This is a short history of Mays Hill cemetery. Is is covered in greater depth in the Mays Hill Cemetery Conservation Plan 2002, prepared by Siobhan Lavelle
What we now know as Mays Hill Cemetery was originally two separate cemeteries. In 1839 an area of 1 acre in the old Police Horse Resting Paddocks on the Western border of Parramatta town was set aside as a cemetery for members of the Presbyterian faith. The first burial was Elizabeth McKay, who died on 9th October 1843. The first 10 years of operation saw thirty four burials.
Baptist Services were preached in the area from 1838, however the Baptist cause did not flourish until the arrival of pastor William Carey. The Baptist cemetery, an area of 1 acre adjoining the Presbyterian cemetery was set aside in 1850, that same year a foundation stone for a chapel was laid in George Street. Although William Carey is the first entry in the burial register, this was a memorial service rather than a burial. He was originally buried in the Devonshire Street cemetery and his headstone was erected there first. The first burial was Arthur Stapleton, a 16 month old child, buried 8th December 1853. There were 5 burials in the first decade.
Both cemeteries were operated as separate entities, each with their own trustees and separately fenced.
The remainder of the Police Resting Paddocks were subdivided in 1857 and part of the Government Domain in 1859. Thomas May, a prominent businessman and innkeeper bought a house block on the newly released Domain lands and build a home there. The area gradually became known as May's Hill.
An acre of land between the Western Road and the Presbyterian cemetery was dedicated as a Congregational cemetery on May 5, 1876. The ground was never used for this purpose. Congregational burials are recorded in both the Baptist and Presbyterian cemetery records.
The cemeteries were administered by the relevant trustees until 1977 when the 5 surviving members of the Mays Hill Cemetery Presbyterian Trust wrote to Holroyd Council notifying them that they were no longer Presbyterian but Uniting and resigned their trusteeship.
In 1988 the Baptist Church notified Holroyd Council that they had removed to Northmead and no longer had an interest in retaining the cemetery, nor could they raise Trustees.
The cemetery was classified by the National Trust in 1979 due to its historical significance to the district and its intact layout with Victorian picket fence, plantings and memorials. Holroyd Council realised the importance of the cemetery and in 1980 voted funds to build a new lynchgate and renew the fence. Unfortunately this destroyed one of the reasons the cemetery had been listed.