Fringe Box



More Discovered on Stirling’s ‘Forgotten Grave’ In Guildford’s Stoke Churchyard

Published on: 11 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 27 Jun, 2017

More details have been received concerning the discovery of the final resting place in the west churchyard at St John’s Church, Stoke Road, of Admiral Sir James Stirling (the first Governor of Western Australia), and his wife Ellen (nee Mangles).

Viewed from Joseph’s Road is the site where the excavation took place that has revealed the final resting place of Admiral Sir James Stirling (the first governor of Western Australia) and his wife Ellen.

Sid Breeden of Western Australia, who has long been trying to locate what he calls the ‘forgotten grave’ of the person who is held in such high esteem Down Under, contacted The Guildford Dragon NEWS following the story published here on June 1.

He writes: “Good news about the find, but it is spoilt by the Diocese [of Guildford] media announcement not giving credit where due and no disclosure whether DNA type confirmation has been made.

“Being the person who in 2010 instigated the search for Stirling’s ‘the Forgotten Grave’ I speak from a position of knowledge. Some clarification is required so myth does not become fact for researchers in the decades ahead.

“Pinpointing the grave location was not that of the glory-takers, but a team effort by other tenacious individuals in Western Australia and in the UK. It is disappointing the diocese announcement did not graciously acknowledge these people.

“The correct story is, in 2015, using burial records, grave location mapping was initiated by Guildford UK professional genealogist Rosemary Morgan, then refined by talented Western Australian Dr Steve Errington with on-site checking by Stoke local [resident] Donna Collinson. Several photographs of mine helped confirm some assumptions.

“The church was given a copy of this map and prior to that, they and the highlighted UK descendant illogically claimed the remains were elsewhere (example: refer to the letter in of  January 24 2015 in The Guildford Dragon NEWS).”

Sid Breeden and his wife Carole with a statuette of Admiral Sir James Stirling, pictured at Stoke Church on a visit to Guildford and the UK in 2010.

Mr Breeden continues: “The assertion that the original grave cover stone was accidentally smashed is totally wrong.

“Prior to John Izzard from Western Australia’s TV STW9 in 1977 accidentally finding the smashed stone under a pile of rubble about to go to a rubbish dump, no-one including descendants knew the grave existed. I have that in writing from a now deceased senior descendant who lived in the Guildford area back then. Subsequent research has established this gravesite area was ruthlessly bulldozed to make way for a fence.

“Implying ‘500 descendants’ have been included is hyperbole. Our Western Australian direct descendants were not, nor do I suspect most others. If wrong, I’d like proof.

“To gauge interest, the 2015 churchyard memorial gathering for the 150th anniversary of James Stirling’s death was attended by interested Guildford locals and several Western Australians.

“Notably no UK descendants were interested enough to attend this milestone. A landmark day also memorialised in the Western Australian Parliament, the Perth Anglican Cathedral service and three Stirling associated local governments.

“I commend to all, give credit where credit is due.”

The Stirlings’ cover stone now placed between the church and the Stirling Centre at St John’s Church in Stoke Road, Guildford.

It is indeed a fascinating saga. Click below on links to some of the previous stories on the subject published in The Guildford Dragon NEWS.

English Heritage Rejects Plea To List Stirling Grave Amid Church’s Plan To Sell-off Redundant Churchyard.

Bid For Conservation Area Around Stoke Church And Claims Stirling’s Grave Has Been Located

Parke’s People No.22. Ellen Stirling

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