MacFarlane’s History of North East Tasmania, published in 2007 by the North Eastern Advertiser.

A cemetery for Upper Piper’s River (Lilydale)

From an old minute book in possession of Lilydale Municipal Council we are able to extract some particulars concerning the first cemetery in the Upper Piper area.

On October 18th, 1877, a public meeting was held in the schoolroom at Upper Piper ‘for the purpose of taking into consideration the advisability of having a Burial Ground for the benefit of the inhabitants of Upper Piper’s River, and if possible to ascertain the best means by which to secure it”.

Mr. W. Wilson was in the chair, and suggested that if someone would be willing to sell or give an acre of land for the purpose it would be preferable to asking the Government for it.

He further suggested as the residents contemplated erecting a chapel it would be advisable to have the burial ground adjoining.

Mr. Douglas Downie there-upon made an offer of an acre of his land, and was given first choice of a burial section.

A committee of five was appointed, consisting of Messrs. Wilson, Sommerville, Doak, Marx and Arnold, to go into the matter of clearing the ground, etc, and at a later meeting, presided over by Mr. Wolfe, they reported that the approximate cost of clearing, grubbing and fencing would entail an expenditure of 40 pounds.

The committee suggested making burial sections 9 feet by 3 ¼ feet, at a charge of 20/- for a single block, and 30/- for a double, and a list was opened for signatures of intending purchasers.  A further meeting in November, with Mr. Marx as chairman, decided to rescind the former figures and make a single section 9 x 13 at a charge of 30/-.  It was agreed to appoint five trustees and the work of clearing and fencing was ordered to be proceeded with.  Another decision was that lots should be drawn for choice of grave sections.

The land was transferred to the appointed trustees, Messrs. Wilson, Sommerville, Marx, Wolfe and Doak on November 17, 1877.

Coming along to July, 1878, we find record of a meeting which decided to alter sizes of sections from 9 x 13 to 12 x 16, and agreed that such sections be given only to the promoters of the project.

There is a minute that ‘on account of the death of Mr. Grandfield’s child, the committee consider it their duty to measure out a section for him, and that the said section be taken on the west corner of the burial ground”.  This would seem to have been the first internment in the cemetery.

Later meetings fixed the charge for digging a grave 7 feet deep at 10/- and appointed Mr. Casper Oestreich grave-digger.

Sections for graves were to be sold after July 23rd at five shilling per running foot, instead of at the former figure.  There is a list of 29 names of people with the numbers of the blocks drawn by them.  Mr. Grandfield’s being No. 1.

There appears to been a little dissension concerning the size of grave sections, for on August 19th, 1878, there was a meeting of holders of ground for the purpose of dealing with a petition for alteration which had been sent in to the committee.

The chairman pointed out disadvantages arising if the suggested alterations were made, and the petition was withdrawn by mutual consent.

Another petition was handed in asking for the sections to be made 20 x 20, to which the committee consented, but this was abandoned owing to the determination of some of the holders to retain their allotted number and section undisturbed.  The original plan was again adopted.


After the above meeting the committee met and made a decision that they would not in future entertain any petition or proposal whatever having as its object the alteration of sections.

It had been the custom to elect members to the committee to replace those retiring in rotation, but in 1881 a meeting came to the decision that they would not go to the trouble of elections in future as the present trustees were in office during life according to agreement.

In 1883 plans of the cemetery were prepared.  In the same year Mr. Marx resigned his position as chairman of the committee and Mr. Wolfe was elected in his place.  Numbered pegs (iron if they could be obtained) were ordered for marking grave sections. Mr. John Doak died some time in 1884, and at a meeting of section holders called for the purpose, Mr. James Doak was elected to replace him as one of the trustees.

In July 1885 a meeting of the Trust was held to discuss the position concerning a piece of land that had been taken by the Government for the new railway just then being put through from Launceston to Scottsdale.

The members asked that the Government give back as much land as had been cut off the burial ground, viz, ‘one quarter and twenty four perches, cleared, fenced and put in the same condition as it was before and on the south side’.

Meetings in 1888 dealt with the matter of an error made by a Government official in the title to the land. In the year following a new cemetery plan was prepared, and Mr. Wolfe was authorised to receive a shilling in the pound for collecting grave fees.

By 1890 the finances of the Trust were sufficiently stable to enable them to make a loan of 16 pounds to the Union Church committee at the rate of five per cent for annum, with the option of paying it off as much as they could in yearly instalments, the interest to be reduced as capital was lessened.

The cemetery was no beginning to show signs of requiring attention in so far as cleaning up was concerned, and in 1891, the secretary was instructed to write to section holders intimating that their block must be kept in repair and clear of all growth.  It was stated that any further assistance in that respect from the Trust must be paid for in future.  Sections already sold were ordered to be re-marked and pegged, and wooden pegs put in with numbers painted in white on a black ground.

A certain amount of clearing round boundary fences was carried out in 1891 at the cost of the Trust.

The final entries record a motion authorising 100 copies of a Schedule to be printed and sent to section holders and those who had purchased graves; and another motion for the obtaining of a register to contain all internments since January 1, 1892.


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