Headstone "Mary Erskine"; 1878; QS2007.34


Sydney Quarantine Station Moveable Heritage Collection


Headstone "Mary Erskine"

About this object

This is the headstone of Mary Erskine, who arrived in Port Jackson on the immigrant ship La Hogue. She died from measles at the Quarantine Station on 31 October 1878, aged 13 months. The La Hogue arrived in Port Jackson on 21 October 1878 and was quarantined for a total of 23 days; the primary reason for the quarantine was measles.
Four children, aged between 6 and 14 months, died during the quarantine of the La Hogue, two from measles, the other two from unknown causes. In addition, a 33-year-old woman also died during the quarantine period, due to “other” causes, which include non-quarantinable diseases (such as tuberculosis and pneumonia), illnesses with descriptions such as “wasting” or “diarrhoea”, and complications related to childbirth. They were buried in the Second Burial Ground.
This headstone is historically significant, as it has interpretive potential for telling the story of later-nineteenth century immigration. Generally, the number of deaths occurring on the immigrant ships and during the quarantine periods was greatly decreased; however, we are still seeing the greater susceptibility of children on board the immigrant ships to various diseases, and the difficult nature of the voyage in general.
This headstone is representative of headstones of this historical period, as the wording of the inscription appears to be typical for this period.
It holds social, or spiritual, significance not only for people at the time it was erected, but also today. For the people who erected the stone, it was socially/spiritually significant as a personal memorial to a loved one. However, headstones, or grave markers, continue to be socially significant to later generations who never knew the person, as demonstrated by the fact that this headstone (along with several others) was removed from the ground and placed under shelter to protect it from weather damage. Additionally, descendants of persons who died at the Quarantine Station remain in contact with the Station to this day, enquiring after the condition of their ancestors’ grave and headstone, and seeking to arrange a visit.

Date Made


Medium and Materials


Inscription and Marks

To the Memory of
Mary ErsKine
who departed this
life O(ct ___) age(___)
one year and (_) days
Ship La Hogue

Object Type


Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved



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