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St Johns Churchyard (Howorth Grave) - Wilberforce
Cemetery Details
Address:  Macquarie Road
 New South Wales, Australia
Location:  Next to School House, at the back of the old St Johns church.
Denomination:  Anglican
Responsible Authority:  St Johns Anglican Church, Wilberforce
Number of Graves:  1
Names Recorded:  3
Period of Use:  1804 (plaque added 1960)

Panoramic of St Johns at Wilberforce

Register: Howorth, Catherine
Howorth, Elizabeth
Howorth, John
Map of grave:



 This headstone was relocated to this site from its original position from the banks of the Hawkesbury River on the 5 December 1960 by the Hawkesbury Historical Society.

 Church previously Church of England, now Anglican. Comes under the Wilberforce Parish.

Above: Macquarie School House at St Johns, Wilberforce.

Above: Grave of the Howorth's located at the side of the Macquarie School House.

Extract from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. Sunday, October 21, 1804:

  "The following are the particulars of the unfortunate circumstances attending the death of the child at Hawkesbury last Monday se'nnight in consequence of the bite of a snake. Two sons of Mr. John Howorth, settler, went together among some standing and fallen timber, to look after a small flock. The eldest boy, sitting near a large tree in which three apertures had been cut for the purpose of searching after the bandycoot, unhappily stretched on of his arms within the hollow, and suddenly withdrawing it much terrified, acquainted his brother that he had received a bite from a black snake. The poor little fellow, conscious of his danger, with an air of despondency remarked that he should soon die; and complaining of sudden illness, made an effort to return homeward. But his faculties yielding to irresistible lethargy and stapor, he lost his way before he had proceeded many paces, and was observed by a neighbouring settler, who enquiring what ailed him, received in a feeble tone the information of his illness, but without assigning any cause of complaint. The good man took him into his house, and lay him on his bed. The parents were made acquainted with the state the child was in, and immediately attended him; but he was then wholly insensible, and continued so during the short remaining period of his existence. About four in the afternoon the doleful accident occurred; and at about the same hour the following morning he expired, to the extreme regret of his parents, who were totally unacquainted with the cause of his death until after the event had taken place; when the other disclosed the above circumstance, and the body being examined, a wound appeared upon the left arm, thro' which the noxious viper had poured the contaminating fluid.

Extract from the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser. Sunday, February 17, 1805:

  "A stone intended to entomb the relicks of an infant some time since devoted to an untimely grave by the bite of a snake, was exhibited to public inspection last week: the sculpture of which, but for the melancholy occasion it brought to remembrance, must have provoked a smile. Of the poetical part of the performance, which reflects the highest credit to the literary talents of Mr. Cornelius Hemmings, known to his contemporaries by the name of Nobby, the following is an accurate copy.

it was the subtile surpent's bite he cride
then like A Rose bud cut he drup'd and died
in life his Fathers glorey
and his mothers pride

  From this elegant specimen it is obvious that we rapidly attain the zenith in sepulchral poŽsie; but in the work of the chissel we beg leave to use the remark of a gentlemen viewing it, who being informed it was the chef-d'śuvre of a professed flatue-ary, concived the appellative too long by the last two syllables."

Extract from page 9 of the Windsor & Richmond Gazette. Wednesday, Dec 7, 1960:

Restored Tombstone

A goodly crowd of interested men, women, and school children, gathered under a restored John Howorth tombstone unveiled at Wilberforce on December 5.

They were clustered in a semi-circle on hallowed ground between St. John's Church of England and the old schoolhouse, close to the wall of which the restored sandstone slab was unveiled by Ald. V. W. Gillespie, Mayor of Windsor Municipality.

Its touching epitaph is believed to be the earliest known inscription on a headstone in the district. It reads :

"In memory of John Howorth, who departed this life Oct. 8. 1804, aged 11 years. From a subtle surpent's bite he cride; our rosebud cut, he drup'd his head and died. he was his father's glory and his mothers pride."

It is believed Mr. George Reeve, who wrote for this paper for many years, re-cut and limed this tombstone on Mr. Hall's property some 30 years ago.

Cr. R. B. Turnbull (Colo Shire President), a descendant of one of the Hawkesbury early pioneers, was chairman for the proceedings.

In his remarks, Ald. Gillespie paid tribute to the work of Mr. D. G. Bowd, as Hawkesbury Historical Society secretary, in historic matters of the district, one of them being the restoration that day. Ald. Gillespie thanked, also, the Hall family for allowing free entrance to their property for its removal, and Mr. "Bill" McLachlan for careful transport of the ancient fragile stone.


The gathering was invited to enter St. John's Church to hear brief historical talks by Mr. Bowd and Mr. MacLeod Morgan.

These provided interesting commentary on the life of notable pioneers in the Wilberforce district, the old stone church creating harmonious mellowed atmosphere.

It was good to enjoy thoughtful reflection on bygone days and people, whose life and memory have so imbued the present.

Credits: Transcriptions and photography by Jonathan Auld and Michelle Nichols - September 2003.


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