This image is from the City of Sydney's Foundations for a City: Building Sydney Town Hall exhibition

City of Sydney
Click here to close this window
Convict Headstone

Overlying the lid of one of the graves discovered in 1991 was the upper portion of a Georgian headstone, made of Sydney sandstone. Remnants of an inscription were visible:

In Memory of
Eliz Steel died
1795 Aged …

Historical research revealed that the headstone belonged to Elizabeth Steel who arrived in Sydney Cove as a convict on board the ‘Lady Juliana’ on 3 June 1790, aged 23 or 24. At the time of her sentencing authorities described her as being ‘mute by visitation of God’. After two months in Sydney, Elizabeth Steel was transferred to Norfolk Island. In November 1791, Steel married a fellow convict, Irish born James Mackey. Together they successfully farmed a ten acre leasehold until the expiry of their sentences. Steel returned to Sydney in 1794, but died the following year aged 29.

Although this headstone was found above the remains of the vault containing the skeletal remains of a female, forensic tests confirmed that there was no relationship between them. It is thought that the headstone may have fallen from another grave, possibly during the construction of the Town Hall in the late 1860s.

(image: City of Sydney Archives, CRS 904/1126/4 )