The Lazenby Tomb
Written by Ian berryman
The cemetery at East Perth was the main burial ground for Perth from 1830 until April 1899, when it was closed. Until 1916, however, some of the existing family tombs were used for burials.
There were over 10,000 burials at the cemetery, but because there are no surviving registers, only about 3500 of those who were interred there have been identified.
Recently, when I was sorting some family papers, I found a letter which gives details of the persons who are buried in a plot reserved for members of the Lazenby family.
George Lazenby was born on 3 October 1807 at Spaldington, a village in the south of Yorkshire, and was baptised on 5 November at Bubwith, an adjoining village. He emigrated to the Swan River colony, taking a passage in the Cygnet, which arrived at Fremantle on 27 January 1833, and lived in Western Australia until his death, on 9 June 1895. Before leaving England, he became engaged to Mary Ann Wells, who did not come to the colony until six years later, aboard the Brothers, which arrived at Fremantle on 1 January 1839. As yet I have not been able to discover when and where Mary Ann was born. There were ten children from her marriage to George, two sons and eight daughters. Neither son married; of the daughters, one died at the age of five, one did not marry, while the other six married, and provided George and Mary Ann with about 35 grandchildren.
Mary Ann died on 16 April 1886, aged 76, and was buried the following day, I presume in the East Perth cemetery.
The letter that I found in the family papers is from George Lazenby; it describes his wife’s death and gives details of the family tomb.
Dated 20 April 1886, the letter is addressed to his daughter Hannah Boyd Lazenby (1849-1911), who married William Shakespeare Hall (1825-1895), and was then living in Cossack. After describing Mary Ann’s death, George said that
she was interred at 4 PM on the 17th [of April], everything was done we could do to honor & pay respect to her remains & her Body now rests side by side with Lucy & her infant & your Gracy.
‘Lucy’ is George and Mary Ann’s eldest daughter, who married James Anderton Hall (W.S. Hall’s younger brother) in 1858 and died on 30 April 1873, aged 33. According to stories that I heard from older members of the Hall family, Lucy died in childbirth, and from what George says in his letter, her child was either stillborn or died shortly after having been born. I have searched the online indexes to the records of the Registrar-General but could not find any trace of the birth and death of a child born to James and Lucy Hall in 1873.
There is quite a story about ‘Gracy’. According to family tradition, Hannah Hall gave birth to a daughter, who was named Grace, at Cossack early in 1875, but both mother and child became ill, and the Hall family went to Perth to seek medical attention. Unfortunately, the child died during the voyage. Instead of being buried at sea, her body was preserved in a cask of salt, and interred after the ship reached Fremantle.
Around 1935 my grandfather, Aubrey Hall, and his sister, Mrs Joy Clifton, became involved in proceedings over the will of one of George and Mary Ann Lazenby’s children. The person had died unmarried, and under the terms of the will, the estate was to be divided among the testator’s nieces and nephews. My grandfather and his sister then had the task of proving that Grace had existed, so that her share of the estate would go to them. They could not find Grace’s name in the records of the Registrar-General, so it appears that her birth and death had not been registered. Eventually, Aubrey and Joy were able to prove that Grace had existed and claimed her share of the estate.
According to my grandfather, the vessel that brought the family from Cossack to Fremantle was the Annie Beaton. By searching Trove, I found a shipping report which recorded the arrival of the Annie Beaton at Fremantle on 6 May 1875 from Port Walcott (as Cossack was sometimes called), and that the passengers included Mr and Mrs Hall and three children, one of whom had died at sea.
The evidence that I have outlined above shows that the Lazenby tomb at East Perth should contain the mortal remains of four persons, and I think it likely that George was interred in the same grave after his death in 1895.
Five of the ten children of George and Mary Ann Lazenby died before the closure of the East Perth cemetery in 1916. In order of their deaths, they are as follows:
Samuel Wells (1841-1871)
Selina Clara (1843-1900), m. William King
Hannah Boyd (1849-1911)
George’s letter proves that Lucy was interred in the Lazenby tomb, however he does not say that Agnes and Samuel were in the same tomb as Lucy. Agnes died in July 1858, from burns received when her clothes caught fire, at Cardup, where George had a farm, and she may have been buried on the property. Samuel was killed by Aborigines on an island off the Pilbara coast, and was, I believe, interred in the cemetery at Cossack.
The evidence available to me indicates that neither Selina nor Hannah was buried at East Perth. Selina died on 27 March 1900 at ‘Baramba’, the King family’s property at the Moore River, the notice for her death does not mention a funeral service, and I think it likely that she was interred either on the property, or in the Gingin cemetery. Hannah died at Cossack and, I believe, was buried there, in the Hall tomb, alongside her husband.