To have a village named after yourself, or at least known locally in your families’ name, usually means you made significant contributions to the social and economic life of the area. That seems to be the case with my 4X-grandfather (on my maternal grandmother’s side) William Taylor and his family who settled at Charleyong, near Braidwood after arriving in Australia in 1852 on board the Hydaspers.
According to a plaque dedicated to this small rural village at the Braidwood Cemetery; “Charleyong, originally known as Taylor`s village, was a flourishing alluvial mining and agricultural settlement from about 1854 until the early years of the twentieth century. William Taylor`s store at the heart of the settlement, sold general provisions and diggers equipment. There was a butcher next door. In March 1871 the storekeeper also became the Postmaster. The store and Post Office survived until the late 1890`s when, the gold being worked out, miners and their families were leaving the district. The Charleyong Union Chapel and its surrounding cemetery were for the use of the Church of England, Presbyterian, Baptist and Wesleyan / Methodist denominations.”
It is in the cemetery that was once attached to this long since destroyed church that four of my direct ancestors rest in unmarked graves. The names of those ancestors are William Taylor (1808-1992), Alfred Taylor (1836-1872), Elizabeth Taylor (1810-1885) and George Boland/Bowland (1798-1878).
In fact, it is reported that there are 51 such unmarked graves at this location. A steel frame around a single grave, some fence wire and a rather out-of-place Buxus hedge are all that are left to give away the abandoned cemetery’s location.
William Taylor represents my most southerly ‘roaming’ ancestor and, along with the four mentioned above, are some of only a handful that are buried outside of the County of King, New South Wales. Even today, with its ever-expanding sealed approaching roads and increasingly populated countryside, this place seems remote and lonely. In contrast, according to a number of accounts, it was apparently a thriving and important settlement serving the Mongarlowe Goldfields nearby.
The references to William Taylor as a store owner above are likely to be that of William Taylor (senior’s) son, William Thomas Taylor who has been noted at storekeeper and postmaster. It is unclear if William junior followed in his father’s footsteps in these roles or if William Taylor senior was otherwise employed. In a local obituary, it is noted that considerable amounts of gold were carried from the Charleyong Store to Braidwood in the villages hayday.
As the location of this past village and cemetery now fall within private land owned by the Sydney Catchment Authority, and visitation is discouraged, a memorial to those who were buried at Charleyong has been constructed within the grounds of the Braidwood Cemetery (as seen below).
Australian Cemetery Index: Cemetery 1257 – Charleyong, available at: http://austcemindex.com/cemetery?cemid=1257
From Mists to Sunshine: Whittington family history, by D.Layden
Monument Australia: Charleyong Burials, available at: http://monumentaustralia.org.au/themes/culture/community/display/20505-charleyong-burials
New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage, Marlow Village and Cemetery (Taylors), available at: http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=2920254
New South Wales Roads and Maritime Services, Charleyong Bridge Replacement, Review of Environmental Factors, Appendix F, available at: http://www.rms.nsw.gov.au/documents/projects/south-coast/charleyong-bridge/charleyong-bridge-ref-appendix-f.pdf