William Fairley arrived in Sydney cove with his sisters and free settler parents in 1855 as an intelligent ten year old from County Tyrone, Ireland.
Fairley Memorials throughout St Marks Churchyard indicate the involvement and commitment to their new community and Church. The Fairleys have continued to farm in the valleys and hills to the West of Picton, and on the Razorback Range, with each of seven generations adding a new stage of agriculture to our rural area.
Contributions to the dairy industry, with the present Fairley generations of John and son Thomas creating the Country Valley Milk label have earned a high quality reputation throughout the Sydney Basin, The Illawarra, and Canberra. A family tradition has always been to support every local organisation needing a backing.
This large grave site with two white Italian marble headstones, is a tribute to William and wife Letitia, and to their twenty year old son John, who was accidently shot near Tenterfield in 1890, where he had been appointed as a teacher. His mourning father brought John’s body back to Picton to rest in peace with his family.
The superbly sculpted marble by an unknown monumental mason, has many symbols beloved by Victorians to bring the rites of death and mourning to a high art form. Some symbols are ancient, such as the shell that means fertility and resurrection. The beautifully carved flowers, possibly daisies, show the innocence of young people who have not yet lived their lives. On the side there are clean scrolls showing that John’s life has not been written.
The small sandstone headstones of George and James, beside the larger marble ones, are dedicated to three infants born at a time when hospitals and doctors were beyond reach. The unnamed baby grave was the stillborn twin of Councillor Edward (Ted) Fairley who was Letitia and Williams grandson.
Unrecorded children belonging to William and Letitia, were teachers Florence Hides, who married in Batlow, and brother William, who was Head Teacher in North Sydney. Two sisters, Maggie and Catherine (Sis) were spinsters.
William Fairley was the first of three family members elected to serve in local Council, with his photo outside the Picton Town Hall in 1915.