d expect many new research leads to be discovered through the availability of this material online.”
Among the famous people that appear in the new online burial records are:
- John T. Lang (1976-1975) – Labour Premier of N.S.W. during the Depression, who introduced Child Endowment, Widows Pension and Workers Compensation Act, and also restored the 44 hour week. He opened Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.
- Peter Dodds McCormick (c.1833-1916) composed Advance Australia Fair, the Australian National Anthem.
- Mei Quong Tart – Popular leading 19th century Sydney merchant-Philanthropist-with a network of tea rooms including “Elite Hall” in the Queen Victoria Building in Sydney.
- Jacob Pitman – Brother of Sir Isaac Pitman, who introduced phonetic shorthand to Australia.
- Louisa Lawson – Pioneer of women’s suffrage in Australia and Henry Lawson’s mother.
- Bee Miles – Notorious in 1950’s and 1960’s for her eccentric behaviour in Sydney trams and taxis, well educated, a free spirit. She recited Shakespeare from the steps of the State Library. She was cremated and her ashes scattered. This is her family’s grave site.
- David Jones – The founder of the famous Sydney Stores.
- John Fairfax – Founder of The Sydney Morning Herald.
The new records can be found within the Parish Record Collection at http://www.findmypast.co.uk and are part of a much larger ongoing project with the Federation of Family History Societies to put millions of parish records online. These records are also available through findmypast.com.au, the Australia-based sister site of findmypast.co.uk.