New South Wales Police Force
Regd. # ?
Service: From ? to ?
Died on: ? between 1792 – 1820
Funeral date: ?
Funeral location: ?
Buried at: ?
Funeral location: on the site of the present site of the Sydney Town Hall. Exhumed in 1869 & interred at Rookwood Cemetery, Lidcombe.
Mystery solved in time for Police Remembrance Day
- The Daily Telegraph
- September 28, 2007
MORE than 200 years after Constable Joseph Luker was bashed to death while investigating a robbery near a Sydney brothel, the officer’s grave has finally been found again.
With the discovery of Constable Luker‘s original grave under Town Hall, the police have solved a Sydney mystery over the burial site of the first officer in Sydney to die on duty.
As the force prepares to commemorate fallen officers on Police Remembrance Day today, the story of Constable Luker’s final resting place can finally be told.
After years searching graveyard records, recent excavations under the Town Hall have revealed Constable Luker was buried in the Old Sydney Burial Ground, which was used from 1792 to 1820. Constable Luker’s grave was marked “assassinated“.
Records show the bodies of three policemen, including Constable Luker, were exhumed in 1869 when building began on the Town Hall site and they were interred at Rookwood Cemetery in Sydney’s west.
“It is important to police as an organisation that we ensure we honour and pay respect to those who have served before us and that is why we have continued to search for Joseph Luker’s burial place,” Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said yesterday.
“Joseph Luker paid the highest price for protecting the citizens of the then fledgling colony. No organisation should ever forget the sacrifices of its staff.”
Constable Luker was on a midnight patrol after a spate of burglaries near prostitute Mary Breeze’s brothel in Phillip St, then known as Back Row, east Sydney Town, in August 1803.
He had been beaten to death and his cutlass guard was wedged in his skull when his body was found near Macquarie St.
In one of the first scandals to rock the police, two of his colleagues were suspected but were never convicted.
A message to his killers was posted on his headstone at the Town Hall site telling them: “My midnight vigils are no more, Cold Sleep and Peace succeed . . . But when my murderers appear, before JEHOVAH’s Throne, Mine will be to vanquish there, And theirs t’endure alone.”
The 35-year-old was a convict who served seven years transportation before joining a fledgling police force.
Mr Scipione urged people to wear a blue ribbon on the right-hand side of their shirt today to show support for police. He said remembering lost officers was a way to offer continued support and comfort to their families.
“It means we will never forget their courage and sacrifice,” he added.