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Remains Found Believed To Be Of Sir James and Lady Stirling

Published on: 1 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 1 Jun, 2017

By David Rose

A long-running saga over the whereabouts in a Guildford churchyard of the remains of the man who founded Western Australia, and his wife’s remains, appears to have been resolved.

Admiral Sir James Stirling, the first governor of Western Australia

The Diocese of Guildford has reported (May 31) that remains have been found in a vault believed to be of Admiral Sir James Stirling and his wife, following a “small exploratory excavation beneath land adjacent to the old rectory at St John’s Church, Stoke-next-Guildford.”

It is the latest news in a saga of the Scots-born British naval officer and his Guildford-born wife, Ellen (nee Mangles) and the mystery of where they are buried.

Lady Ellen Stirling (nee Mangles).

Sir James became the first Governor of Western Australia in 1854. He died in Guildford in 1865 and his wife in 1874. In Western Australia he is something of a national hero, while in Guildford, Surrey, he is relatively unknown and not considered so important to the town’s overall history.

On it’s website, the Diocese of Guildford quoted the Revd Mark Woodward, rector of St John’s Church in Stoke Road, who said: ”I am delighted that the location of the original burial place of Admiral Sir James and Lady Ellen Stirling has been found.

“This is very good news for the family, the Government and people of Western Australia, and here at St John’s Stoke Church where we have always wanted to locate the grave.

“We have worked very closely with the family descendants, as well as the Government of Western Australia over recent years and look forward to continue that very close working relationship. They are very much in my prayers at this time.”

The Stirlings’ cover stone now placed between St John’s Church and the Stirling Centre.

The diocese’s report adds that “immediate steps have been taken to protect the location for health and safety reasons, and to ensure the dignity and tranquility of the area is upheld”.

See previous stories on the Stirling saga:

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

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

Parke’s People No.22. Ellen Stirling

Can You Help Solve Mystery Of Admiral’s Lost Bones?

Western Australian resident Sid Breeden has long campaigned to find the Stirlings’ grave and wants a memorial erected at Stoke Church. He is seen here with 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.

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Responses to Remains Found Believed To Be Of Sir James and Lady Stirling

  1. John Kenneth David Watson Reply

    October 15, 2021 at 4:34 am

    Thank you for this. I am a parishioner at ‘All Saints’ in the Parish of Swan. The church is located near to the spot where Stirling camped on his exploration of the Swan River. Nearby ‘Ellen’s Brook’ he named for his wife.

    The kangaroo paw, state emblem of Western Australia was named for the Mangles family by Georgina – ‘anigosanthus manglesii’, and in our first few months after emigrating to Australia (1950) we lived close to Mangles Street in Bunbury.

    I’m sure our history buffs at All Saints will be interested to hear of further developments.

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