DSCF4617 Ethel Jane Bergmeier
4 – 2- 1893
daughter of
Henry and Ann Bergmeier

‘A Dear little girl’

This grave marker is at Corinella Cemetery in South Gippsland, Victoria, Australia.

Very little is known of Ethel’s life, although Ancestry records say that she was born in May 1891, which means that she was not quite 2 when she died. She was one of 9 children born to Henry and Annie (nee Chinn) and the only one to not survive infancy.

What is interesting about Ethel’s grave marker is that it is surrounded by a wire cage. In some parts of the world, and particularly in nineteenth century England, heavy iron cages were built around graves to protect them from grave robbers. These were known as mortsafes. However, grave robbing was never a threat in country Australia, but damage to graves from grazing animals was. Wire cages and fences were often erected to stop damage to the grave from cattle and sheep. South Gippsland is still today a rural area with many cattle, although the cemeteries and properties are now all fenced.

The plaque is obviously a relatively new addition, as it’s been laser-cut from metal.

RIP Ethel


A. B. Facey

DSCF4878WK4915 Private


This grave marker is at the Kranji War Memorial in Singapore.  The cemetery houses military graves predominantly from the Second World War, although there are three from the First World War. there’s also a section of graves that were relocated from a British military cemetery.

This grave marker caught my attention because of the name – A.B. Facey. An A.B. Facey (“Bert) wrote a very famous autobiography called A Fortunate Life. I knew that this couldn’t have been Bert’s grave as he wrote the book in the 1980s but was curious to see if this was a relative.

It was his eldest son – Barney. I’ll leave it up to Bert to tell the rest of the story:

“When Singapore fell Barney was reported missing and we didn’t hear anything of him until just before the war ended – nearly four years….. I don’t know how we got through the four years that Barney was missing….We would have given anything just to find out something…. Then on May twenty-third 1945….I received word that Barney had been killed on February fifteenth 1942 during the fall of Singapore to the Japanese. He was driving a truck when it was bombed in an air attack. It received a direct hit, killing Barney and four others. He was twenty-three.”

RIP    A.B. “Barney” Facey



In the centre of suburban Singapore, overlooked by three-storey houses, is the Japanese Cemetery Park. The cemetery dates from 1891 when Tagajiro Futaki, a Japanese brothel and rubber plantation owner, established the cemetery as a final resting place for the poor and destitute Japanese prostitutes called karayuki-san.

Japan once had a long history of poor rural families who sent their daughters overseas to work as prostitutes in order for the family to survive. Karayuki-san literally translates as ‘going to China’ or ‘going overseas’. During the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries this was a not uncommon future for girls born into poor, rural families. It is quite common in areas throughout Asia to find a cemetery near to where the karayuki-san lived and worked, which is evidence of the difficult life these women must have lead. A Japanese traveler recorded in 1917 of a visit to several karayuki cemeteries that the grave markers recorded most of the ladies as having died early – aged 17 or 18.

The karayuki-san in Singapore typically received a wooden marker over their grave. The tropical humidity is not kind to wood, causing it to rot very quickly. Over time many of the wooden grave markers have been replaced with stone, which copes much better with the humid conditions. Much of this work was done by the Kyosaiki, or the Mutual Self-Help Society, which was a charitable organisation run by ex-karayuki-san.

I’m unable to read Japanese so I can’t translate the grave marker inscriptions but most don’t record the birth name of the girl interred under it. Rather it records the Japanese Buddhist name they were accorded at their death.

In a country that routinely exhumes graves and re-purposes cemeteries it’s heart-warming to see that women who were forgotten in life are allowed to rest in peace in death.



Sacred to the memory
who died Sept. 14th
aged 51 years


also of
who died the 30th of June 1859
aged 9 years


and of
who died the 28th of August 1854
aged 2 years


who died 18th June 1885
aged 86 years


who died 18th Sept 1902
aged 60 years


The grave of Sarah (nee Pepperill) and Jeremiah Diplock and three of their children is in the Wollombi Cemetery in New South Wales. There are several other graves belonging to other Diplock’s, which possibly indicates that this was a family plot. It’s the first grave that I have intentionally set out to find as Sarah and Jeremiah are my paternal great-great-great grandparents. Despite spending most of my childhood in the neighbouring town I never knew that my ancestors were early settlers of the area, probably because cemeteries and family history aren’t all that important when your young. I admit that when I located the grave I choked up with emotion and I may have introduced myself to them………..

Jeremiah Diplock was born in 1798 is Sussex, England and came to Australia onboard the Coromandel in 1819 as punishment for being found guilty of burgling the house of Richard Verral. On arrival in New South Wales Jeremiah was sent to work at Windsor and the convict indents show that in 1825 he was working with the clearing party of William Hovell at Minto. After serving his 7 year term Jeremiah had his Ticket of Freedom granted in 1826. The 1828 census records that Jeremiah was then working on the property of Alexander Livingstone, which was on the banks of the Paterson River.

Sarah Pepperill was born around 1809 is Essex, England and by 1830 she was working for William Mantle as a servant at the Catherine Wheel public house at New Brentford. She was charged in April that year of stealing 9 sovereigns from her employer, but stated that she happened upon a purse containing money on the steps of a nearby house. Whilst a constable William Durban testified that a Mr Powell did indeed lose a purse containing a sum of money around the time the judge found Sarah guilty of theft and sentenced her to 7 years transportation.

Sarah sailed to New South Wales onboard the Earl of Liverpool and arrived in Sydney on April 17, 1831. Sarah spent 11 days in Sydney Gaol before she boarded the Caledonia, which would take her via a night’s stay in Newcastle Gaol, up river and into the service of Alexander Livingstone where she met Jeremiah.

Within five months Sarah and Jeremiah had lodged an application to marry, which was granted and the couple married in Maitland on October 24, 1831. Marriage for a female convict effectively transferred their ‘ownership’ from their employer to their husband, so quick marriage was an attractive option for female convicts. Additionally, the government was keen to populate the colony and encouraged marriage between convicts.

About the time of their marriage Jeremiah began a new career as a cattle rustler.  A letter dated 15th February 1843 written by the Police Magistrate refers to Jeremiah as being ‘The Captain of the Blue Company…(a) notorious gang that so long infested the Williams and Paterson (Rivers)’. The gang would steal cattle from the upper Hunter and Wollombi areas and conceal them around Dora Creek.

In 1843 Jeremiah applied for a land grant but this was turned down as a result of his cattle rustling. He continued to apply for land grants and was finally granted 100 acres near Wollombi in 1853 and from this point Jeremiah seems to have left his criminal past behind hin in favour of respectable land ownership.

Jeremiah and Sarah had 7 daughters and 2 sons. After Sarah’s death Jeremiah was taken care of by his daughter Charlotte, who is the final burial in this grave.

RIP Diplock family.

Same Sex Grave

1025957_10152923745131552_7106389068356719703_oKarl Lubcke
Oct. 1980.

Gerry Cummins
Oct. 1978

Together with everlasting friendship, love & trust.
Deep waters,
Cannot quench
Nor floods,
Sweep it


The clasped hands initially drew me to this grave marker in the Cowes Cemetery on Phillip Island. The clasped hands were a popular symbol on Victorian-era grave markers and symbolised reunion of a couple in heaven. I had never seen a modern grave marker with the clasped hands symbolism and when I walked closer I realised that the two hands were both male. In Victorian times there was always one male hand and one female hand, which was finer and had a lacy shirt cuff, so this is certainly a real twist on Victorian era symbolism!

What also surprised me was that the grave is in country Victoria, Australia, and that it was erected in the early 1980s, which is not a place nor a time I would typically have thought of as particularly liberal minded. However, I’m thrilled that my preconceptions on country Australia’s attitude toward same sex relationships in this era have been proved wrong.

I’ve not been able to find a great deal about Karl and Gerry beyond electoral roll records, which record them as residing at separate addresses, but their joint grave is testament to the bond they must have shared.

RIP Karl and Gerry

Self-made Man

Choa Chu (11)

To the
honoured and revered memory of
Born in China 1843
Died in Siam 12th March 1911
Leaving the following children and
grandchildren to mourn him

Gek-Seng Meng-Seng Kwang-Seng
Gek-Luan Kim-Luan Siew-Luan

Choon-Mong Hoa-Mong Song-Mong
Soo-Noi  Soo-Mui  Soo-Choo



The grave of Jacobe Low Kiok Chiang is in the Cho Chu Kang cemetery in Singapore. It captured my interest for a number of reasons. Firstly, the slab is very tall and the likeness of Jacobe* at the top is seen rarely upon grave markers. Secondly, Singapore is a tiny country that is short on space so graves have a life-span of ten years. The grave is only one of three that remain in this section of the cemetery, as the rest have had their remains exhumed. Thirdly, the grave marker was imported from Genova, Italy, which must have cost a considerable amount of money. The impressive monument and the fact it was still standing after 104 years signaled that Jacobe must have been someone of great importance.

The obituary to Jacobe published in The Straits Times on March 22, 1911 relates that he was sent to Singapore, from China, with his brother to escape poverty and create a better life for himself. He travelled to Singapore by junk and by his ‘innate shrewdness’ he became a very successful businessman who established import/export businesses in Singapore, Bangkok and Penang.

When he was aged about twenty, Jacobe converted to Roman Catholicism and contributed significant amounts of money toward various church projects throughout Singapore, Malaya and Thailand. The largest of these was the building of the Bangkok Roman Catholic Assumption Cathedral. His faith can be seen on his grave marker by the inclusion of the large image of Jesus on the cross.

Jacobe died in Bangkok in 1911 aged 69 and The Straits Times reports that he ‘remained cheerful to the end’.

RIP Jacobe

*I have chosen to refer to Mr Low as ‘Jacobe’ as this is the given name on his grave marker.

Crowded Grave


In Loving Memory of

Mary Strickland
Died 3rd May 1860. Aged 77 years.


Mary Ann Thomas
Died 3rd Aug: 1876. Aged 88 years.

Henry Robert Strickland
Arrived in the ship ‘Hoogly’ Feby. 12th 1830
Died July 9th 1907, Aged 86 years

Mary Ann Strickland
Arrived in the ship Parmelia June 1st 1829,
Died Jany. 4th 1908 Aged 88 years

Ellen Strickland
Died 5th April 1856, Aged 15 months.

Two Infant Sons of H.R. Strickland
Died 3rd Jany. 1873 & 7th Feby 1874.

Clara Strickland
Died 22nd April 1875, Aged 28 years.

David Strickland
Died 2nd May 1878, aged 25 years.

George Samuel Strickland
Died 5th Dec. 1883, aged 7 months.

Hubert Cecil Strickland
Died 1st April 1884. Aged 4 years.

Thomas Campbell Carey
Died 4th Sept. 1884. Aged 51 years.

W.H. John Strickland
Died 24th June 1887. Aged 7 days.

Emma Constance Strickland
Died 16th Oct. 1892. Aged 29 years.

Lancelot Strickland Wilson
Died 18th Nov. 1892. Aged 37 days.

Dorothy Baston
Died 3rd Oct. 1896. Aged 19 months.

Talbot Gordon Wilson
Died 8th Dec. 1896. Aged 5 years.

Ernest H.R. Strickland
Died 20th Sep: 1902. Aged 32 years.

Alvyna Strickland
Died 30th Nov: 1904. Aged 42 years.

Gladys May Strickland
Died 13th March 1905. Aged 2 years.

Barbara Manning
Died 29th April 1905. Aged 52 years.

Ursula May Strickland
Died 16th Aug. 1905. Aged 26 years.

Frederick C. Strickland
Died 22nd Dec: 1905. Aged 4 1/2 months.

William Edward Strickland
Died April 6th 1906. Aged 34 years.

Martha Eliza Strickland
Died May 10th 1907. Aged 65 years.


This grave was memorable, obviously, because of the long list of people interred within it. Twenty-five names are listed, although some internet sources report that there are actually a couple more who never had their names included on the monument. I have no idea how so many people can be buried in what, from memory, was a double plot but it is possible that the original Strickland family grave extended beyond the area covered by the grave marker.

The last two people buried here are Henry Robert and Mary Ann Strickland, who traveled to Western Australia as children in the early days of the colony with their respective parents and siblings to become indentured servants as part of the Swan River settlement project of Thomas Peel. All but one of the names are related to Henry and Mary Strickland.

I haven’t tried to unravel much of their story beyond what is listed on the grave marker. However, what the grave marker does show is just how hard life was in colonial Australia. Henry and Mary were the last burials in the plot but they were pre-deceased by their mothers, seven of their children, nine of their grandchildren and three daughters-in-law. Pre-Twentieth Century the most likely time for a person to die was before their fifth birthday and this grave marker with it’s startling number of young deaths is testament to that statistic.

RIP Strickland family