the cemetery next to the King’s Chapel Unitarian Church in Boston is a prime example of what comes to mind when I think of a place with the weight of history.
stop number 5/6 on the Freedom Trial, the burial ground is the oldest in the city and was established in 1630. for thirty years, it was the only cemetery in the city of Boston and the remains of many notable 17th century Bostonians are apparently buried here. (the Granary Burying Ground, a few blocks away, founded in 1660, has more notable Revolutionary-era interments.)
this is the headstone of Joseph Tapping and, while more intricate than many other headstones in the ground, captures the tone of memorial stones of the period. and quite unlike someone in the twenty-first century might elect to put on their grave. on the face of the stone, a skeleton and Father Time battle over the eventuality of death. dead at 25 in 1678. from what I recall, he wasn’t much of a noteworthy at the time, but the elaborateness of his stone marks him out from all the other graves in the grounds. the image of death or a skeleton or Father Time was common on on markers of this period, but none that I saw matched the detail or artistry of Tapping’s.
for many years, it was believed that William Dawes rested in a tomb in the King’s Chapel Burial Grounds. along with Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, Dawes was tasked by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Lexington to Boston to warn local militias of British troop movements, allowing them to mobilize — the famous midnight ride that kicked off the Revolutionary War and resulted in colonial victories in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. there’s a prominent tomb with an inscription honoring Dawes at the ground beside the King’s Chapel, but it has recently been uncovered that he might have been removed and re-interred in his wife’s tomb at Forest Hill in Jamaica Plain. urban sprawl has forced the relocation of many Revolutionary-era dead and, and might include Dawes. records at Forest Hill refer to a William Dawes (who died in 1799 as did Revere’s companion) whose remains were relocated from the Boylston Street Burial Grounds in 1882, but there is apparently no mention as to from the original location of the remains. some contend that he was never buried in the King’s Chapel grounds at all and that, in a fit of Revolutionary fervor, the Sons of the Revolution affixed a plaque honoring the midnight riders to the tomb of Dawes’ grandfather.
the full article from the Boston Globe on Dawes’ disposition is here.