Seventeenth Century Burials

Seventeenth Century Burials (HMCCC)

Location: Boston, MA 02108 Suffolk County
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Country: United States of America
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N 42° 21.455', W 71° 3.712'

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Around you are some of the earliest burials at Granary Burial Ground. "The Oldest Stone" dated 1667 marked the burial of John Wakefield (ca. 1615-1667). Apparently a frugal relative 36 years later had the back of the stone carved for Ann Child (c. 1623-1703), whose daughter married a Wakefield. The nearby stone carries both names.

The Neal Children: The "Oldest Date on a Gravestone" (1666) is that on the marker of four of the children of Andrew (ca. 1624 - 1684) and Melicent Neal (d. 1687): Andrew (d. 1672 aged 18 months), Elizabeth (d. 1666 aged 3 days), Elizabeth (d. 1671 aged 2 weeks), and Hannah (n.d.). It was not unusual for colonial parents to name a new child after one that had died. Andrew Neal was the innkeeper of the Starr Inn.

The James/Allen/Ebenezer Wells Tomb has the "oldest date on a tomb" of 1667. James Allen (1632-1710), minister of the First Church, was "very humble and very rich." He built this tomb and buried his first wife, Hannah (Drummer), here in 1667 when she was 21 years old and his second wife, Elizabeth (Houchin) Endicott (ca. 1638-1673), when she was 35 years old. It is probable that the third Mrs. Allen, Sarah (Hawkins) Breck (1638-1710), was buried here as well.

The Myth of Boston's Mother Goose
Nestled together near a tree are the gravestones of three generations of the Goose/Vergoose family, Mary (Balstin) Goose (ca. 1648-1690) gave birth to at least 10 children with her husband, Isaac Goose (also known as Vergoose) (d. 1710), a carter and scavenger. After Mary Goose's death Isaac married Elizabeth (Foster) of Charleston, who bore him five children. Their daughter, Elizabeth (Goose), married Thomas Fleet (c. 1685-1758), publisher of the Boston Evening Post, whose printing shop was at The Sign of the Heart and Crown. In the 19th century a story circulated that Thomas Fleet was the first publisher of Mother Goose stories and these tales were told by his mother-in-law. No copy of Mother Goose tales published by Thomas Fleet has been found. Though Thomas Fleet is buried near Mary Goose, there is no record that Elizabeth Vergoose, his mother-in-law, is buried at Granary.

The Freake Tomb
The Tomb of Elizabeth and John Freake, showing their coat-of-arms, is another early tomb marked with a slab set in the ground. John and Elizabeth (Clarke) married before 1662 and Elizabeth bore eight children, including Mary, shown with her in the portrait. John was killed in an explosion on a boat in 1675. Elizabeth remarried to Elisha Hutchinson in 1677 and bore another six children, while raising the surviving children from both of their marriages. Elizabeth died in 1713 at the age of 71 and joined John in their tomb. Elisha Hutchinson died in 1717 and was buried with his wife and her first husband.

Governors, Merchants, and Slave Traders
Five of the nine Massachusetts governors buried in Granary are in this section of the grounds including, William Drummer (1677-1761), Tomb 168; John Endecott (1589-1665), Tomb 189; and Increase Summer (1746-1799), Tomb 180. Governors Richard Bellingham (1592-1672) and James Sullivan (1744-1808) are both buried in Tomb 146. Bellingham was infamous for secretly conducting his own marriage ceremony in 1641 to his second wife, Penelope Pelham.

Massachusetts' colonial economy depended on the Atlantic trade between Britain, the West Indies, Africa, and the American colonies. In 1687 one visitor observed that most houses in Boston had one or two slaves. Brought to Boston by 1638, African slaves were an important commodity in the West Indies trade of Boston merchants. Most of the colonial governors owned slaves, while prominent merchants such as Hugh Hall (1693-1773), Tomb 144, and David S. Greenough (1752-1826), Tomb 170, imported and sold slaves and owned plantations in the West Indies.
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Date Added Tuesday, October 14th, 2014 at 7:43am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)19T E 330197 N 4691538
Decimal Degrees42.35758333, -71.06186667
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 42° 21.455', W 71° 3.712'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds42° 21' 27.30" N, 71° 3' 42.72" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)617, 781, 508, 857
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 99 Tremont Pl, Boston MA 02108, US
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