Funerary consumption in the second half of the 19th century in Brisbane, Queensland

Maclean, Hilda (2015). Funerary consumption in the second half of the 19th century in Brisbane, Queensland PhD Thesis, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland. doi:10.14264/uql.2015.932

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Author Maclean, Hilda
Thesis Title Funerary consumption in the second half of the 19th century in Brisbane, Queensland
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution The University of Queensland
DOI 10.14264/uql.2015.932
Publication date 2015-10-09
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Jonathan Prangnell
Glenys McGowan
Total pages 290
Language eng
Subjects 210108 Historical Archaeology (incl. Industrial Archaeology)
210303 Australian History (excl. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander History)
Formatted abstract
A plume decked hearse drawn by a pair of black horses is one of the most enduring and familiar images of the Victorian era. Death is universal yet little is really known about the business behind consigning the dead to the earth in our not so distant past. This thesis examines the consumption of funerary goods and services in Brisbane, the capital of the colony of Queensland, Australia between 1859 and 1901. Using a consumer behaviour theoretical framework, the consumption choices made by three categories of funerary consumers; individuals, institutions and intermediaries are examined. In this thesis, institutions are the facilities where deaths occurred and the consumption was made by corporate bodies. The intermediaries are the undertakers who facilitated and mediated the purchases made by the other two categories, while being consumers of goods and services in their own right. As existing consumption models do not adequately address all of these categories, a new model for funerary consumption is proposed.

This research project developed from the 2000 – 2002 archaeological salvage excavation of the former North Brisbane Burial Grounds (NBBG) which operated between 1843 and 1875. A number of artefacts were recovered from 397 burials, providing a subset of funerary goods that were actually consumed but not the total range and value of goods which were available for purchase at the time. Documentary evidence was sought as to the origin and cost of these goods in an attempt to learn more about the consumption choices made by Brisbane residents. However, an incomplete documentary record meant that disparate strands of evidence were scrutinised together, and to assist in that process the archaeological record and existing models of consumption were examined.

This thesis answers the question: What factors influenced the consumption of funerary goods and services in Brisbane in the last half of the 19th century? All surviving undertakers’ records in the location and period were examined for evidence of consumption. These were cross-referenced with existing cemetery records and sorted by grave class allowing for the consumption of individuals to be grouped. As a single grave class was exclusively used by institutional consumers, this allowed for these burials to be examined separately, showing a different process of institutional acquisition of burial services to those funerals arranged by the family and friends of the deceased.

The Funerary Consumption Model (FCM) was developed to show the consumption pattern of both individual and institutional consumers, with the intermediary (i.e. the undertaker) mediating their purchasing decisions. Then the factors which influence consumer decision making processes e.g. marketing, reference groups etc. were added to the model. The FCM can also be applied to the consumption of funerary services in other jurisdictions and time periods.
Keyword Victorian era
Funerary Consumption Model
Coffin furniture

Document type: Thesis
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Created: Wed, 07 Oct 2015, 15:57:59 EST by Miss Hilda Maclean on behalf of Scholarly Communication and Digitisation Service