Balmoral Cemetery: A family history outing

In July of 2014, I traveled to Balmoral Cemetery in Brisbane with Ian Donaldson to investigate some family history links to number of Donaldson graves that he had previously located. We knew that some of the individuals buried here were relatives, but were unsure about a number of them. Armed with a trusty notebook and my iPhone, we planned to track down individual plots using the Brisbane City Council’s grave search tool and document them on paper and in photographs. Unfortunately technical problems with the BCC site meant that we only got through half the graves on our list, but we discovered the graves of previously unknown family members leading to some new family history research. Once the weather is cooler we will return again to check on the graves and finish our Balmoral Cemetery family history survey.

The Balmoral Cemetery Graves

Below you will find each grave listed under a separate tab with images and descriptions. I have also included transcriptions of the plaques, notes about the individuals mentioned and personal profiles.

Ian indicating unmarked plot (Balmoral 5/337) supposed to be one John Donaldson, an unknown relative.
Ian indicating unmarked plot (Balmoral Cemetery 5/337) supposed to be one John Donaldson, an unknown relative.
This unmarked plot (Balmoral Cemetery 5/337) is the grave of John Donaldson, died 6/7/1915 aged 66 years and Josephine Gladys Donaldson, died 7/3/1916, aged 22 years and presumably his daughter. It is currently unknown whether these individuals are relatives of the Donaldson/Laughton family of Brisbane.
Balmoral 1/253, a double plot with inscriptions for Elizabeth Jack and Robert Donaldson, presumably unknown relatives.
Balmoral Cemetery 1/253, a double plot with inscriptions for Elizabeth Jack and Robert Donaldson, presumably unknown relatives.
This double plot (Balmoral Cemetery 1/253) is the grave of Elizabeth Jack Donaldson, died 13/11/1940 aged 74 and her husband Robert  Donaldson, died 3/6/1942, aged 76 years. It is currently unknown whether these individuals are relatives of the Donaldson/Laughton family of Brisbane. The gravestone is white marble inlaid with lead letters, set on a three tier plinth. It reads:

In loving memory of | Elizabeth Jack Donaldson | Died 13th Nov 1940 | Aged 74 years. | Also | Robert Donaldson, | Husband of the above | Died 3rd June 1942, aged 76 years. | At Rest

Ian with Balmoral 6/196, a large monument featuring inscriptions on the sides of an obelisk for Amy Mary, John Clark, Ina Jean, Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18), John Frederick (late 41 Batt) and Hilda May Donaldson. A significant family plot.
Ian with Balmoral Cemetery 6/196, a large monument featuring inscriptions on the sides of an obelisk for Amy Mary, John Clark, Ina Jean, Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18), John Frederick (late 41 Batt) and Hilda May Donaldson. A significant family plot.
Balmoral 6/196, a large monument featuring inscriptions on the sides of an obelisk for Amy Mary (pictured), John Clark (pictured), Ina Jean (pictured), Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18 - pictured, not buried here), John Frederick (late 41 Batt) and Hilda May Donaldson. A significant family plot.
Balmoral Cemetery 6/196, inscriptions for Amy Mary, John Clark, Ina Jean and Archibald Donaldson (KIA France 30/5/18) are pictured.
Balmoral Cemetery ANZAC Project marker on Balmoral 6/196, a large monument featuring inscriptions on the sides of an obelisk for Amy Mary, John Clark, Ian Jean, Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18), John Frederick (late 41 Batt) and Hilda May Donaldson. A significant family plot.
Balmoral Cemetery ANZAC Project marker on Balmoral Cemetery 6/196. Both Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18), John Frederick Donaldson (late 41 Batt) served in WW1.
Left side of Balmoral 6/196, a large monument featuring inscriptions on the sides of an obelisk for Amy Mary, John Clark, Ina Jean, Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18), John Frederick (late 41 Batt - pictured) and Hilda May Donaldson. A significant family plot.
Left side of Balmoral Cemetery 6/196, inscription for John Frederick Donaldson (late 41 Batt) pictured.
Right side of Balmoral 6/196, a large monument featuring inscriptions on the sides of an obelisk for Amy Mary, John Clark, Ina Jean, Archibald (KIA France 30/5/18), John Frederick (late 41 Batt) and Hilda May (pictured) Donaldson. A significant family plot.
Right side of Balmoral Cemetery 6/196, inscription for Hilda May Donaldson pictured.
At this stage, this is the most significant Donaldson burial identified in the Balmoral Cemetery. Plot 6/196 is situated on the corner of two paths through the graves and shaded by a large tree. It consists of four plots marked by a large, three tiered obelisk (see the first image to the left) with five inscriptions commemorating six members of the Donaldson family, five of whom are interred here. The main inscription is carved into the bottom two tiers of the dark marble and picked out in peeling white. It is for Amy Mary and John Clark Donaldson and reads:

In | Loving memory of | Amy Mary | Wife of | John Clark Donaldson | Who died 5th Septr 1914 | Aged 52 years. | Also | John C. Donaldson | Died 19th Dec 1924 | Aged 72 years.

John Clark Donaldson was born in Wicklow in Ireland in 1853 and grew up in Wilton, Roxburghshire in the north of England. Several of John’s uncles emigrated to Australia in the 19th century, living in and around Melbourne, but his elder brother, William, also settled in Brisbane. His obituary in the Brisbane Courier, dated 26 Dec 1924 , records that John was brought out to Australia in 1880 by the Apollo Stearite Candle Co. Ltd. of Melbourne and was sent to Brisbane to manage their operations at Stanely Street. His career in Brisbane was very successful over some 41 years. John married Amy Mary Blackman, a Brisbane local in 1884 and they lived in a house called “Minto” on Apollo Road, Bulimba. Amy was the patron of the Bulimba Tennis Club  and active in the Brisbane social scene .

Below this is situated a plaque with similar finishes set into the concrete plinth. It reads:

Also their daughter | Ina Jean | Died 28th Oct 1923 | Also their son | Archibald | Killed in action, France | 30th May 1918 | Aged 25 Years.

The bottom inscription predates that for John Clark and may have been added before it with the bottom register of the obelisk reserved for John. Ina was only 26 years old at her death and a boat owned by this branch of the family and remembered by Ian Donaldson was possibly named after her.

Archibald (full name Archibald Clark Donaldson) was a Lance Corporal in the 41st Infantry Battalion, AIF (Service No. 159). His entry on the AWM Roll of Honour notes that he died of wounds and is buried in the Mont Huon Military Cemetery, Le Treport, Haute-Normandie, France. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission also includes a detailed listing for Archibald who is interred in plot V. K. 6a. A marker on the grave placed by the Friends of Balmoral Cemetery notes this memorial and provides contact details for parties interested in the “Killed in Action Memorials Project” investigating the 55 soldiers KIA during the First World War and Commemorated in the cemetery.

On the left side of the memorial, on the second tier of the obelisk, is an inscription for John Frederick Donaldson, son of John and Amy.

Also their son | John F. Donaldson | Late 41st Batt A.I.F. | Died 7th Feb 1941 | Aged 44 Years.

John served as a Corporal in the 41st Infantry Battalion AIF with his brother and was gassed in May 1918 in France, probably in the same battle that his brother was shot and later died of wounds. Late in September 1918 he received a severe gun shot wound to his right thigh and was invalided to England for recovered, before being discharged due to his wound and returned to Australia in 1919.

Finally, on the right side of the memorial, matching the location of John Frederick’s inscription, is a memorial for Hilda May Donaldson. This inscription, finished like the others on the monument in white paint, is better preserved than that of John Frederick, probably because it is in the shade of the overhanging tree, while John Frederick’s receives full sun. Hilda never married

Also their daughter | Hilda M. Donaldson | Died 1st June 1982 | Aged 82 Years.

This important memorial records details of almost the entire family of John Clark and Amy Mary Donaldson, but not their married daughter’s Ellen, Amy and Alison. Further research is required on all members of this family and a brief search of articles in the Brisbane Courier, shows that the family is well represented here.

Sarah Ann Bentley
b: abt 1858
d:
  • abt 1858 - Birth - ; Borden, Kent, England
Alice Mathams
b: 1851
d:
  • 1851 - Birth - ; Sittingbourne, Kent, England
James Coppen
b:
d:
Mary Elizabeth Crocker xx
b: Mar 1865
d: 1953
  • Mar 1865 - Birth - ; Gateshead, Durham, England
  • 1953 - Death - ; Camberwell, Victoria, Australia
Gratnell James Mitchell
b:
d:
  • 1791 - Residence - This may be James' father or another relative. The name is unique - see http://www.nationa ; Halstow the Lower, Kent
  • 1791 - Residence - This may be James' father or another relative. The name is unique - see http://www.nationa ; Halstow the Lower, Kent
James Bentley
b: abt 1869
d:
  • abt 1869 - Birth - ; Borden, Kent, England
Balmoral 6/215-16 with newly laid plaque on old plot for William Prentice, Alice Louisa and their daughter Alice Emily Donaldson.
Balmoral Cemetery 6/215-16 with newly laid plaque on old plot for William Prentice, Alice Louisa and their daughter Alice Emily Donaldson.
Ian indicating relative positions of plot for William Prentice Donaldson and Family (left, notice new plaque) and Amy Mary Donaldson and Family (right, in shadows).
Ian indicating relative positions of plot for William Prentice Donaldson and Family (left, notice new plaque) and Amy Mary Donaldson and Family (right, obelisk in shadows).
Nearby the plot for John Clark Donaldson’s family, is another small Donaldson grave for his older brother, William Prentice Donaldson. William Prentice, an engineer, married Alice Louisa Howell in New Zealand in 1891. William was already in his forties by this time, while Alice was only in her 20s. Their daughter, Alice Emily was born in 1901 in Queensland but according to the death certificate, died just before her 16th birthday of a heart condition. At the time, the family was living in Vine Street, Bulimba.

The inscription on quite a recent plaque reads:

In loving memory of | William Prentice Donaldson 1846-1921 | and his loving wife | Alice Louisa Donaldson 1867-1920 | also their beloved daughter | Alice Emily Donaldson 1901-1917 | At rest | 6-215/216

Alice and William also had a son, named William Prentice for his father, who served in the First and Second World Wars and lived in Chelmer. Some further research is required on this branch of the family as their story seems quite interesting.

Harriett Maria Bentley
b: abt 1857
d:
  • abt 1857 - Birth - ; Borden, Kent, England
Julia Bentley
b: abt 1867
d:
  • abt 1867 - Birth - ; Borden, Kent, England
Lizzie Bentley
b: abt 1868
d:
  • abt 1868 - Birth - ; Borden, Kent, England

 

These four graves at Balmoral Cemetery provide glimpses into the lives of several branches of the Donaldson family. Two of these are directly related to the ‘Oronsay’ Donaldsons and require significant further research. Already, time spent on the National Library of Australia’s Trove tool and the National Archives of Australia have provided original documents relating to individuals discussed here, as has the Queensland Birth Deaths and Marriages register. What is clear, is that the families of John and Amy, and William and Alice were a part of the vibrant social, religious and business life of Brisbane in the late 1800’s and into the next century, a city where relatives still live today.

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