Matthew Rogers vault in the Blackwood Cemetery.

MATTHEW ROGERS’ VAULT IN BLACKWOOD CEMETERY

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A grave worth mentioning in the Blackwood cemetery is a big vault which is the largest monument erected in the cemetery. The coffins inside are on shelves in lead lined coffins. The monument is said to be made from grey Scotch granite, and the angels carved from white Italian Carrarra marble, with the base made from polished Harcourt granite with an area of 30 square feet. The angels on the four corners of the monument are beautifully carved and give back to Blackwood something to admire from the gold it gave to pay for it. Matthew Rogers had the monument built before any of his family had died, at a reputed cost of £1,000 ($2,000 in 1896).

In an article written by John Drayton in ‘Smith’s Weekly’ July 26th 1924, he stated “A tribute to bygone greatness of the field, is the tomb of the Rogers family, the marble for which was imported from Italy to make it one of the most costly memorials of a pioneer and his family that has been erected on any goldfield in the Commonwealth.”

The first interment in the vault was that of Mary Rogers, the wife of Matthew Rogers. George Trewhella remembered Mary Rogers, as a little bent woman, dressed in black, who died on the 27th of August 1896, aged 68 years shortly after the monument had just been completed. It was the first funeral that George Trewhella had attended and he remembered the black horses and waiving plumes of the hearse, as it was like nothing he had ever seen before.

Matthew Rogers was born at St. Erth, Cornwall, on 11th June 1824, he came out to Victoria in 1854, and came to Blackwood about 1855.

Matthew and his wife Mary Rogers were well known in Simmons Reef, Blackwood, as being one of the early pioneers.

matthew-rogers   Photo of Matthew Rogers courtesy the B.D.H.S.

Matthew Rogers was a stone-mason by trade and built his house in Simmons Reef from stone quarried from around Bacchus Marsh. The house called ‘St. Erth’, is now the ‘Garden of St. Erth’, a popular garden open to the public with a big variety of plants on display and for sale. The original title was dated 1867, but it is believed the house was built before then. Matthew and Mary Rogers were the wealthiest people in Simmons Reef. Rogers did well in his mine called ‘Mount Rogers Big Hill Mine’. He is stated to have made a fortune out of ore that yielded one and a half pennyweights to the ton. In the 1906 Mines Department Bulletin, it said Rogers had got a record amount of 3,175 oz. of gold to a depth of 200 ft.

Mary Ann Rogers was born in Hayle in Cornwall 24th June 1828. She looked after the store and the Post Office attached to the house. The Rogers had no children, and adopted a girl born in 1872, called Elizabeth.

Matthew Rogers died on the 6th January 1902. The Bacchus Marsh Express said “By the death of Mr. Matthew Rogers, on the 6th January 1902 at the age of 77 years, Blackwood loses one of its most notable pioneers and worthy citizens.

With the death of Mary and then Matthew Rogers, a mining era ended and so with it, the name of the Rogers family in Blackwood, but kept alive with his monument of the Rogers family vault in the Blackwood cemetery.

Other burials in the vault are descendants of the daughter Elizabeth Rogers and her husband James Terrill.

Written by Margot Hitchcock, Historian for the Blackwood & District Historical Society.

More history can be read from books written by Margot Hitchcock – ‘Aspects of Early Blackwood’ and ‘Some History of Simmons Reef, Blackwood’ purchased in Blackwood or from the author  email – margothitchcock@bigpond.com

Grave of Matthew and Mary Rogers and family in the Blackwood cemetery.  

Photo courtesy of Margot Hitchcock, Historian for the Blackwood & District Historical  Society.  2012.