The Hamilton General Cemetery

In 1850 Henry Wade, the surveyor of Portland District, completed a plan of the township of Hamilton.

At that time it was known as the Grange. He was under instructions from Robert Hoddle, the head of the Melbourne Survey office, to set aside 8 acres (approx. 3.25 hectares) of land to be used as a Cemetery.

Wade recommended a site on Coleraine Road and this site is known as The Hamilton General Cemetery. This cemetery remained Hamilton’s only public cemetery until the opening of the Hamilton Lawn Cemetery in February 1970.

One of the first burials was that of James Costigan who died aged 38 buried on 15th March 1852.

Many notable individuals and families have since been interred in this cemetery.

A small number of burials are still carried out at this cemetery each year.

Notable Graves

The Hamilton Public Cemetery Trust, in partnership with a Federal Government Work for the Dole Scheme, has constructed a self guided walk around the cemetery.

The walk highlights some of the notable people that have been buried in the cemetery over its long history. 38 locations have been included in this walk.

You will see among others, the last resting place of Alexander McKillop, father of Saint Mary MacKillop, Jessie Dickens, daughter-in-law of novelist Charles Dickens, May Brown, a young girl of seven who waded into a dam to rescue her drowning younger brother and drowned herself and Dr Lovell Byass who was the region’s first doctor.

There are many stories to tell and at each site there is a sign giving a brief outline of the person’s history.

A complementary brochure can be collected from the Hamilton Visitor Information Centre located in Lonsdale Street or from the Hamilton History Centre in Gray Street.

Alexander McKillop 1812 – 1868

Alexander studied for the priesthood in Scotland and Rome but was never ordained. He arrived in Australia in 1838 where he married Flora McDonald, a fellow Scot, in 1840.

Their first child Mary was born on 15 January 1842 in Fitzroy. Seven more children were born between 1843 and 1857. Being an educated man he was responsible in part for their early education which included religious studies.

Whilst initially financially successful, this didn’t continue and the family became quite destitute, reliant on handouts and goodwill.

Unfortunately, the family became fractured and Alexander lived his last few years with his brother Peter, near Hamilton.

He died at the Victoria Hotel Hamilton in the presence of his wife in 1868.

The incorrect spelling of Alexander McKillop’s name as MacKillop has been confused due to his daughter Mary (now Saint Mary MacKillop) having altered her surname during her lifetime.