OLD TIMBOON BURIAL PLACE AND CHARLES SIEVWRIGHT'S GRAVE

Location

83-93 DEPOT ROAD SKIBO, Corangamite Shire

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Heritage Inventory (HI) Number

H7521-0003

 

Heritage Inventory Description

The Old Timboon Burial Place/nThe Old Timboon Burial Place is not recorded in Official Health Department records and apparently was not registered as a public cemetery. Although there were a number of early settlers interred in this burial ground, only the grave of Charles Sievwright is now marked with an inscription on a simple flat concrete slab on the ground. It is clear that this slab has been erected long after Sievwright was interred in 1851. The reserve is further defined by pipe railings mounted on low stone piers. The relatively modern, but now indistinct inscription reads: IN MEMORY OF CHARLES WIGHTMAN SIEVWRIGHT SECOND (ILLEGIBLE) CHA SIEVWRIGHT WHO DIED AT MOUNT LEURA 25 FEBRUARY 1851 AGED 21 YEARS.

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Heritage Inventory Significance: The Old Timboon Burial Place off Dept Road (Turkey Lane) Camperdown was established on ground forming part of Donald and Duncan McNicolĘs pastoral run, Dunoon. This burial place, which may date from the time of earliest settlement at Lake Timboon and pre-date McNicolĘs occupation of the land, was enclosed with fencing to form part of McNicol and CompanyĘs homestead site on the Timboon Creek around 1848. An early survey plan records the exact layout of this simple reserve and one surviving gravestone marks the site in an open paddock to the present day. This flat gravestone of durable sandstone further records that at the age of twnety-one years, ęCharles Wightman SievwrightĘ was killed at Mount Leura and interred in 1851. Examination of available records confirms that the inscription on the slab (which probably dates from the early 20th century) is inaccurate to the extent that the names of the father and son have been transposed. References in pastoral station journals and metropolitan newspaper reports confirm that Charles Sievwright died as a result of a riding accident at ManifoldĘs Dairy Station (the manager then being John Clark) on 25 February 1851 and that he was buried two days later in the cemetery at Lake Timboon. Charles Sievwright, the second son of Charles Wightman Siewright, the former Assistant Protector of Aborigines for the Geelong District at Port Phillip, was most probably born at Malta in the Mediterranean in 1828. He came to Australia in September 1838 and settled with his parents at Geelong in June 1839. He grew up in difficult circumstances at Geelong and at Protectorate Camps in the Western District and apparently obtained a position with John and Peter Manifold at Purrumbete in the late 1840s. At the time of his accidental death, Siewright was employed as a manager at ManifoldĘs pastoral run and considered to be ęone of the finest young men in the colonyĘ as well as ęa most dutiful son and brotherĘ. Although James Bonwick records that the ęCemetery beside the Basin Banks had thirteen tombsĘ in 1858, the Lake Timboon Burial ground was still in use in the late 1860s, for the infant Mary Agnes Manifold died at the age of six years and was interred in 1865. Less than three years later, Agnes Thomson, the mother of Marion Manifold of Purrumbete, died on 20 February 1868 and was buried at Timboon. Soon after, both bodies were exhumed and re-buried in the new Camperdown Cemetery on the banks of Lake Gnotuk. The Old Timboon Burial Place and the grave of the younger Charles Sievwright are important surviving signals of first settlement by European immigrants at Mount Leura and at Lake Timboon. SievwrightĘs grave is of historical significance to the region, with the story of SievwrightĘs accidental death being a tangible reminder of the hazardous nature of pastoral station life in Western Victoria in the nineteenth century. The burial place is clearly associated with other surviving buildings at Lake Timboon, including the McNicol homestead Craigburn and the former Lake Inn on the Timboon Creek and is of cultural significance in illustrating burial practice in the Port Phillip Colony before statutory regulation and the keeping of public records. The Old Timboon Burial Place and Charles SiewrightĘs grave is considered to be of State cultural significance because of historic and social qualities and particularly because: 1. It is important for reasons of artistic, religious, spiritual, symbolic, cultural, educations or social associations. 2. It represents or is an extraordinary example of way of life, activity, custom, process or function. 3. It demonstrates an association with an important figure or figures, cultural group or event. 4. It is of considerable age relative to the date of settlement at Lake Timboon and the Colony at Port Phillip. Recommendations: 1. The Old Timboon Burial Place at Camperdown should be examined either in conjunction with the adjacent homestead Craigburn in Depot Road (Turkey Lane) under the provision of the Historic Buildings Act (1981) for inclusions in the Historic Buildings Register or separately under the as yet to be proclaimed provisions of the Heritage Act (1995) for inclusion in the Heritage Register. 2. The Old Timboon Burial Place at Camperdown should be nominated for listing in the Register of National Estate under provisions of the Australian Heritage Commission Act (1975). 3. The Old Timboon Burial Place at Camperdown should be listed in the Town of Camperdown Planning Scheme and included within the boundaries of a proposed historic site, the settlement at Lake Timboon.

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History

Contextual History:History of Place:
Heritage Inventory History of Site:
It appears from evidence that the inscription on the concrete slab has been incorrectly prepared as there is no record of the son of Charles Wightman Sievwright having an identical name. Although there are few contemporary records relating to Charles Sievwright, it appears from his father’s own advice to the Colonial Secretary at Sydney on 20 November 1838 that he did not have a middle name.

1852-1865: This is a composite plan based upon C 160 which has been progressively updated with survey and subdivision data from the time of the base plan in 1852. Of particular interest is the identification of a ‘Burial Place’ on the west bank of the Timboon Creek, in the area marked as a ‘Water Reserve’ and near to the homestead building. This annotation does not appear on any other survey plans of the Lake Timboon area prepared by R.D.Scott or his predecessors.

Ref: ‘Plan of the Township of Camperdown, Parish of Colongulac, Mount Leura’, Robert D. Scott, Assistant Surveyor, 1852, (updated to 1865), C 162, Central Plans Office Melbourne

1. Charles Sievwright (1830-1851)
Charles Sievwright was most probably born at the British military establishment at Malta in c.1828, the second son and third child of Charles Wightman Sievwright, an officer in the 7th Fusiliers, and his Scottish wife Christina. Their first son and second child, Marcus was born at Corfu in 1826. Charles Sievwright grew up at Malta apparently in reduced circumstances and as a neglected child.
As a boy of ten years of age, he came to Sydney with his parents, arriving in September 1838 aboard the Elizabeth. In January 1838 he travelled to Melbourne with his family and later went to Geelong, arriving in June 1839. Little is known of Sievwrights childhood life at Port Phillip. He spent some time at least with his father at the Protectorate Camp at Lake Keilambete and later at Mount Rouse. Assistant Protector Sievewright, who like most of the squatters, moved into the District without a family, recorded the unexpected joy shown by the Aborigines when his wife and seven children joined him at his camp at Lake Keilambete (Jan Critchett, "A distant field of murder",p27).
Charles Sievwright was employed by John and Peter Manifold for a number of years as a manager either at Purrumbete or on their Dairy Station at Mount Leura. Sievwright most probably joined the Manifold workforce after 1845, when his father left for England. His accidental death was recorded in the columns of the Melbourne Argus published on Tuesday 4 March 1851 and in local station journals and personal diaries.
04.03.1851 (Argus, Melbourne) Meloncholy Accident: Last Tuesday (25 February) as Mr Charles Sievwright, who has been for several years managing for Messrs John and Peter Manifold, was riding a young horse, at Mount Lara [sic], the horse bucked him off, and kicked in his breastbone; he also had concussion of the brain. From which injuries he died in a few hours. Mr Sievewright was one of the finest young men in the colony, and a most dutiful son and brother. He was to have started on Saturday for Melbourne to see his mother and sisters, whom he had not seen for two years: Victoria Colonist.

1851: Mr Severight was killed by his horse bolting and dashing him against a tree at Clarke’s diary (now known as Werna), on the north side of the cutting going into Camperdown. Mr Severight’s grave is in Duncan McNicol’s paddock just south of Old Timboon.
‘John McKinnon’s Journal 1850-1853’ : An unmarked station journal and diary identified by Michael Stumfels of the CDHS as being prepared by John McKinnon, manager at John Hasties Punpundal pastoral run, now Leslie Manor. Diary entry for Wednesday 26 February 1851:
‘Mr Hastie to Timboon came home at night bringing the melancholy news of Mr Seivewright’s death by a fall from his horse yesterday at Mr Clarke’s.
Diary entry for Thursday 27 February
‘Mr Hastie and self [John McKinnon] to Mr Sievewright’s funeral, home in the evening.’

The death of Charles Sievwright at Mount Leura is not recorded in the Victorian Pioneers Index 1838-1888 although details of some members of the Sievwright family are listed. His grave stands in an open paddock north of Craigburn , the former homestead of Duncan McNicol and in an area which was once enclosed as the Old Timboon Burial Place.

Ref: Camperdown and District Historical Society. "Grave at Craigburn" , typescript by R.A. McAlpine of information from the Manifold Papers, N.D.

2. Charles Wightman Sievwright : Assistant Protector of Aborigines for the Geelong District and the Sievwright Family.

A search of the International Geneaological Index (British Isles, Southern Europe, Malta) has not identified any relevant biographical information. Apparently born c.1851 as his age was given as 36 years in a December 1837 communication from Sir George Arthur to Lord Glenelg recommending his appointment as an Assistant Protector of Aborigines at Port Phillip in the Colony of New South Wales. 'Mr Siewright is 36 years of age has served 20 years in the army, last in the Fusilers ; was selected to be miliary secretary to Sir Frederick Ponsonby at Malta; has a wife and family ; describes himself to enjoy good health, and to be able to undergo much fatigue, and states that he should take and interest in the civilisation of the Aborigines and in their religious instruction.'
A.S.Kenyon records that C.W.Sievwright enlisted in the British Army as an ensign on 18 January 1816, was on half pay between 25 December 1817 and 25 December 1818, was transferred as an ensign in the 55th Regiment on 23 December 1824 and was appointed as a 2nd lieutenant in the 7th Royal or Fot Fusiliers on 8 April 1829.

Sievwright was later appointed as the Miliary Secretary to the Lieutenant-Governor of Malta and held this position of influence for a period of 5 years, afterwhich he returned to England, leaving his wife and young family at Malta without financial support and near destitute. In 1837, Sievwright was selected for one of the four posts of Assistant Protector of the Aborigines at Port Phillip. Although he was highly recommended by his immediate superiors, his appointment was marked with controversy as it was alleged that he was a gambler and had amassed substantial debts.

The four Assistant Protectors with their respective families, left England in the Elizabeth on 29 April 1838, arriving in Sydney on 29 September. The officers remained in Sydney for three months, finally reaching Melbourne on 3 January 1839. Charles Sievwright recorded the membership of his family party in official correspondance to the Colonial Secretary at Sydney on 20 November 1838. "In reference to your letter of yesterday’s date, addressed to ‘The Assisstant Protectors of Aborigines’, I have now the honour to forward a return of my family who proceed with me to Port Phillip. Mr & Mrs Sievwright. Children: Francis Ann [sic] aged 16 years (born c. 1822), Marcus aged 12 years (born c. 1826), Charles aged 10 years (born c. 1828), Fredrica aged 8 year (born c.1830), Melita aged 8 years (born c. 1830), Georgina aged 5 year (born c.1833), Falkland aged 4 years (born c.1834)."

After transferring to Port Phillip, Sievwright went with his family to Geelong arriving at this primitive settlement in June 1839. Charles Wightman Sievwright’s administration of his Protectorate was marked by incompetence and scandal. He spent considerable time at Geelong sitting on the Magistrate’s Bench as a Justice of the Peace instead of investigating allegations of atrocities committed by squatters and their servants in Portland Bay District as well as attending to the needs of his displaced aboriginal charges. He eventually moved to set up a camp at Lake Keilambete in March 1841, and after long protestations from the squatter John Thomson, Sievwright was instructed to move his camp to Mount Rouse and a site selected for him by the Chief Protector G.A. Robinson in February 1842.

On 3 June 1842, Sievwright was suspended on a charge of misappropriating government stores, a charge which was seen to be clouded by the issue of his reported immorality. In August 1842, Superintendent Charles La Trobe confirmed rumours that Sievwright had an affair with the wife of one of his colleagues, had attempted to seduce his daughter, had behaved brutally to his wife and neglected his family. Sievwright left for England aboard the Cygnet on 26 May 1845 to take up the matter of his dismissal with the Colonial Office in London. He was unsuccessful in his efforts to clear his name and it is not known if he returned to Australia. There is certainly no mention of him being in Melbourne at the time of the accidental death of his second son at Mount Leura.

Of the Sievwright children, it is recorded that Marcus commenced practice as a solicitor in Melbourne in September 1850, married Sophia Cornelia La Rose, formerly of Brussels, on 21 February 1852, and died at St Kilda on 10 September 1905. Francis Anna Sievwright married the Rev. Arthur Davenport on 3 February 1848.

Reference: Public Records Office Laverton, Victoria. Correspondance from the Office of Assistant Protector of Aborigines in Western District.
Reference: State Library of Victoria; La Trobe Collection. A.S. Kenyon Card Index. Entries for Charles Wightman Sievewright, John Sievwright and Marcus Sievwright.
Reference: Barry Bridges, 'G.[sic] W. Sievewright and the Geelong District of the Aborigines Protectorate’, in Geelong Historical Society, Investigator Volume 7 No.1, March 1972, pp 21-28 and No. 2, June 1972, pp 54-59.

Reference: M. Cannon (ed): Historical Records of Victoria Volume 2A, The Aborigines of Port Phillip 1838-1839, Melbourne 1982 pp31-33. Includes details of C.W. Sievwright’s qualifications, testimonials and military experience.
Historical Records of Victoria Volume 2B, Aborigines and Protectors 1838-1839, Melbourne 1983, includes specific correspondance relating to: Sivewright’s appointment as an Assistant Protector of Aborigines; allegations that Sievwright left his wife and children in Malta destitute and dependent on charity for nearly two years and a further claim that Sievwright gambled all his wife’s money away; Sievwright’s explanation of his financial difficulties and the need to sell his commission as a means of overcoming pressing debts; Chapter 23 ‘C.W.Sievwright and the Western District’ deals specifically with Sievwright’s administration of his Protectorate from 12 February 1839 until 22 January 1840.
Who Killed the Koories? Port Melbourne 1990 pp 23-28; gives information on Siewright’s personal relationships with his eldest daughter Frances Anna, and the attempted resolution of the allegations of immoral behaviour made against Sievwright as well as details of Sievwright’s career as an Assistant Protector in Western Victoria.

Reference: P.L. Brown (ed), Fyans Memoirs, Geelong, 1986 pp 235-236.
Reference:: Jan Crichett, A Distant Field of Murder: Western District Frontiers, 1834-1848. MUP Melbourne 1990.
Reference: A.G.L. Shaw (ed) Gipps-La Trobe Correspondance 1839-1846, MUP 1989

Newspaper Sources
Geelong Advertiser:
04.10.1841: Article concerning C.W.Sievwright’s failings as an Assitant Protector of Aborigines in the Geelong district.
06.12.1841: Sievwright castigated by Geelong Judge.
02.01.1845: Report that Sievwright has been suspended.
01.02.1845: Article on the Aboriginal Protectorate
28.05.1845: Report that Sievwright departed for England aboard the Cygnet on 26 May 1845.
22.02.1848: Report of marriage of Francis Ann Sievwright to the Rev. Arthur Davenport on 3 February 1848.
Argus (Melbourne)
14.09.1905: Death notice of Marcus Sievwright.

Agnes Thomson (d. 1868) and Mary Agnes Manifold (1859-1865)
At least two other graves were once located in the Old Timboon Burial Ground, these were identified in the Manifold family history as follows:
Reference: W.G. Manifold "The Wish-For-Land" Newtown 1984, p138. 'The following year [1865] Marion May [Manifold] was born, but sadly little Mary Agnes died. Two more years and James Chester was born. Agnes Thomson had now joined her daughter at Purrumbete, and on 20th February ’68 she died. At that time the Camperdown cemetery was down on the flat ground near the Skibo road and here Agnes was first laid to rest. Not long afterwards it was decided to move the cemetery to its present site overlooking Lake Gnotuk. Agnes’ body, and little Agnes Mary’s [sic] were duly taken to Purrumbete, one of a very different style being substituted at the new grave.'

The Camperdown Cemetery
The Cemetery Reserve at Camperdown was certainly in use by 1857 when James Bonwick visited the district and observed that 'The Cemetery beside the Basin Banks and thirteen tombs'. (See James Bonwick, "Western Victoria, Its Geography, Geology and Social Condition." Geelong, 1858, reprinted 1970, p29).

Robert Scott prepared a ‘Plan of the Cemetery at Camperdown’ dated 18 March 1858, with the layout in the 8 acre reserve being approved by the Governor-in-Council on 6 April 1858. The Camperdown Cemetery was finally established as an 8 acre reserve by proclamation in the Victorian Government Gazette for 1863 (p2274). A 4 acre extension was subsequently gazetted in 1872.
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