03 August 2013

The grave of James and Susanna Ball

The other day my aunt and I visited Rookwood Cemetery to see if we could locate the grave of James and Susanna Ball. They are buried in the Anglican cemetery, section B, in graves 274 and 275. Until recently, there were no good markers in the Anglican section to give you any idea of what the grave numbers were, but a little while ago someone went through and put in little white stakes, with numbers on them at the ends of the rows. SOOO helpful!

We located the right row and walked along but it didn't leap out at us. Closer inspection found it, with the headstone fallen onto the actual grave, though it was at least right-side up, and completely overgrown by grass, bulbs and a couple of camphor laurel saplings. We cleared away the grass and leaves as best we could and attempted to transcribe it. It was very weathered in places, so it took us quite some time to work it all out - we think we've got it all correct!

Sacred to the Memory 
the beloved wife of 
James Ball 
of Botany Road Redfern 
who departed this life 
October 23rd 1871 
aged 57 years 
She hath done what she could. 

Now in a nobler sweeter song 
I sing His power to save, 
Whilst my poor lisping stammering tongue 
Lies silent in the grave.

Also to the memory of 
her four children who died in the City of London 
Thomas John aged 3, Emma aged 2 
Mary Ann aged 2, Arthur Henry 1

Also the above 
James Ball 
who died 7 May 1879 
aged 66 years 
The memory of the just is blessed.

Louis Affriatt 
infant son of 
Henry A and Louisa Wilson 
and grandson of the above 
Died 2nd June 1879 aged 13 months 
Thy will be done

Elsie Louisa Wilson 
Died 27th October 1883 
Aged 16 months

"She hath done what she could" suggests a woman who had a hard life but did her very best under often trying circumstances. Considering Susanna Ball lost four infant children, her husband was in debtors prison for at least two months, and she travelled with her family all the way to the other side of the world to begin a new life in a foreign land, never to return "home", I certainly think she faced some hardship.

The quote in italics is from the hymn "There is a Fountain" by William Cowper. It gives us some idea of what Susanna believed, that once her mortal body died she would be in heaven, singing the praises of her saviour Jesus.


  1. Great deciphering Prue! Lovely words which she richly deserved and family clues you may not have known about with the children.

    1. Yes, I'm so glad I know about those children now. : )