Clearing weeds from Darug past at Jane Lock's grave

It was a special moment for Darug man Jay Brooks when he saw the grave of his ancestor Jane Lock in a paddock at Marsden Park on Monday, April 17.

The Gazette accompanied Mr Brooks when fellow Darug man Garry Ansell of Granville and his daughter Phoenix, 11, showed him the grave of Jane Lock, on a private farm alongside Richmond Road.

A descendant of Jane himself, Mr Ansell had located the grave in the tiny cemetery back in 2010.

“I’d been doing research on the Lock family, and Parramatta Historical Society told me about the graves,” Mr Ansell said.

He met Mr Brooks of Mt Druitt not long ago through an Aboriginal Facebook page where they’d discussed Darug history.

“Jane Lock is Jay here’s grandfather’s first cousin on his mother’s side,” Mr Ansell said.

Jane Lock’s gravestone is substantial, with a carved flower at the top. Jane was a Starkey, and by marrying John Lock, became daughter-in-law of Maria Lock, after whom a ward was named at Hawkesbury Hospital.

Maria Lock is a famous part of Hawkesbury history. She was a daughter of Yarramundi, chief of the Boorooberongal clan of the Darug people and was one of the star pupils at Governor Macquarie’s Native Institution, the remains of which are still visible next to the M7 on Richmond Road.

Through the family’s lineage, the name was sometimes spelt Lock, sometimes Locke.

State significance

Jane Lock’s grave site is just visible off Richmond Road, near South Creek, surrounded by a broken down wooden fence. It was in the cemetery of St Phillip’s, a church consecrated in 1846.

Despite the site’s dilapidated state, with all headstones knocked over and one broken due to stock walking on it, the state government’s Heritage Division listing says the site is of state significance as the remaining colonial graveyard of the early settlers of the area, predating the Riverstone cemetery. 

St Phillip’s church was severely damaged by flood in 1890 but was repaired, and used for a short time after. The congregation moved to Riverstone in the 1890s. By 1912 the church was described as just “a mass of broken bricks”. There appears to be no trace of it now.

Looking down at Jane Lock’s grave, Mr Brooks had a big smile. “This is my first time here – this is amazing!” he said.

As we talked he grabbed a shovel provided by a farm employee and started clearing away the paspalum encroaching on the grave, then turned to another to do the same, that of William Worboys, who died in 1851.

Mr Brooks had done his own resesarch on that part of the family. “William Worboys’ parents were James Worboys and Ann Webb. Ann was a Darug woman,” he said.

Two other gravestones have been found at the site, those of Henry Malloy and Josiah Worboys, however a burial register of St Phillip’s Church kept between 1848 and 1872 records 12 registered interments. Jane Lock’s grave is from 1879, so is not recorded on the register.

But there could be even more burials there. Hawkesbury Library Local Studies Librarian Michelle Nichols said not all burials have headstones. “There are usually about 30 per cent more burials in a cemetery than there are headstones,” she said.

“The burial register only records a religious ceremony and it wasn’t necessary for a person to be baptised, married or buried via a church service.

“It was however compulsory to register births, deaths and marriages with the NSW Registry from 1856. The St Phillip’s registers finished before Jane died. She may be recorded in another Anglican register either at Windsor or Riverstone.”

The Heritage Division had more to say about the significance of Jane Lock’s grave.

“The cemetery has high social significance as the site of burial for Jane Lock, a descendant of Colebee (a Darug man) who, along with Nurrangingy, had received the first land grant in 1814 from Governor Macquarie near the Blacktown [Native] Institute.”

As we left, Mr Ansell said “I want to find out more about Jane and the church – it’s haunting me”. 

  • By chance, Hawkesbury Library is about to launch an exhibition about Aboriginal Diggers in World War I – and it is about the Lock/e family. It launches on April 26. See link here.