Historic Grave Site Damaged by Vandals

The Hawkesbury Historical Society Inc. are seeking assistance to raise funds for the restoration of this historic tombstone in the St. Matthews Church of England cemetery in Windsor. The Society is seeking to raise $5,000 towards the cost of restoration and a brass plate to provide details about the Freemans interned in the grave site.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Details about the grave: -                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Lettering:     It is unusual for a headstone to have no names on it, whereas it is the footstone at the base of the grave that usually contains only the initials. However, from its placement this appears to be a very modest headstone, possibly erected this way from a lack of funds. Alternatively, the headstone may have been previously lost and the footstone rearranged.


The Dates:   The 1820 date William Freeman died, being the first date on the stone, and Elizabeth known to have died earlier, probably indicates that Elizabeth may have been buried here in 1816 without a headstone and later included on William's marker, or she may be buried on the property if the farm was not close by.


Identification:  The grace identification was complicated. First the records of burial were studied to find burials from the dates indicated for a couple  with these initials. This resulted in a few choices. It was the location which confirmed it to be the Freemans as the other contender was buried elsewhere in the cemetery. 


The Freemans:   When Elizabeth Chaffrey arrived as a convict from Dublin in 1796 her future partner, William Freeman, aged 22 years, had already been in the Colony four years having arrived on the Royal Admiral. He was likely still a prisoner, after being sentenced for stealing three wooden casks with hoops, although there seems doubt as to whether he actually stole them.

Elizabeth and William had their first child, William jr, in 1797 and another son in 1801 when they were living in the Hawkesbury. William then received his first land grant at Parramatta and purchased more land to farm where the couple lived with their growing family. From 1801 the couple had three sons, John, James and Joseph in consecutive years and a daughter, Lucy, the following year. That meant Elizabeth was caring for William 9 years old and four children under six when George arrived in 1806. Thomas and Samuel were born in 1809 and 1811. When Elizabeth died in 1816, she was only 36 years old.

William had a trade of a cooper, was likely literate, having a subscription to the Sydney Gazette, and had been of good character in N.S.W. Both had served out their sentence and they were working hard to support themselves and their seven children in the Hawkesbury from around 1814.

The family continued together until William died at the end of the winter 1820, when George, Thomas and Samuel were placed in the Parramatta Orphan School.

Restoration of this gravestone is vital for the preservation of the history of the early settlement of the Hawkesbury Region. Your donation will assist the Hawkesbury Historical Society Inc. maintain the historical integrity of objects which portray the lives of our early settlers.

You can donate via the button "I want to help" on the first page of our web site, or donate directly into the Hawkesbury Historical Society's bank account as follows: -


                            Bank                                                  ANZ Richmond

                            BSB No.                                           012874

                            Account No.                                     227709583

                           Identification                                     Grave (your surname)

The Society will be offering to all donors the opportunity to participate in a tour of the historic St. Matthews Anglican Church and cemetery at Windsor once the gravestone has been repaired. Watch this web site or the Society's Facebook page for details.