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William Edgar Gillard

See also: his death certificate; his elder son William; his younger son David; his wife Ethel; her father William Samuel Hill. Click on any image to see it at a larger size.

William Edgar Gillard (1873-1906) was the son of Robert Dyer Gillard and Martha McGrath (her fifth and last child) and he was the husband of Ethel May Hill (Gillard/Hogarth) and my paternal grandfather.

He was born in 1873 in Richmond, Victoria. He was a plumber, according to my father, but on Dad's death certificate it has him as a 'sheet metal worker'. According to the Coates' book (see below) he died 24 November 1906, aged 33 - at Murrin Murrin, and was buried at Yundamindera. They also record that he was a plumber, was born at Richmond, the son of Robert Gillard (clerk) and Margaret McGrath, and married Ethel May Hill at Kookynie when he was 30. All of that information is exactly as on his death certificate, so I assume they must have obtained a copy.

Only one photograph of him exists, taken the year before he died, as he is holding his elder son William Robert (born April 1904) while his wife, Ethel May Hill, is holding my infant father, David Michael (born 23 May 1905).

Almost everything I know about him comes from an audio recording recorded by me of my father speaking in December 1981, so I'll let him tell it in his own words.

Dave Gillard:
When he [WEG] came over from Melbourne—somewhere just after 1900, I think [probably more like 1895]—he built a house, a brick house in Cleaver St West Perth.  He had a 66 foot frontage and built the house on 33 feet.  Now the rent from that place was to go towards building a house on the other 33 foot frontage for me—one house for my brother, one house for me—however not long after that he went up into the goldfields with my uncle Bob Raftis and grandfather Mr Billy Hill.  I don't know whether he was searching for gold or not, I don't know, but he was a master plumber, and I think making tanks and cyanide vats and the like, and he also repaired bicycles—everybody outback had a bicycle.
Then when he died—he died out there beyond Leonora—at a place called Yundamindra;  and I remember seeing—I'm not sure whether it was a death certificate or not—but the thing said [de]hydration and dysentery and things like that, so it must have been the lousy water that they were drinking out there or something of that nature to cause his death.  [The death certificate gives the cause of death as 'pulmonary phthisis diarrhoea exhaustion'.] He was apparently—or so I have been told by the Raftis girls, and they'd been told by their father Bob Raftis—that he was a very good man.  He was a very strict Catholic, and he had promised my mother [ie. 'got my mother to promise'?] to bring us up in the Catholic faith.  Well she did her best, although she only turned Catholic to marry him.  The Hills were Church of England. ... When my father died my mother had to work of course and we were brought to Melbourne to live for quite some time. [excerpt ends]

Ethel May Hill was born in Adelaide in 1885, and would have been living on the goldfields with her father, William Samuel Hill, and remaining siblings, and I assume would have met William Edgar there. When Ethel's mother Margaret Roberts Hill died [here is her death certificate] on 4 October 1901, and was buried in Yundamindera Cemetery, only four of her at least seven children were still alive: Beatrice Harriet, Leslie, Ethel (aged 16), and Elizabeth Mary - known in our family as Elsie. Ethel's father and mother Margaret Roberts were Church of England. Margaret Roberts was of Welsh descent, tho Adrian Spall has informed me that she was born in Emerald Hill (now South Melbourne). At the time of Ethel May's birth, William Samuel Hill was with the Water Police in Port Darwin, NT, then called Palmerston.

Ethel May married WEG two years later, aged 18. According to a note my father left they were married in Perth, at St Bridget's West Perth, by Father Fagan. But an entry in the book More Lonely Graves of Western Australia says that they were married in Kookynie. The Coates also write that WEG died at Murrin Murrin - tho I have read elsewhere that he died at Mt Margaret (which is not far away). And they record that he was buried at Yundamindera. Alex Palmer [below] tells us that there is no grave marker. There are only two graves marked in any way at Yundamindera Cemetery, and Palmer writes that he assumes that one of them is that of Margaret Roberts Hill and that it was marked (tho not carved) and tended by Billy Hill.

I don't know where the elder of William Edgar's sons was born: I'm assuming the Yundamindra area for William Robert, but my father's birth certificate says he (DMG) was born in Perth. William Robert and his mother Ethel May are buried in the same grave in Karrakatta Cemetery. It's in an area that's been 'renewed', and not only is there no headstone (I'm guessing there never was one) the exact position of the grave is not to be seen, as there has been another burial at ROEC 009. The cemetery records have Ethel May's name spelt incorrectly, as Ethel May Hogartt [sic]. To get this changed, I would have to show them something like birth and/or death certificates.

In the Cemetery records, the 'grantee' of the original plot (which expired 29 Nov 1962) is one Elizabeth Mary Lynch. I now believe that this was Ethel's younger sister, whom we knew in our family as 'Elsie', and that the first burial in the plot was that of her son Thomas Mathew [sic] Lynch, aged 0 years, having died 5 November 1912. Elizabeth Mary (b. 1891) married one T. [Thomas?] M. Lynch, so probably she provided the gravesite (she bought for her son) for Ethel in 1919 and then again for Will in 1927.

It's very striking that tho Ethel Hogarth is buried in the RC section (having converted to Catholicism to marry WEG) her second husband's - Fletcher Hogarth's - remains are something like half a kilometre away, in the Presbyterian section. His grave is also unmarked, at FA 585.

David Michael Gillard's body was cremated at Karrakatta shortly after 4 October 1982 and his ashes 'scattered to the winds at Karrakatta Cemetery'.


Coate, Yvonne E. & Kevin Coate, More Lonely Graves of Western Australia, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 2000.

Palmer, Alex, Yundamindra: Its Towns, Mines, People and Station, Hesperian Press, Carlisle, WA, 2006.


Many thanks to Adrian Spall, particularly for information about the Hill family.

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