Position Statement 003

Where was William Holmes Hamilton (1820-1916) buried?

Position Statement adopted by the K.I.P.A. executive committee 6 June 2016.


Some contemporary accounts [1] purport that William Holmes Hamilton (senior) (W.H.H.) is buried in Kingscote Cemetery, in an unmarked grave. Along with other matters concerning W.H.H., a sub-committee was set up to investigate the available evidence and to report back to the executive committee [2]. Their deliberations, and subsequent research resulted in the executive committee adopting this position statement.

The Lions Club of Kingscote has recently completed a “Kingscote Heritage Cemetery Project 2014” which resulted in a headstone being erected for “William Holmes Hamilton 7.2.1820-25.12.1916” in Kingscote Cemetery purporting that he is buried at that location [3].

Primary Evidence

There is no extant primary evidence that W.H.H. was buried at Kingscote Cemetery.

Secondary Evidence

There is no authoritative secondary evidence that the W.H.H. was buried at Kingscote Cemetery.

A man named William Holmes Hamilton died in Adelaide in a hospital on 25th December 1916.[4]

A man named William Hamilton was buried at West Terrace Cemetery on the 29th December 1916, and was not exhumed or removed [5].


It seems W.H.H. travelled from Kangaroo Island to Adelaide late November 1916 for medical treatment, was admitted to Adelaide Hospital where he died, and was subsequently buried in West Terrace Cemetery.

This is a summary of the Adelaide Hospital records [6]: William Hamilton , age 96, CofE, widower, born England, residing Kangaroo Island was admitted 30/11/16 through emergency (no doctor's name like other entries) and discharged 7/12/16 with the notation "To CB" (2 weeks before his death) with epithelioma of the hand (skin cancer?) “CB” is the “Cancer Block” a section of the Adelaide Hospital, and possibly had its own admission and discharge records.

The West Terrace Cemetery Authority has provided the following:

Interment Right # WP27960

Section R5X (Road 5 Extension)

Row# C9

Site# 20

Site expired 31.12.1999

“This is a paupers’ site which has a number of other interments that were placed about the same time. Our records show William Hamilton was placed in this site on the 29 December 1916 but there are no records of any family contact or Funeral Director information and no information regarding exhumations for this site.” [5]

It is difficult to understand why W.H.H. was buried in a “paupers’ grave” apparently without family present. After all, he was an eminent and well regarded Kangaroo Island citizen [7] and his probate was 60 pounds [8]. However, we need to acknowledge that this was war time, the logistics of removing a body to Kangaroo Island would have been difficult, and that it was in summer and a prompt burial was imperative. Perhaps the hospital authorities were not able to communicate with the family for instructions? Also, his son William Holmes Hamilton junior was facing financial problems about that time [9]. WHH was insolvent much earlier in 1866 [10].

His death notice indicates his residence to be the Destitute Asylum – this might be because it was his emergency accommodation after arrival from Kangaroo Island, before going into hospital.

Concerning the absence of secondary evidence of W.H.H. being buried at Kingscote Cemetery, the Kangaroo Island Council advised that there is no mention of William Holmes Hamilton (senior) in their cemetery records [11].


The sub-committee of the Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association charged with investigating the evidence, could not find a consensus as to where W.H.H. was buried. However, ongoing research has shown that there is no primary or authoritative secondary evidence to support that W.H.H. was buried at Kingscote Cemetery.

Authoritative secondary evidence shows that it is almost certain that William Holmes Hamilton (snr) was buried at West Terrace Cemetery.


[1] The Islander, 6 Feb 2014, "Unmarked but not unloved" http://www.theislanderonline.com.au/story/2070565/unmarked-but-not-unloved/

also The Islander, 16 April 2015, "150 unmarked graves named" page 3.

[2] View the collaborative website of the sub-committee showing their deliberations, and all sources https://sites.google.com/site/whhamiltonsubcommittee/home/ . (You will be asked to register.)

[3] Kingscote cemetery, March 2016, photo by Anthea Taylor

[4] South Australian Genealogical and Heraldry Association, https://www.genealogysa.org.au Text: Given Name(s): William Last Name: HAMILTON Death Date: 25 Dec 1916 Gender: M Age: 96y Approx. Birth Year: 1820 Marital Status: N Relative 1: Relative 2: Residence: Kangaroo Island Death Place: Adelaide District: Adelaide Symbol: H Book/Page: 407/33

[5] West Terrace Cemetery Authority, 29 March 2016, email correspondence with Chris Ward.

[6] S.A. Government Records, GRG78/50, Discharge Register Adelaide Hospital 1869-1923

[7] A COLONIST OF 73 YEARS. (1910, July 29). Daily Herald (Adelaide, SA : 1910 - 1924), , p. 3. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article103892185

[8] PROBATES GRANTED. (1928, September 7). Blyth Agriculturist (SA : 1908 - 1954), p. 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article215178900

[9] A FARMER'S INSOLVENCY. (1909, October 20). Port Pirie Recorder and North Western Mail (SA : 1898 - 1918), , p. 3. Retrieved April 3, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article95471741

[10] Insolvency Notices (1866, March 28). The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), p. 3. Retrieved April 8, 2016, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article28786167

[11] Jan Sundberg, Customer Service & Library Officer, Kangaroo Island Council, email correspondence with David Wilson 25 January 2016