|Windsor Catholic Cemetery. Photo M. Nichols|
Prior to 1810, inhabitants of the Hawkesbury buried their dead in various places including their properties, or along the riverbanks. There was also an early burial ground on the banks of South Creek at Green Hills (which was the original name of Windsor) but no records survive and the exact location is not confirmed, although a small plot of land has been set aside to commemorate early burials.
In 1811, the following Government Order, decreed by Governor Lachlan Macquarie was published in the Sydney Gazette stating that all burials were to take place in consecrated cemeteries. The Order stated:
The respective burial grounds which were sometime since marked out for the accommodation of the settlers in the several townships of Liverpool, Windsor, Richmond, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Wilberforce having lately consecrated by the Principal Chaplain, His Excellency, the Governor is pleased to give this public notice, thereof and at the same time directs & commands that in future all settlers and other residents within those townships, or in their respective vicinities shall cease to bury their dead as heretofore within their several farms, & shall in a decent and becoming manner inter them in the consecrated grounds now assigned for that purpose in their respective Townships.
It was also recorded that when someone died, "notice of the event shall be immediately given to the Constable at the District wherein it has occurred, and the Constable receiving such information is hereby directed to communicate the same with the least possible delay to the nearest Resident Chaplain, in order that he may attend and perform the Funeral Service."
This order was not to be neglected and ignoring it could result in severe punishment. Further it became a "sacred duty ... to guard and protect the Remains of ... deceased Friends from every unnecessary Exposure."
Governor Lachlan Macquarie was keen the burial grounds be made available soon after and donated ten pounds towards the erection of a fence, to be built as quickly as possible. The first of these burial grounds to be established was at Windsor. Many people do not realise that the burial ground came first and was established adjacent to what was eventually to become St. Matthew's Church of England, which began construction in 1817. Andrew Thompson who died in 1810 was in fact the first person buried in the burial ground. Henry Antill was responsible for selecting Thompson's burial site.
Shortly after Windsor, burial grounds were established in Richmond, Wilberforce, Pitt Town, Castlereagh and Ebenezer. They were surveyed, marked out and then consecrated.