Toowong Cemetery: So, What Did I Find?


So, after all of my adventures at Toowong Cemetery, what was the end result? Did I solve all my brick walls in one fell swoop? Hardly…

In the end, I was successful in identifying only two out of ten family plots.

One plot was for my husband’s great grandmother, Charlotte MITCHELL nee EALING. Charlotte married Charles Edward MITCHELL on 24 December 1902 at Jireh Baptist Church in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane.1

Charlotte Mitchell - Toowong Cemetery

Charlotte Mitchell – Toowong Cemetery

Charlotte’s grave was very easy to find, in the end. It is in an area which, thankfully after all those hills, is easily accessible and there are not a lot of plots.

Area surrounding Mitchell Plot - Toowong Cemetery

Area surrounding Mitchell Plot – Toowong Cemetery

However, Charles’ was not so easy to find…

Charlotte Mitchell Headstone close-up - Toowong Cemetery

Charlotte Mitchell Headstone close-up – Toowong Cemetery

As you can see, only Charlotte’s name appears on the headstone which reads:

In Loving Memory
my dear wife and our mother
Charlotte Mitchell
Died 26th July 1939, Aged 56 Years.

At Rest.

…But where is Charles? He passed away on 2 May 19512 and, according to the Brisbane City Council (BCC) online Grave Location search, Charlotte and Charles were buried in the same plot. But only Charlotte’s details are on the headstone, though there is room for Charles as well. Another mystery.


The other plot I was able to find was for the sister of my husband’s 2 x great grandmother. A rather distant relationship, I know, but you never know what extra tidbits of information you might find, like birthplace and so on.

So, to make it a bit clearer, my husband’s 2 x great grandmother was Martha Letitia CROFT who married James EALING on 5 November 1877 at the General Registry Office in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.3

Martha’s family story is a bit convoluted but interesting, especially with regards to her parents, but I will leave that for another post as it needs a whole post to give it justice.

But, basically, Martha was born on 28 February 1855 at 20 Wyndham Street, Marylebone, Middlesex, England to Thomas Holloway CROFT and Louisa CROFT nee ROCK.4 She had 3 sisters and one brother: Louisa Emma, Clara Eugenie, Emily Elizabeth and Thomas Stephen GJG.

The headstone I found belonged to Martha’s sister, Louisa Emma CROFT. Louisa married Robert James SIMPSON in Brisbane in 1878.5

Simpson Plot - Toowong Cemetery - Taken 27 May 2015

Simpson Plot – Toowong Cemetery – Taken 27 May 2015

You can just see that there is something extra at the base of the main headstone but you can also see that the concrete on top of the plot is broken and very unstable. I couldn’t see what was on the extra stone at the base.

But here is a close up of the main headstone…

Close-up of Headstone - Simpson Plot - Toowong Cemetery

Close-up of Headstone – Simpson Plot – Toowong Cemetery

Notice that Louisa’s husband, Robert James SIMPSON, died in a tragic accident. His entry on the headstone reads:

In Fond and Loving Memory
our dear father
who lost his life
through the capsizing of a whale boat
between Double Island Point, and Noosa,
28th May 1918,
aged 65 years 11 months.

Wow. Hmmm. It would be interesting to know more details about this accident. He was almost 65 years old. Why was he in a whale boat? Surely such an accident must have been reported in the newspapers? Where to look? Why, where else but the National Library of Australia’s online digital database, Trove, and guess what I found?

Fatality at Double Island Point. (1918, June 20). The Northern Herald (Cairns, Qld. : 1913 - 1939), p. 7. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from

Fatality at Double Island Point. (1918, June 20). The Northern Herald (Cairns, Qld. : 1913 – 1939), p. 7. Retrieved June 15, 2015, from

I had assumed from the headstone that Robert had drowned but was surprised to find from the newspaper article that he appeared to have died of heart failure instead after being carried ashore. Notice that the article says he is 67 years of age while his headstone is a specific “Aged 65 years 11 months”.

Also notice that on the headstone is their daughter “Alice CLOHERTY”. Any connection to the Captain CLOHERTY mentioned in the article about her father’s death? Possibly…

Another quick check of Trove and I found some marriage notices and articles which showed that on 7 January 1909 in Brisbane,  Alice SIMPSON married Mr Valentine Cecil CLOHERTY of the Marine Department and eldest son of Mr James A. CLOHERTY, though some notices call him “Capt. James A CLOHERTY”.6,7

However, Capt. CLOHERTY could just as easily be Captain Thomas Alfred CLOHERTY, who was in the Brisbane Pilot Service and later Harbourmaster for the Port of Brisbane. Capt. Thomas Alfred CLOHERTY was apparently brother to James A. CLOHERTY and therefore uncle of Valentine.8,9

Despite being in the Marine Department, it is unlikely that it could have been Valentine as he was the lighthouse keeper at Goode Island in the Thursday Islands from 1916 until he died there in 1927.10 Which is also probably why his wife, Alice CLOHERTY nee SIMPSON, was buried in her parent’s plot.

Definitively confirming a link between the families and the “Capt. CLOHERTY” of the article would require more work than the quick bit of digging around I have done. But if there is a link, it somehow makes it even more tragic. Imagine being related, even by marriage, and having to tell his wife what happened. As it was, Louisa died just 2 ½ months after Robert.

In the Simpson plot is another, smaller headstone for Louisa Mildred COSTA who died on 1st June 1953:

CostaHeadstone CostaHeadstone_Closeup

Who was Louisa Mildred COSTA? A quick dash over to the Queensland Birth, Death and Marriage online index, put in the details from the headstone to find her death entry, and  the result shows that Louisa is the daughter of Robert James SIMPSON and Louisa Emma SIMPSON nee CROFT.

Just like Charlotte MITCHELL nee EALING, there is a space on her headstone for her husband, but it has not been completed. The difference appears to be that he was not buried in the same plot, according to the Brisbane City Council grave location search, unlike Charlotte and Charles MITCHELL.

Lots of interesting BSOs! But it all shows how headstones can take you on a fascinating family research adventure.

If anyone has any ideas why one person may appear on a headstone and not another, even though buried later and in the same plot, I would love to hear them.



Queensland, Australia, marriage certificate no 1903/2322 (1903), Mitchell-Ealing; Registrar-General, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane.

Queensland, Australia, Death Register, 1951: B32004, Charles Edward Mitchell; Registrar-General, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane.

Queensland, Australia, Marriage Register, 1877: 5823, Ealing-Croft; Registrar-General, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Brisbane.

England, certified copy of entry in Register of Births for Martha Letitia Croft born 28 February 1855; citing March [quarter] 1855, 1A/410/428, Marylebone registration district; General Register Office, England.

“Queensland, Marriage Historical Index: 1829-1940,” database, Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, Queensland Government ( accessed 15 June 2015), marriage entry for Robert Simpson and Louisa Emma Croft, 1878; citing 1878/B5949.

WEDDING. (1909, January 11). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 7. Retrieved June 14, 2015, from

Family Notices. (1909, January 16). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 4. Retrieved June 14, 2015, from

Family Notices. (1925, June 5). Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936), p. 5 Edition: SECOND EDITION–3 p.m.. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from

OBITUARY. Captain T. A. Cloherty. (1931, March 2). The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933), p. 14. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from

10 THURSDAY ISLAND NOTES. (1927, July 13). Townsville Daily Bulletin (Qld. : 1907 – 1954), p. 11. Retrieved June 16, 2015, from

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13 Responses to Toowong Cemetery: So, What Did I Find?

  1. David O says:

    Sorry but i dont know your name so you will have to forgive me, Im David decendant of the Outhwaite line My GGG Grand mother whos married Name was Hoare and after the passing of her husband James Hoare married Cloherty. and you will find a Urn Vase on the family grave ( To Aunty Alice) david


    • Hi David,
      Thank you so much for your message. A mystery solved! I wondered what was at the base of the main headstone. What an extensive family tree all in the one plot! It is wonderful how family trees can get so interwoven.


  2. Cherie Leburn says:

    Hello My name is Cherie Leburn ( nee Johnson) – I am 71 years old so family stories told to me by my grandmother and my mother as the third generation.
    I found your blog while researching my family which I have only just started to do. I had to write to you when I read my Great Grandfather’s name.
    My Great Grandfather was Captain Thomas A Cloherty – Appointed Harbour Master and Senior Pilot of the Port of Brisbane Sept 11 1911 –
    I know he was held in high regard and was a great seaman – Born and raised in Galway Ireland, Was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s medal for rescue of another Captain off Moreton Island, among other feats.
    At one time he lived, with his wife and family of 12 children on Morton Island, one of which was my Grandmother Winifred Cloherty. My grandmother was the first white child born on the island
    The brumbies of Moreton Island ( long gone now) were the descendants of horses my G.Grandfather turned loose when he and his family left the island to live in Brisbane.
    Winifred Cloherty married Napier Newman, an Englishman, who was state manager of Dalgerty’s Stock & Station Agents.
    My mother Winifred Newman, was her second child and first of 2 daughters daughters .The eldest was a son Napier Newman, who like his father, my grandfather, and my aunty Joan, died of kidney failure in their early 40’s – Napier Jrn’s only child, a daughter also died from kidney failure early – so that line of Newmans had no sons live long enough to carry on the family name.
    They are all resting at Toowong Cemetery. (My mother lived into her early 70’s )
    As I understand most of my mother’s family are buried at Toowong Cemetery both Cloherty and Newman
    Thank you for reading this and I would enjoy hearing of any connect that I and mine might have with other families you have researched

    Kindest regards
    Cherie Leburn


    • Hi Cherie,
      Sorry, I just discovered your lovely message in the spam queue which hasn’t happened before!
      Thank you for filling in some background on the Cloherty family. Your great grandfather sounds like a wonderful man. You have a lot of history there and some great stories which you should definitely write down in detail. I wonder what it was like living on Moreton Island at the time – and with 12 children!? And I had no idea there used to be brumbies there – despite living in Brisbane for so long. Unfortunately, I haven’t found any other connections to the Cloherty or Newman families in my research so far. But I definitely encourage you to continue your research and write up your stories. Thank you for sharing them!


      • Kerry says:

        Hi Cherie There are a lot of Clohertys. Many of them were connected with the sea. As far as I am aware Winnie marrried a James Cloherty.They had four children. Three did not survive a fire. One boy aged 6 lived. I do not know where Newman fits into to the picure.


    • Kerry says:

      I am connected to the Cloherty family through my mother. There was a a Captain Cloherty who was a well respected pilot and Captain.One of his children and was Zanna Bela Cloherty. She was my great grandmother. She marrried Isaac Campbell. They had 10 children. Issac Viictor Campbell was killed in action in France world war one. There were 5 other cousins mentioned and wondering if any were Cloherty. from Bridbane


    • Kerry says:

      Thank your for the reply. Yes your answer filled I’m some gaps. Majority of Clohertys were lighthouse keepers, Valentine Cloherty was related to the famous Captain Thhomas Cloherty. There was a William Cloherty . He had one daughter. He had a log book and planned to write a book about his life as a light house keeper, I am related to all of the above people vi marriage. Not Simpson.


    • Kerry says:

      That is fascinating information My great grandmother was a Zanna Bella Cloherty She married Isaac Campbell. The above are her brothers.I understand the Clohertys were a very close family Thomasl Cloherty was the eldest brother


    • Kerry says:

      Hi Cherie You will find that names such as James and Valentine were handed down through the families which is why the research can be confusing A Valentine Cloherty did work as a lighthouse keeper. on Thursday Island, His wife worked in the Chinese shanty. a town. When World War 2 broke out islanders had to flee As result of the war there are no early records of islanders who lived there. I would be interested in knowing more about Winifred Cloherty.


  3. Pingback: #CemeteryDay – Toowong Cemetery | Family Fractals

  4. Lyndall Shields says:

    Hello, I am related to Robert James Simpson who was the lighthouse superintendent on Moreton Island.Robert and Louisa Croft had 8 children and lived on Moreton Island till he retired about two years before his death when from what I have been told he was helping out Cloherty when the accident that claimed his life happend. The Cloherty and the Simpson family were close friends. There is a connection with the Cloherty family in that Robert’s second daughter Alice Simpson married Capt. Cloherty third son Valentine Cecil Cloherty (1882-1927) in 1909. There is an article about the wedding on Trove – The Brisbane Courier (Qld. : 1864 – 1933) Mon 11 Jan 1909 Page 7. I hope this helps fill in the gaps for you.


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