Pearce Family Cemetery | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Pearce Family Cemetery

Item details

Name of item: Pearce Family Cemetery
Other name/s: Pearce Cemetery
Type of item: Complex / Group
Group/Collection: Cemeteries and Burial Sites
Category: Cemetery/Graveyard/Burial Ground
Location: Lat: -33.7570826287 Long: 150.9561497440
Primary address: Seven Hills Road, Baulkham Hills, NSW 2153
Local govt. area: The Hills
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Deerubbin
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT100 DP707538
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Seven Hills RoadBaulkham HillsThe Hills  Primary Address
Old Windsor RoadBaulkham HillsThe Hills  Alternate Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Estate of the late M W PearcePrivate24 Mar 99

Statement of significance:

A small family burial ground, historically important because it contains the remains of Matthew Pearce, the district's first settler, and the graves of his descendants. (Pike 1980). The cemetery has associations with the Pearce family, who also owned nearby Bella Vista Farm, Seven Hills (SHR 754) (Stuart Read, 2001). The location of the cemetery on the Old Windsor Road indicates the important role of the road for communications between the local settlers and the rest of the colony, especially the markets for their produce, and of the importance of the family who displayed their genealogical relationships and sense of place in such a publicly prominent mode. (HO)
Date significance updated: 19 Apr 05
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1795-1888
Physical description: The Pearce Family Cemetery is situated on a rise almost at the highest point of the land on Seven Hills Road North and is surrounded by paddocks. It is a small cemetery of 464.5m2.

There are no traditional cemetery trees here. The largest tree is a conifer and this is outside the fencing and there are three more conifers inside the fence. There are two jacarandas, three natives and three other small trees.

There is a wooden post and rail fence completely surrounding the cemetery but this is not the original fence, nor is the iron gate original. The posts at the side of the gate are painted, as is the gate. The central feature is the large family vault surmounted by a stone sarcophagus dedicated to those of the Pearce family who died in the 1870s and the adjacent granite obelisk dedicated to members of the Archdall family) is a most prominent landmark. There is much conjecture as to whether bodies were moved from St John's, Parramatta to this cemetery, whether just the headstones were moved or whether other headstones were placed here. The vault is clearly large enough to hold twenty coffins. It is approximately 10 metres x 4 metres. There are three single brick-edged rectangles on western side of the vault. These mark the three separate entrances into the vault. The remaining graves, plaques and headstones are against the fences. These are mainly simple upright sandstone slabs with sandstone edging and some have concrete on top but they are mostly too overgrown to state this for sure. There are some granite headstones on a sandstone backing. There is one open-book headstone and one white marble headstone with some carving of flowers. There are no footstones. Only on one grave can the name of a monumental mason (Murphy) be seen. There are apparently many more burials in the cemetery than there are markers.

It is enclosed by a post and rail fence with iron gate and solid wooden gate posts. (Sinclair 1999)
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Physical Condition - Fair. There has been natural deterioration of the monuments as well as some vandalism. However the cemetery has been reasonably well maintained by the Pearce family (the Trustees). (Sinclair 1999)
Date condition updated:15 Dec 99
Modifications and dates: Repair to graves and replacement of stolen gates and fencing appear to have been undertaken in the 1990s. (Pearce 1992)
Current use: Cemetery
Former use: Farming Land


Historical notes: The land on which the cemetery is located consists of - on the east - a small part of Matthew Pearce's grant dated 1795 [Reg. 1 No. 169(3)] (portion 209 of 160 acres) and a larger part of Matthew Woodward Pearce's grant dated 1835 [Bk. P p.7] (portion 209 of 40 acres).

Matthew Pearce arrived as a free settler on the 'Surprize' in 1794 and was granted land that he called 'King's Langley' (from which the nearby suburb takes its name). Pearce was a well-known landholder in the district and was a member of the Grand Jury in Parramatta in 1825.

Ownership of the land on which the cemetery stands, switched branches within the Pearce family. Matthew Pearce died in 1831 and his lands were left to his widow Martha for life, and then to his two sons Matthew Woodward Pearce and William Thomas Pearce. In 1835 the Commissioner of Claims reported that Matthew Woodward Pearce was entitled to the land surrounding and including the cemetery. In a Deed of Partition, Schedule B, [Bk. N No. 588] dated 1838, it was stated that this land was left to William Thomas Pearce. His will leaves the land to his widow Eliza until her death, then to their youngest son Phillip Augustus Pearce.

In 1895 Phillip Augustus Pearce mortgaged the land for (Pounds)1000. The mortgage document does not mention the cemetery, but it clearly includes all of portion 209 and a large part of portion 208 on both sides of Seven Hills Road. He remortgaged the land in 1904 to Henry Dawson of Dulwich Hill. [Book 771 No. 586] The map attached to this mortgage marks the cemetery, but the cemetery is not referred to as an exclusion within the detailed list of lands. The mortgage was discharged in 1906.

In 1905 when Phillip Augustus Pearce initiated proceedings to bring all the land under the Real Property Act, Edward Henry Pearce (of "Bellavista" - second son of William Thomas Pearce) was the trustee. Title of the land surrounding the cemetery was issued to him. [CT Vol. 1960 fol. 52]. The cemetery was specifically excluded and has never been brought under the Real Property Act. Phillip Augustus died in 1919 and according to his death certificate, he is buried in the family cemetery but there is no monumental inscription to be seen.

In 1984 a DP was lodged for resumption of the cemetery land (DP 707538). In March 1985 Baulkham Hills Shire Council reversed its decision to resume the cemetery land, and a PCO [No. 593] was placed on the cemetery by the Heritage Council. In 1988 a DP was lodged for acquisition by the RTA for all the land surrounding, but excluding, the cemetery (DP 773517).

The original pioneers Matthew Pearce (died 1831) and his wife Martha (died 1843) have monumental inscriptions in this cemetery as have many of their descendants. However it is not possible to say for certain when the first burial took place on this land. There are monumental inscriptions for three children of Matthew Woodward Pearce - George Henry (died 1847 aged 5 years), another George Henry (also died 1847 aged 5 days) and Matilda Susannah (died 1850 aged 2 years). In 1865 William Thomas Pearce died and was buried at St Bartholomew's, Prospect. His wife Eliza died in 1878, and there are monumental inscriptions for this couple at the cemetery. In 1876 Mary Anne Pearce (wife of Matthew Woodward Pearce and mother of the three children already mentioned) died, and her husband Matthew Woodward Pearce, the (original) landowner died in 1878. His death certificate shows he was buried at St John's, Parramatta, yet there are monumental inscriptions to this couple at the family cemetery.

The first documentary proof of a burial is on the death certificate of Henrietta Fletcher (second daughter of William Thomas Pearce) who was buried there in December 1888.

(1999) The land has been continually owned by the Pearce family for over two hundred years. (Sinclair 1999)

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture Orcharding-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Remembering the deceased-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Operating and maintaining private family burial grounds-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Disintering and reburying the dead-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying and remembering notable persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Matthew Pearce, free settler-

Recommended management:

Conservation Area supporting Bella Vista Farm SHR item should include Pearce Family Cemetery and any archaeology in the area relating to Bella Vista Farm (Morris & Britton, 2001).


Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act Maint. monument & garden to Nat Trust

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) The maintenance of existing monuments and surrounds in accordance with the guidelines of the National Trust of Australia, such works to be carried out only after consultation with and the agreement of the Manager, Heritage and Conservation Branch.
(2) Garden maintenance including cultivation, weed control, the repair and maintenance of existing fences, gates and garden walls, pruning and tree surgery, but not including extensive lopping;
May 2 1986
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act See File For Schedule

Order Under Section 57(2) to exempt the following activities from Section 57(1):
(1) Manual clearingof paths and drains.
(2) Hand weeding of grave plots.
(3) Mowing of lawns and paths in a manner that doesn't damage edging material.
(4) Any work in accordance with the current management program or Conservation Plan, or other as approved from time to time by the Manager, Heritage and Conservation Branch.
(5) Poisoning of weeds by spot application of a herbicide (eg. Roundup, Zero) not affecting ornamental or symbolic plantings and remnant native vegetation.
(6) Remedial tree surgery by current proffessional horticultural practitioners.
(7) Removal of dead branches or trees in cases of public safety hazard.
(8) Sympathetic repair and maintenance of existing roads, paths, signs and drains.
(9) Continued use of existing family vaults.
(10) Interments, including placement of ashes, where no new memorial is required, except as listed below.
(11) Erection of standard memorials in any area used by religious orders or the Armed Services.
(12) Erection of memorials in family plots remaining in use provided memorials are in keeping with those existing.
(13) Addition of inscriptions by means on keeping with existing lettering.
(14) Attachment of bronze / stainless steel plaques to existing monuments by fixing unobtrusively to plinths, pedestals or rear of stelae.
(15) Suppression of bush fire or domestic fire in cases of threat to public safety or property.
(16) Bush fire hazard reduction by means approved by the Manager, Heritage and Conservation Branch.
(17) Maintenance of safety clearances around overhead power lines in accordance with guidelines issued by te Energy Authority of NSW (1986).
Aug 12 1988
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2) OF THE HERITAGE ACT 1977

Standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977.

I, Donald Harwin, the Special Minister of State pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales do by this Order, effective 1 December 2020:

1. revoke the order made on 11 July 2008 and published on pages 91177 to 9182 of Government Gazette Number 110 of 5 September 2008 and varied by notice published in the Government Gazette on 5 March 2015; and

2. grant the exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 that are described in the attached Schedule.

Donald Harwin
Special Minister of State
Signed this 9th Day of November 2020.

To view the standard exemptions for engaging in or carrying out activities / works otherwise prohibited by section 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977 click on the link below.
Nov 13 2020

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0059302 Apr 99 271546
Heritage Act - Permanent Conservation Order - former 0059312 Aug 88 1324282
Regional Environmental Plan  30 Jun 89   
Local Environmental Plan  01 Mar 91   
Local Environmental Plan  01 Sep 89   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Colonial Landscapes of the Cumberland Plain and Camden, NSW2000 Morris, C., & Britton, G./NSW National Trust (for the Heritage Council of NSW)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenK.Pearce1992Letter: Pearce Family Cemetery, Seven Hills Road Baulkham Hills
WrittenP.Pike National Trust Listing Card - Pearce Family Graves
WrittenSinclair, C1999Information supplied through State Heritage Inventory From

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage NSW
Database number: 5044968
File number: S90/06067

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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