On the other side of Druitt street, where the Town Hall now stands, was one of the early Sydney
cemeteries. The first was in George street North, in the vicinity of an eye-sore to the city; during the day
boys played between the tombstones and at night it was the haunt of bad characters. There yet probably remain a
number of coffins in the Town Hall grounds, while others may have the Globe street; the second was near the corner
of Clarence and Margaret streets; and the third was on the Town Hall site, and was in use as early as 1793, and
closed as a cemetery in1820.
For some 50 years it remained as wood blocks of George street as their covering. One, I know, is under the
footpath just on the south side of the southern gateway entrance to the Town Hall.
In 1904, when the electric light cables were being laid along this footpath, a corner of the coffin was
disclosed. It was not disturbed, but a bottle containing an inscription and newspaper of the day was placed
inside, and the coffin cemented over. Little did the relatives of that man dream when they lowered the body
into its grave that it would have one day for its tombstone a magnificent building, that over it would pass daily
the tread of a thousand feet, and that within a foot of its resting place would pass a mysterious current with
powers so incredible that it would transcend their wildest dreams.
When the City Council was looking for a site for a Town Hall in 1843 it asked the Government to vest in it the
old burial ground for this purpose. The Governor agreed, and introduced a bill in 1845, but a
select committee reported against the proposal, and the measure was dropped. I do not know if the letter of an
irate objector to the proposal which appeared in one of the papers in September, 1845, had anything to do with the
rejection of the proposal. So that you may judge I quote the first
"Gracious Heavens! Is it possible that, in the nineteenth century, when the universal diffusion of human
intelligence and knowledge is declared to be the Ultima Thule of sublunary blessedness, in the promotion of which
her most Christian Majesty Queen Victoria, of all the lords, temporal and spiritual, of her Imperial Parliament
profess to combine, that her Majesty's representative in Botany Bay should be so abandoned to all sense of decency,
allegiance, and duty to her most gracious Majesty, and her most loved subjects in this remote territory, as to
propose a project so monstrous, so inhuman and unchristian as the sacrilegious spoliation of the sacred
repositories of the silent dead."'
When the members of the Legislative Council came to the surface again after reading this, they also probably
ejaculated "Gracious Heavens!" The Council was more successful in a later application, and on March 3, 1869, an Act
was passed vesting the site in the Council.