Robert John BirchPrint Page Print this page

Photographs supplied by Russell Byers

A plaque commemorates Robert Birch who accidentally drowned at Clontarf, Middle Harbour in 1865.

The City Coronor held an inquest yesterday at Rhode`s Family Hotel, Forbes-street, Woolloomooloo, on the body of Robert Birch, aged eight years. From the evidence it appeared that the lad was the son of Mr. Birch master of the William and Mary, schooner, and attended St. James' school. He formed one of the scholars who were invited to a picnic at Manly Beach on Thursday. A large number went down, the classes being supervised on the steamer by the several teachers, the whole being superintended by the Rev. Mr. Moreton. On arriving at Manly Beach the scholars were directed to fully enjoy themselves, and were cautioned not to go near the water, nor to straggle away. The deceased, however, according to his mother's evidence, was somewhat headstrong, and would sometimes do that which he was cautioned not to do. He managed, with other boys, to slip away for the purpose of bathing. When in the water he observed two bottles floating, and in the attempt to get at them, went beyond his depth. His juvenile companions were unable to save him, and being alarmed at their own disobedience, abstained from giving the alarm until the lad had been ten minutes or a quarter of an hour under water. One or two teachers stripped, and made every effort to recover the body, while the Rev. Mr. Moreton procured a boat and made search. But the body was not recovered until the pilot boat and a New Zealand crew arrived with grappling irons. The body was taken to the residence of his parents, at 9 p.m. on Thursday, The jury found a verdict of accidentally drowned.
Empire (Sydney), 9 December 1865. 


Address:173 King Street, St. James Anglican Church. South Wall No 40, Sydney, 2000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -33.869486
Long: 151.211172
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:People
Actual Event STart Date:07-December-1865
Actual Event End Date:07-December-1865


Front Inscription

              In Memory of
          Robert John Birch,
Who Was Accidentally Drowned At
Clontarf, Middle Harbour,
Decr 7th A.D. 1865, Aged 8 years.

"In the midst of life we are in death."

This Tablet Is Erected By
The Children Of St James` School
In Affectionate Remembrance
             Of Their
   Beloved School Fellow.

Source: MA,SJ,H
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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