Your Starting Point
To participate in the walk, download the Fremantle Cemetery Heritage Walk Trail map here, or collect a copy from the Fremantle Cemetery administration office near the main entrance. The walk takes around one and a half hours to complete. It is possible to start, leave or re-join the walk at any stage.
Starting at the Administration building, proceed along Watkin Avenue to Location One.
The beginnings of a port city cemetery
The earliest documents on Fremantle Cemetery’s records are two Grants given by "Victoria, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.” The first, dated 19th of October 1867, refers to "two roods and twenty perches" of land given to "Martin Griver his heirs and assigns for ever as a Cemetery for Roman Catholics.” The second Grant for "two roods and twenty perches" is dated 1870 and refers to "Fremantle Town Lot C.7 bounded by Lots C4 and C6”
His Excellency the Governor in Council formed the Trustees of the Fremantle Cemetery on 15 June 1898. The 10 members of the Board held their first meeting on 24 June 1898 in the Fremantle Town Hall. On October 28 that year, the Carrington Street site was declared a cemetery. The first burial occurred there on 2 July 1899.
On 23 January 1900, the Trustees of the Fremantle Cemetery Board were granted freehold title to the land – at the time measuring 49.6 hectares. A caretaker’s lodge, which serves as the administration office to this day, was constructed from traditional limestone in 1901.
Fremantle Cemetery was preceded by the “Old Cemetery”, the Alma Street Cemetery (now Fremantle Primary School) which served from 1831-1835, and the “New Cemetery”, the Skinner Street Cemetery (now John Curtin Senior High School Oval) which operated from 1852-1899. The earliest headstone recorded at Fremantle Cemetery is that of Mary Ann Morrell which dates back to 1832 and who was exhumed and relocated from the Alma Street Cemetery by her family in 1915.
In 1931 some 90 headstones were moved from Skinner Street and relocated to Fremantle Cemetery. All remains recovered were removed and reburied. The Fremantle Cemetery Heritage Trail’s pebbled track leads you on an easy to follow journey past many of the historic relocated headstones. Heritage Walk Trail One features selected graves in the historical section of the cemetery with signage at each point of interest.
1. Ronald Belford "Bon" Scott (1946-1980), rock musician
Garden of Remembrance N 3
Ronald Belford “Bon” Scott was the lead singer with legendary Australian rock group AC/DC from 1974 until 1980. His death after a heavy drinking bout in London left him a tragic hero. His memorial has become a cultural landmark and continues to be one of the most frequently visited sites at Fremantle Cemetery. It is listed with the National Trust of Australia as a historic site.
Bon Scott moved to Melbourne from the Scottish village of Kirriemuir. When he was six, the family moved to Fremantle. He attended John Curtin High School and began his musical education at 11 with the Fremantle Pipe Band. In the early 1970s Bon appeared on vocals and drums with Fremantle groups The Spektors and The Valentines, and with the band Fraternity in Adelaide.
In 1974 a motorcycle accident interrupted Scott’s musical career and he found casual work in the music industry working for Vince Lovegrove, his co-vocalist for The Valentines. Lovegrove introduced Scott to a small band called AC/DC who were looking for a new lead singer. Bon was able to persuade the band to take him on as their front man. His distinctive, hard-edged voice, rebellious presence on stage and song-writing skills helped to take the band to the top of the charts, gaining local and international success with iconic albums such as High Voltage, Let There Be Rock, and Highway to Hell.
Each Christmas Bon would return to visit his parents, Chick and Isa Scott, at Spearwood to recuperate. The last time – in 1979 – it was apparent his health was suffering. When Bon died in 1980, the funeral at Fremantle Cemetery for one of the city’s favourite adopted sons was conducted in secret.
2. Sir Henry Briggs (1844-1919), educator and politician
Anglican AA 20
Henry Briggs was the son of a British shoemaker. After training at St Mark’s College, Chelsea, and a distinguished career as a schoolmaster in the UK, he was appointed founding headmaster of the Fremantle Grammar School in 1882. Here he broadened the traditional English approach to education to make it more relevant to the needs of the colony. Soon the Fremantle elite no longer felt they had to send their children to Britain for an education.
In 1896 Briggs entered politics by winning the seat of West Province. He advocated a humanitarian approach in the controversial area of industrial relations. He followed George Shenton as President of the Legislative Council in 1906, and was knighted for this work in 1916. Briggs died a bachelor and half his substantial estate went to the Home of Peace in Subiaco.
3. Mary Ann Morrell (1789-1832)
Anglican AA 1669
Mary Ann Morrell’s headstone is one of the oldest in the cemetery. She died on 8 October 1832 and was buried in Alma Street Cemetery. It is thought that hers was the first grave at the cemetery to be marked by a headstone. She was exhumed at the family’s request on 20 October 1915 and was re-interred at Fremantle Cemetery.
4. Percival Mulligan (1910-1929), speedway rider
Anglican AA 143
Percival was the only son of William Mulligan, manager of the Fremantle Providoring Company, and Grace Mulligan. He was one of many adventurous young men who rode motorcycles at Claremont Speedway on Saturday nights during the late 1920s.
On 2 March 1929 Percy, 18, was entering the grandstand straight. His parents were watching when he fell in the path of a following rider. Percy’s speedway death was the second in two months, and the tragedy set off considerable debate about the sport. Many critics claimed that young and inexperienced riders were being sacrificed to make money for the promoters.
Following the funeral, the parents brought baskets of flowers to the grave every day. They also ordered what is one of the tallest monuments in the cemetery – a 2.5m polished granite base supporting a 2.1m marble angel imported from Italy. The monument cost 671 pounds, the price of an average house at the time.
5. Thomas Charles Edwards (1878-1919), cargo lumper and working class martyr;
and Sarah Jane Kent - formerly Edwards, nee Phillips (1882-1964), battler
Anglican AA 1053
Tom Edwards was born in Lockwood, Victoria, and in 1901 married Sarah Jane in Bendigo. Tom gave as his occupation as “striker” – a worker who sets off explosions in the mines. He came to Western Australia in 1910 and went to work as a lumper (a worker unloading cargo) in Fremantle. A riot – which came to be known as “Bloody Sunday” – erupted on Victoria Quay on 4 May 1919 between members of the Lumpers’ Union and police.
During the riot, Tom went to the rescue of the union’s president, Bill Renton. He suffered a severe blow from the butt of a police rifle and died three days later. At the time of his funeral, industry throughout the State stopped for three minutes’ “reflection”. Bill Renton, his head still bandaged, led the funeral procession on horseback from Fremantle Trades Hall to Fremantle Cemetery. The route from the Trades Hall to the cemetery gates was completely clogged with mourners.
Sarah Jane continued to live in the rented house at 14 Howard Street with her three daughters. She received donations of food from land farmed by members of the Industrial Workers of the World. Later she moved to a shop and residence organised by the Tom Edwards Trust. In 1936 Sarah Jane married William John Kent, but on her death she was buried in the same plot as her first husband. Tom Edward’s headstone is among some 1200 graves sponsored by the Fremantle Lumpers’ Union.
6. Henry Vincent (1796-1869), gaoler and builder
Henry Vincent arrived in the colony in 1830 as servant to a retired soldier. He had lost one eye fighting in the Battle of Waterloo. He worked for a period of time in Fremantle as a police constable and gaoler at the Round House.
Although not highly literate, Vincent had a talent for construction. He was appointed superintendent of the Native Establishment at Rottnest Island from 1838-1849. Vincent won praise for a surge of construction on the island, but many saw him as overly strict and cruel in his dealing with Aboriginal prisoners. He was constantly worried about his safety and kept a sentry at hand.
Eventually Vincent was investigated by the Protector of Aborigines but was never formally charged. He and his prisoners returned to the mainland when Rottnest was leased to Captain Dempster. For a period of time, Vincent supervised some extensive road-building in the South-West. He spared neither his prisoners nor himself on the task.
From 1855-1867 Vincent returned to Rottnest as superintendent on an annual salary of 200 pounds. The handsome salary apparently did not improve his savage temper. Vincent died a sad man. He was sick, disillusioned that he hadn’t been granted a full pension, and Louisa, his wife of more than 30 years, had filed for divorce.
7. George Bland Humble (1839-1930), school master and town clerk
Methodist BB 230
George Bland Humble was the son of a Yorkshire farmer. He was a young headmaster at a London school when the Government of Western Australia offered him a position to teach at Greenough Flats south of Geraldton. He arrived in 1862 after a perilous ten-month voyage and took up his position at the hamlet’s tiny schoolhouse. Bland remained at Greenough for one year, narrowly escaping drowning when the Flats were flooded.
He moved to Fremantle to take up the position of headmaster of Fremantle Boys’ School, where he stayed until 1889. For some of these years he combined his teaching duties with the position of part-time clerk of works with Fremantle Council. In 1892 he became a full-time council officer.
Humble was shocked when in 1904 the new mayor, Frank Cadd, demanded and eventually received Humble’s resignation, claiming Humble’s work had not been satisfactory. Humble – always a conscientious man – was understandably hurt. He ran against Cadd for election for the office of mayor the following year and lost only narrowly.
Humble had a steadfast interest in the Wesleyan Church; in Freemasonry; and in sport, particularly Australian football. He was a founding member of the Fremantle Cemetery Board and, in his meticulous fashion, devoted six weeks to planning his own funeral.
8. Martha Rendell (1871-1909), convicted child murderer
Methodist B 409
Details of the early life of Martha Rendell are sparse. It is known she left her husband and their several children in South Australia and came to Perth in her mid-thirties. Here she was instrumental in persuading carpenter Thomas Morris, who had known Rendell in Adealide, to leave his wife.
When Martha Rendell joined Morris at a weatherboard house in East Perth in 1907, she also took over the care of the five Morris children. Over the next 15 months, three of the children died from “throat afflictions”. It was only when another child became ill in 1909 that police became suspicious.
The Coroner found that Rendell had killed the children by regularly painting their throats with hydrochloric acid. Soon after, a jury found her guilty of one death despite the lack of a motive. They had heard that Rendell was a “sadist and pervert” and the judge said she was a “moral deformity”. Morris, who had been jointly charged, was acquitted. Rendell became the only woman to be hanged in Fremantle Prison. She died protesting her innocence. There was controversy at the time, with many claiming she did not get a fair trial. The debate occasionally resumes.
8. Eric Edgar Cooke (1931-1964), convicted serial murderer
Methodist B 409
Eric Edgar Cooke achieved notoriety as the last person to be executed in Western Australia. He was a random killer who ended Perth’s relaxed mode of living exemplified by unlocked doors and sleeping outdoors on a summer's night.
At 14 Cooke left the fifth school he had attended and took on a variety of jobs. Later he joined the regular army where he was noted for his skill with a rifle. He was discharged after it was discovered that he had a string of previous convictions for house break-ins.
Meanwhile Cooke married Sally Lavin, a 19-year-old waitress, and they produced seven children. During this time, Cooke was arrested several times as a “Peeping Tom”, for stealing a car, and for other minor offences.
Early on 27 January 1963 Cooke killed three people and wounded another two. In August that year he shot dead a student on a babysitting assignment. Police still had no suspect for the murders as Perth went into a state of deep hysteria. Locksmiths and dealers in large dogs prospered.
Surveillance police arrested Cooke as he returned to reclaim a rifle he’d hidden earlier. The sigh of relief around the city was almost tangible. After his arrest, Cooke confessed to numerous crimes including eight murders, 14 attempted murders and many burglaries. It was generally agreed that Cooke had committed at least another two earlier and unsolved murders. The story which came out at his trial was one of parental abuse and brain damage.
Cooke was convicted. He went to the gallows – the last person to be hanged in WA – claiming he had committed the murders for which John Button and Darryl Beamish had been convicted. John Button’s conviction was quashed in 2002, and Darryl Beamish was exonerated in 2005.
9. Ivan “Russian Jack” Fredericks (c1864-1904), miner
Roman Catholic CC 245
One of Western Australia’s most colourful pioneers, Ivan Fredericks, better known as Russian Jack, was born in the Russian port of Archangel. In 1886 he arrived in the Kimberley to make his fortune in the gold strike. According to historian Geoffrey Blainey, Russian Jack pushed a barrow with shafts 2.2m long and a wooden wheel so wide it would not sink into soft sand.
Russian Jack personified the notion of “mateship”. On one waterless stretch he overtook two old men who were too tired to carry their swags. He loaded the swags on his barrow and delivered them to the nearest waterhole. On another occasion he wheeled a sick prospector in his wheelbarrow through the Kimberley’s harsh landscape to shelter and water.
But for all his noble deeds, Russian Jack never struck his bonanza. Once he fell 20m into an open cut while walking in the dark. He was found three days later in a sorry state. His first comment to his rescuers was, “I’ve missed a shift”.
Russian Jack was about 40 when he died in Fremantle of a hard life coupled with even harder drinking. His last years were spent in a shelter for the homeless and in prison. A Catholic priest, Father John Smyth, performed the service around his unmarked grave. Almost a century later Ivan was chosen as “a symbol of nobility” by the Russian Orthodox Church and a marble cross was erected on his grave. He is also honoured by a bronze statue outside the Visitors’ Centre in Halls Creek.
10. John Smyth (1875-1919), Oblate priest
Roman Catholic CT 1
Father Smyth built up a close following amongst Fremantle’s Catholics, serving for nearly 20 years at St Patrick’s in Fremantle and St Anne’s in North Fremantle.
Father Smyth was born in Dalkey County, Dublin. He trained as a priest in London, took theology in Liege, Belgium and arrived in Fremantle at the turn of the century.
In December 1918, Father Smyth became one of the earliest victims of the influenza pandemic. Already suffering from heart disease, he had little strength with which to fight back. He died on 7 January 1919. The Catholic Record devoted a broadsheet page to his obituary, describing his funeral as a ‘spectacle for angels and for men’.
The Catholic community took up a collection to provide a memorial for his grave. The resulting gravestone took the form of a large, granite Celtic cross. There are now several Oblate priests and brothers buried in the plot, and it has become a marker to help parishioners find their way around the Catholic section of the cemetery.
11. William Edward Marmion (1845-1896), merchant and politician
Roman Catholic CC 343
William Marmion was the son of Patrick Marmion, who had come to Fremantle as an indentured servant. By the time William was born, his father was a wealthy merchant.
William began work at 16. He was a master mariner at 21 and soon established his own business, W E Marmion and Co. The company was involved in merchandising, pearling and maritime activities. William Marmion was also an early station owner in the Kimberley, where he leased millions of hectares of grasslands. He also established mining companies.
Marmion married Anna Gibbons in the Fremantle Catholic Church in 1870. They had nine children.
On the introduction of representative government in 1870, Marmion was defeated for the Fremantle seat but was appointed an unofficial nominee member of the Legislative Council. In 1873 he was elected for Fremantle and remained its member – from 1890 in the Legislative Assembly – until his death. Premier John Forrest appointed Marmion as Commissioner for Crown Lands and Minister for Mines from 1890, an era when gold strikes were transforming the state.
When he died suddenly, there was widespread grief. His funeral at Fremantle was the one of the largest ever held in the port. A biographer noted: “Marmion’s progressive public works policy and voluble promotion of Fremantle have left him with a reputation for being honest and clear-sighted, but lacking in tact.”
12. Bartholomew Timothy “Bat” Daly (1867-1932), transport contractor and councillor
Roman Catholic CC 352
“Bat” Daly was born near Killarnie, Ireland, and later migrated to South Australia. He came to South Fremantle after working on the Broken Hill water supply. He bought a master carrier’s business and called his company Daly and Sons.
The Dalys lived in “Arondale”, a large wooden house at 39 Douro Road. The house still stands today. Powerful draught horses could regularly be heard clomping as they waited for 7am to begin pulling the company’s large drays to and from the port. On weekends the horses were exercised at South Beach, and they were a star attraction in the annual Fremantle Draught Horse Derby.
Daly served three terms with the Fremantle Municipal Council between 1909 and 1929. He was a Chief Ranger of the Irish Foresters, a social welfare group. He also served on the Fremantle Hospital Board and was the first chair of the United Friendly Societies Council. When Bat Daly died, his family held a wake at his house which became a part of local legend. Daly’s six sons later became actively engaged in the business.
13. Karol Tapci (1930-1952), convicted murderer
Roman Catholic C403
Karol Tapci was a young Czech migrant. In 1952 he was found guilty of the murder of a retired farmer in Wubin, in Western Australia’s northern wheatbelt region.
His execution on 23 June 1952 at the age of 22 was controversial because he was hanged for murder (a lesser charge than wilful murder) and because it was perceived that there was an anti-migrant element to the case.
14. Joseph Francis Allen (1869-1933), architect, mayor and political fixer
Presbyterian E 169
Joseph Francis Allen was born in Cornwall and reached Fremantle in 1896 via Sydney. C.Y. O’Connor’s Fremantle Harbour works were in full swing and Allen worked on the project for two years as an assistant engineer.
As a founder and partner of the architectural firm of Allen and Nicholas, he was responsible for the design of the East Fremantle Town Hall and the Fremantle Trades Hall.
In 1903 Allen became interested in local politics. He served on the East Fremantle Council for 29 of his remaining 30 years, including five years as mayor. Allen was also elected to the State Government as a Liberal member for West Province. He became chairman of committees in 1919 but was defeated the following year.
For the rest of his life he worked in conservative politics at an organisational level. He also served on public utility boards, professional associations and Rotary. His death in 1933 was sudden and mysterious. His body was found in the Swan River off East Street, but the Coroner found no suspicious circumstances.
15. Elias Solomon (1839-1909), auctioneer and politician
Jewish Orthodox F 1
Elias Solomon was born in London and arrived in Australia with his family in 1841. After working as a chief clerk and bookkeeper in Adelaide and Melbourne, Solomon commenced business in Fremantle in 1868 as an auctioneer and agent.
Little was known about Solomon’s early years in Fremantle, as many personal papers were destroyed after his death. Later, a 500-page letter book of thin water-stained pages was discovered and revealed details of his business activities.
Always interested in public affairs, Solomon served three terms as Mayor of Fremantle between 1889 and 1901. By this time he was living at Ocean View, the home he had built in 1884 at 134 Solomon Street, Beaconsfield, which still stands today. As mayor, he helped achieve many improvements in the town, including the building of the Town Hall, the cleaning up of cesspits from backyards, and the acquisition of land for a synagogue.
He was also elected to the Western Australian Legislative Assembly for South Fremantle in 1892 until 1901, and in 1901 became the first Federal member for Fremantle. He was one of four Jewish members of the first Commonwealth Parliament.
At various times Solomon headed public boards such as the Fremantle Literary Institute, Fremantle Municipal Tramways, Fremantle Public Hospital, Fremantle Cemetery and the Technical School. He was also consular agent for Italy and Visiting Justice to the Fremantle and Rottnest Prisons.
16. Lionel Samson (1799-1878), wine and spirit merchant
Jewish Orthodox F 2
Lionel Samson arrived in Fremantle with his younger brother, William, only two months after the arrival of the first white settlers. The Samson brothers unpacked their ample merchandise and Lionel set up a shop on the beach near Arthur Head and went into business as a wine and spirit merchant, importer and auctioneer. The following year the brothers bought a stone cottage in Cliff Street as a residence.
Lionel was appointed postmaster, but this was not a lucrative appointment. However, the Samson brothers had wealthy financial connections and were able to wait out the difficult early years. Meanwhile, they set up a second shop.
Lionel quickly earned a high standing in the fledgling community and was appointed to the board of the Bank of Western Australia in 1837. He was 42 when he sailed for England in 1842 and married his cousin Frances (Fanny) Levi, 19. She was connected to the Rothschilds, and for ten years was the only Jewish woman in the colony. They had six children.
William left the colony around this time. Lionel became the first Jewish person to sit in an Australian legislative chamber and served two terms in the WA Legislative Council. To the present day, Lionel Samson’s company has remained in the hands of direct descendants making Lionel Samson & Son the oldest continuing family business in Australia. The Samson family has produced three mayors of Fremantle, and has a suburb east of Fremantle (Samson), a town in the Pilbara (Point Samson) and a number of streets around the Perth metropolitan area named in their honour.
17. Sir William Frederick “Fred” Samson (1892-1974), “Mr Fremantle”
Jewish Orthodox F 27
The grandson of Lionel Samson (see Location 16), Frederick wanted to be an engineer rather than entering the family business. In 1913 he was amongst the first students to enrol at the University of Western Australia, but left his studies the following year to join the Australian Imperial Force. Although he was a crack shot, he was too short to be accepted. Instead, he went to work for the Metropolitan Water Supply. He later set up his own real estate agency in 1930 and prospered.
Fred Samson campaigned for secession and in 1936 joined the Fremantle City Council. His roots in Fremantle local government were strong. Both his uncle, William Frederick, and his father, Michael, had been mayors of Fremantle.
Samson lived in the family’s mansion “Samson House” in Ellen Street (which still stands today), surrounded by Fremantle memorabilia. He loved the movies and built his own small theatre in his house using seats salvaged from the last Fremantle tram. During 37 years on the council – 21 of these as Fremantle’s longest-serving mayor from 1951 to 1972 – the portly, talkative, goodnatured Samson appeared everywhere around Fremantle. In fact, he was dubbed “Mr Fremantle”. He was knighted in 1962.
He wanted industrial progress in Fremantle but he also lobbied to protect historic buildings such as the Round House and the convict-built Lunatic Asylum. He regarded the Fremantle City Council development of the industrial area of O’Connor as a major achievement.
18. Mary Higham (1819-1883), merchant
Congregational D 255
Mary Higham arrived in Fremantle with her husband, John, and their two children aboard the Sabrina in 1853. They saw the move as an opportunity to improve their lot. They opened a small bakery and confectionery store, and Mary had four more children in the next five years.
John died when he was 40 and Mary was left to support six children. This she did brilliantly. With the help of a teenage son, she started a clothing and furnishing emporium, M. Higham and Sons, at the corner of High and Market Streets. She operated the emporium and the bakery, achieving a degree of success that was unusual for a woman at that time. She won considerable respect from the men but was barred from a number of their political, business and social organisations. Her son, Edward, had to stand in for her.
After expanding the emporium (she won the contract to provide shingles for the Lunatic Asylum) her company diversified – in the manner of Fremantle’s dominant merchants – into pastoral activity, pearling and shipping. Mary Higham resigned from running the company in 1881, handing it over to her son, John, two years before she died.
19. Joseph Johnston (1814-1892), Congregational clergyman
Congregational D 251
Joseph Johnston was born in Lincolnshire. As a young man he worked as a schoolmaster and became a member of the Congregational Church in Manchester.
He was 24 when the London Missionary Society invited him to work in the Pacific Islands. There he met and married Harriett Platt, the daughter of a senior missionary.
In 1853, after a spell back in the UK, Johnston was sent to Fremantle. Initially he worked from a small rented cottage and travelled between Fremantle and Bunbury on horseback. The Reverend Johnston was dubbed “one of the most learned men in the colony”. His advocacy of “good works performed with generosity” drew the major merchants to support his social concerns, even though most were not Congregationalists.
He also lectured on intellectual topics to members of the Fremantle Mechanics Institute. However, when he thought the Institute was becoming a “gentlemen’s club”, he helped form the Fremantle Workingmen’s Association. The Reverend Johnston then instigated the amalgamation of the two bodies into a new organisation, the Fremantle Literary Institute. The Institute was a self-improvement group offering training in subjects such as mathematics and literature.
The Reverend Johnston’s Fremantle Congregation Church, completed in 1877, was renamed the Johnston Memorial Church. It was demolished in the 1960s and replaced by a large apartment block, Johnston Court.
20. Bateman Brothers - John (1824-1909) and Walter (1826-1882), ship owners and merchants
Congregational D 28 and D 3
John and Walter were the sons of John Bateman Snr, an early hardware merchant, pub-keeper and postmaster. Amongst other pursuits, John Bateman Snr also founded the Fremantle Whaling Co. in 1837.
As teenagers, the brothers worked for their father. John Bateman Jr. was an adventurous youth and had sailed with American whalers visiting the coast before his father’s company was formed. He became an expert on the WA coastline. The brothers were the colony’s leading importers and exporters, with goods being carried on a fleet of their own spectacular sailing ships along the coast and as far overseas as China.
John Bateman Jr. remained a man of adventure and promoter of the port of Fremantle. He kept his fleet of sailing ships operating along the northern coast even when steam and steel ships had become the dominant mode of transport.
Walter Bateman, who had followed his mother as postmaster in 1855, was more interested in civic affairs. He was Fremantle’s first representative on the semi-elective Legislative Council in 1868. The Bateman brothers’ sons continued the family involvement in the firm. It eventually became a public company with interests in hardware, plumbing, and marine equipment. Property speculation caused the historic enterprise to be closed in the 1980s, leaving the company name on a number of West End buildings.
21. Annie Jane “Nurse Sheedy” Clune (1870-1945), midwife
Roman Catholic C 258
Annie Clune was known for much of her life as Annie “Nurse” Sheedy. Annie came to Fremantle with her baker husband and five sons from Cessnock, New South Wales. They lived near Wray Avenue.
When her husband, James Sheedy, died at the age of 40 in 1908, Nurse Sheedy started a small maternity hospital at her home. In 1920 she moved up to Ocean View, a large, luxurious house in Solomon Street built by Elias Solomon, which still stands to this day. It had been used as a military hospital since 1917 which must have had a particular poignancy for Nurse Sheedy, as two of her sons were killed in World War I.
The hospital advertised “homely accommodation for ladies”, providing “fresh milk daily from own cows”. Some patients, particularly Italians and Yugoslavs, would trade fresh fish or vegetables in return for their accommodation.
Nurse Sheedy remarried and officially became Annie Clune, but remained known as Nurse Sheedy. One of her sons Arthur (“Barney”) Sheedy became a celebrated footballer with East Fremantle. “Barney” Sheedy married Hilda Bee, whose mother worked at the hospital as a cook. Nurse Sheedy’s grandson, Jack Sheedy, was an even more famous footballer. Jack’s estimate of his grandmother’s significance: “She must have delivered half of the people of Fremantle”.
22. Ernest Alexander “Shiner” Ryan (c1886-1957), robber and folk hero
Anglican A4 464
“Shiner” Ryan was born in Adelaide and, by the time he was 15, had been flogged for larceny. His inventive mind soon made him Sydney’s top planner of “jobs”. In 1914 he and an accomplice became the first Australian criminals to use a motor vehicle to pull off a payroll hold-up.
Next he became an expert at picking locks; it was said his brains were in his fingertips. However, he paid dearly for his crimes, spending much of his life in Fremantle Prison where he repaired watches and toys, kept the prison clock running, and made counterfeit florins which were passed by a senior prison officer.
During World War II he “went straight”. His generous help for out-of-luck residents made him a Fremantle folk hero. He was a media sensation when he married Kate Leigh, Sydney’s “Queen of the Underworld”, in St John’s Church, Fremantle in 1950. The marriage was short-lived. Shiner spent his last years living at one of the many racing stables among the sand dunes of South Fremantle while he made battery whips for trainers in order to pay his rent.
23. William Watson (1864-1938), food wholesaler and politician
Methodist B 167
William Watson was born at Peg Leg near Bendigo. He left school at 13 and worked at a variety of jobs. He arrived in Western Australia in 1895 with his family, a little capital and a horse and cart.
Watson opened his first grocery and tea rooms at the corner of High and Market Streets. More shops followed. He switched his major interest to manufacturing bacon, hams and smallgoods at a factory and abattoir in Hamilton Hill. The enterprise also diversified to making butter and cheese under the Watsonia label.
Known as “Old Bill”, Watson became wealthy, but was always regarded as a good bloke in egalitarian Fremantle. He was conservative politically, but gave freely to the families of the radical Fremantle Lumpers’ Union during strikes.
Watson disliked political parties. He was elected as the independent Federal member for Fremantle in 1922 and again in 1925 when he defeated Labor’s John Curtin by 6000 votes. He did not stand in 1928 and Curtin won. When William Watson died, John Curtin was a pallbearer at his Fremantle funeral. “He was a generous and friendly opponent,” Curtin said.
24. Alexander McCallum (1877-1937), bookbinder, unionist and politician
Methodist B 82
Alexander McCallum was born in Adelaide. He started work as an apprentice bookbinder before coming to the WA Government Printing Office. He became a vigorous union advocate and a skilled arbiter. He played an important role on the wharf on 4 May 1919 – a day known as “Bloody Sunday” when Tom Edwards (see Location 6) was killed. McCallum is credited with organising a truce between unions and the police and preventing an absolute bloodbath.
As general secretary of the Australian Labor Party, McCallum demonstrated considerable political power. He used his influence to bring John Curtin to Perth as editor of the Westralian Worker to save the young firebrand from the destructive influences of Victorian politics.
McCallum won the state seat of South Fremantle in 1921 and held a number of portfolios in the Collier Government. In 1933 he was Deputy Premier and the following year became Acting Premier. He produced important programs of public works and steered through changes to labour legislation. He also carried through the Town Planning Act (1928).
25. William Dalgety Moore (1834-1910), explorer and businessman
Anglican A 700
William Dalgety Moore was the eldest son of Samuel and Dora Moore. The couple arrived in the colony the same year William was born. As an adventurous lad of 15, Moore started work in the office of the Surveyor-General, John Septimus Roe. When he was 19 he ran a sheep and cattle station on the Irwin River and built up a good reputation for his dealings with the indigenous population.
In 1860 Moore married Susanna Monger, daughter of the York merchant, J. H. Monger. Susanna died in the year she had her 12th child. His second wife, Annie Gallop, had seven children.
Moore’s business career expanded rapidly, as did his building program in Henry Street. He also built the Phoenix Flour Mill in Nairn Street; engaged in large-scale pearling at Shark Bay; in timber-cutting in the South West; and farming at Gingin.
Moore earned a high standing in the community. He was elected to represent the town in the semi-elective Legislative Council; was the first Treasurer of the Fremantle Town Council (1871); and first president of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce (1873-95). In 1899 Moore arranged for several of his company buildings in Henry Street to be unified behind a handsome façade. This Fremantle landmark is now known as the Moores Building.
26. Joseph Bolitho “Moondyne Joe” Johns (c1827-1900), escapologist
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Joseph Johns’ criminal career began in 1849 when he was arrested in Monmouth, Wales and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for stealing food. After four years in a British prison, he headed for Fremantle on the convict transport Pyrenees
as a ticket of leave prisoner.
He eventually went to Moondyne Springs near Toodyay, where he rounded up straying horses and returned them for a fee. The number of straying horses seemed to increase with Johns’ arrival. Eventually he was charged with horsestealing but escaped from his cell and headed off on the horse he was accused of stealing, using the magistrate’s saddle and bridle.
Gradually Johns became known as “Moondyne Joe”. His life was a cycle of escapes and recaptures. Moondyne Joe made his most famous escape after he had been shackled to a specially strengthened cell. The prison doctor ordered some exercise for him on the prison rock pile, and Johns made his escape. It took police two years to apprehend him – while he sampled from a barrel at Houghton’s winery.
In his fifties Moondyne Joe married a young widow. He occasionally got into trouble but kept out of prison. He died at the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum on August 13, a confused old man making his final escape. The inscription on his tombstone “rhyddid” is Welsh, meaning “freedom”.
27. Brian William Robinson (1939-1964), convicted murderer
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Brian William Robinson caused the biggest manhunt Western Australia had seen on February 9, 1963 when he fled to Gnangara Pine Plantation after shooting dead two people, one a police officer.
Robinson went berserk during an argument with his father at their home in Epsom Avenue, Belmont, after he had heard an incest rumour – that his mother was also his sister. He shot Constable Noel Iles, the police officer who volunteered to attend the domestic, and then shot Andrew McDougall in the back seat of a Goggomobil. Robinson was caught in scrub off Widgee Road north east of Perth the next day.
He was hanged in Fremantle Prison at 8am on January 24,1964 and buried three hours later. His was the penultimate execution in WA before Eric Edgar Cooke on October 26, 1964.
28. James Lilly (1845-1905), ship owner
Anglican A 476
James Lilly was born in Launceston in 1845. In 1869 he sailed for Victoria, where he married Hannah Dillon of Hawthorn. He soon established himself as a shipping agent at Port Fairy on the south west coast of the state.
Lilly later looked west and saw opportunities in WA’s isolation. In 1876 he negotiated a lucrative WA Government subsidy to provide a regular coastal shipping service to meet the mail steamers at Albany. The following year when he came to Fremantle in his steamer, the Rob Roy, he was already a man of considerable wealth and standing. Lilly quickly expanded his fleet before selling out to the Adelaide Steamship Company. He remained their manager.
Lilly co-founded the Fremantle Gas and Coke Company in 1895. He was involved in community affairs as a member of the Fremantle Hospital Board. Around Fremantle he was known as the “father of WA shipping”. He built a vast Federation bungalow, Ivanhoe, overlooking Fremantle Prison.
In later life Lilly’s behaviour became increasingly erratic. Eventually he bought a bottle of strychnine from a Claremont chemist and took a fatal dose of the poison.
29. Fred Instone (1865-1934), manufacturer
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Fred Instone is remembered for his handsome wood-stoves, some of which are still in Fremantle houses today. Instone was a Staffordshire man who came to Fremantle in 1889 on a three-year contract to manage the large Fremantle engineering factory, W. Sandover and Co. When his contract was up, he began manufacturing plumbing supplies and stoves in Croke Street. His timing was good, as the rushes to the eastern goldfields generated a building boom in Fremantle.
As a young man with a strong voice, Fred Instone was prominent in musical and dramatic groups. Soon after his arrival, he joined St John’s Church choir as the tenor soloist. He was briefly (1892-95) a member of the Fremantle Town Council before retiring to concentrate on his business. He was also a member and chair of the Fremantle Hospital Board and, when he retired in 1912, was invested with the “freedom of the hospital”.
At Fred Instone’s funeral, Canon E. M. Collick referred to his sense of justice and kindness. His wife, Evelyn, was also noted for her philanthropic work – together the Instones had provided support for many returning soldiers from World War I.
30. Charles Yelverton O’Connor (1843-1902), engineer
Anglican A 251
Charles Yelverton “C.Y.” O’Connor was born in Gravelmount, County Meath, Ireland, as the potato famine was about to strike. His family moved to Waterford where he completed his schooling. He was then articled to a professional engineer.
Economic conditions in Ireland remained poor, prompting O’Connor to move to New Zealand in 1865. Over the next 16 years he supervised almost every sort of engineering project. He was marine engineer for New Zealand when the WA Premier, John Forrest, heard of this brilliant builder of harbours and railways. He offered O’Connor a job. O’Connor asked with what projects he would be involved. Forrest cabled back: “Railways, harbours, everything”.
It was an offer O’Connor couldn’t refuse. He arrived in 1891 with his family and was given his first job as Engineer-in-Chief of the Public Works Department – to build a new harbour at the mouth of the Swan. He argued successfully against earlier designs, and advocated blasting away the bar across the mouth of the Swan to create an inner harbour. Construction began in 1892 and the new Fremantle port was completed in 1897.
O’Connor received a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George the same year. For five years he was also engineer-in-charge and acting general manager of the government railways. During his time the railways were extended, re-engineered, and became profitable.
O’Connor had already been thinking about how to get water 560 kilometres uphill to the eastern goldfields. His solution was “simple and elegant” but he was brutally criticised in parliament, and also particularly by The Sunday Times. The massive project was nearing completion when the engineer cracked. He rode his horse into the sea near Robb Jetty on 10 March 1902 and shot himself. He was survived by his wife, three daughters and four sons. His devoted Public Works Department staff paid for the imposing granite Celtic cross marking his grave.
By the end of 1902 the pipeline was completed as planned, for the estimated cost. On 24 January 1903, amid much celebration, John Forrest turned on the water at Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, praising O’Connor: “The great builder of this work … to bring happiness and comfort to the people of the goldfields for all time'.
O’Connor’s pipeline was entered onto the National Heritage List in 2011.
31. Shipwreck Memorial (11-12 July 1899)
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A single block of marble was sculpted into an anchor and chain draped over a cross to mark a tragic 24 hours in WA maritime history. Two tall ships were lost in a heavy storm off Rottnest Island in 1899. The local community started a fund for the survivors and erected the memorial for those who drowned.
One of the ships, the Carlisle Castle, was carrying locking bars from Glasgow for the Goldfields Water Supply project. The vessel went down off Penguin Island on 11 July with all 22 hands during a force 10 storm. The weather was so bad the master, Captain Lindsay, could not get a fix on sun or stars.
The City of York was a smaller three-master carrying timber and doors from San Francisco. With Captain Jones in charge, the ship had made record time for the passage and was approaching Rottnest on the evening of 12 July. The master thought flares from Rottnest Island were from a pilot boat ahead – and ran aground. Although the wreck was only 200 metres from shore, 11 crew, including Captain Jones, were drowned. An initial inquiry blamed “gross carelessness by the master” but this was overturned and Captain Jones cleared of all blame.
32. Daniel Scott (1800-1865), master mariner
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Daniel Scott was a true maritime man. As the colony’s first harbourmaster, he obtained a special licence to marry Frances Harriet Davis in his office on the wreck of the Marquis of Anglesea. It was a marriage which, in the fashion of the times, would produce 11 children.
Scott already had considerable nautical experience when he arrived in Fremantle in 1829. As a Liverpool boy, he had run away to sea and at 21 was captaining a small ship which traded between the African Gold Coast and the West Indies. Scott was appointed the first chairman of the Fremantle Town Trust in 1848 and held the position for much of the next 10 years.
When the first convicts arrived unannounced off Fremantle in June 1850, there was a scurry to house them. Captain Scott’s bond store (on the site now occupied by the Esplanade Hotel) was modified for the task. He was also responsible for the first locally-constructed sea-going ship built at the colony and soon had several boats trading along the coastline. He also dabbled with whaling.
Daniel Scott received grants of rural land and in his later years focused on plans to mine and smelt lead near Geraldton.
33. Jane Frances Scott (1831-1833)
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Jane Scott’s headstone is thought to be the second oldest in Fremantle Cemetery. She was the youngest child of the Harbour Master Daniel Scott and his wife, Frances. Jane died aged 21 months and nine days.
Her headstone was found in a house in North Fremantle owned by the Gourley family. The headstone was being used as a hearthstone and was discovered when the building was being demolished. It was then given to Fremantle Cemetery and incorporated in the Scott family estate together with her sister, Katherine Samson (nee Scott) who died in 1940.
34. Elizabeth Adams (1808-1891), midwife,
and William Adams (1792-1867), whaler and general seaman
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Elizabeth and William Adams arrived in Fremantle in 1830 aboard the Rockingham. They had left their home of Robertsbridge, Sussex to start a new life with their two children. They were servants indentured to Thomas Peel, but were soon released.
William had fought in the Battle of Waterloo and was wounded in the head. For the rest of his life he carried a silver plate in his skull. The plate was found to be intact when his remains were transferred from Alma Street to his present resting place at Fremantle Cemetery.
Elizabeth made her mark as Fremantle’s first midwife, delivering hundreds of babies into the world while also managing to bear and raise ten more children of her own. She was affectionately called the “Mother of Fremantle” and later “Granny Adams”. Elizabeth went to maternity cases in Perth when requested, frequently walking when there wasn’t a suitable conveyance available. It was claimed she never lost a case, even though she rarely had the assistance of a doctor.
Meanwhile, William worked out of Fremantle as a whaler and general seaman. The inscription on their tombstone describes William as “one of the heroes of Waterloo”, although during his lifetime William was modest about his part in the battle, saying only that he had “done his bit”. Elizabeth and William both died of old age.
35. Saverio Pensabene (1914-1989), fisherman
Roman Catholic B 15
Saverio Pensabene was born in Capo d’Orlando, Sicily. He arrived in Fremantle in 1927 at the age of 13 to join his father, Antonio. Together they built up a thriving crayfishing operation, storing their abundant catches in holding crates submerged under Dagoe’s Jetty.
Eventually Saverio bought his own boat, the Lady Luck. He would leave his home in Suffolk Street at two o’clock in the morning and sail out on the wind, returning later with the day’s hardwon catch. Back then a chaff bag of 120 lobsters would earn him 10 shillings.
In 1941 Saverio married Stella Vinci, but with World War II in progress, his life took an unexpected turn. The government seized a number of boats owned by Italians, and the Lady Luck was one of them. Saverio was taken to Harvey, where he dug potatoes for five shillings a day.
After the war, the US market discovered crayfish, and prices went sky-high. Saverio was soon skippering a boat with an engine, and earning a handsome return for his efforts.
The Metropolitan Cemeteries Board acknowledges the Fremantle Historical Society and the former Fremantle Cemetery Board for their invaluable contribution to the establishment of this project.
The Board further acknowledges those who contributed to the concept, research and preparation of the material for the original Fremantle Cemetery Historical Walk Trail:
Ron Davidson, social historian
Fremantle Local History Collection staff
Rob Besford, Fremantle Prison
The original project was enriched by the stories and memories of current and former staff of Fremantle Cemetery, from diggers to landscapers. Other community members, including monumental masons, have also shared their knowledge and recollections.
Ivan "Russian Jack" Fredericks
State Library of Western Australia, 061973PD
Joseph Francis Allen
Fremantle Local History Collection
Sir William Frederick Samson
Fremantle Local History Collection
State Library of Western Australia, 0014548D
The Board gratefully acknowledges permission to use photographs from the State Library of Western Australia, the Fremantle Local History Collection (Fremantle Library), and from private family collections.