A few blocks south of Copp’s Hill Burying Ground lies another cemetery on the Freedom Trail, the King’s Chapel Burying Ground. This was the first cemetery established in the city of Boston and it dates back to 1630. Nearly five decades later, King’s Chapel was built within the cemetery grounds, as the congregation could not find any available land where they could build a church. That said, the cemetery was never affiliated with any particular church or congregation.
Over a thousand people are buried in this small piece of land, but there are only around 500 markers and 70 (mostly table-top) tombs. The shade from the trees made it a little dark in here, which made it difficult to read some of the stones, but to be fair, they are very old and faded.
Like Copp’s Hill, there are a few information boards here to explain the imagery and some of the more famous burials. One burial is that of Elizabeth Pain, who is said to be the inspiration for Hester Prynne in The Scarlett Letter. Ms. Pain (1652-1704) had had a child out of wedlock and later when the child died she was accused (and later acquitted) of murder (but was flogged for negligence). She later married a man name Pain. Her gravestone is unusual in that it has an escutcheon which has half of the letter “A” and two lions on the other side.
I guess there’s some debate to the truth of this story, but regardless, the stone itself is interesting, with lots of extra detailing not regularly seen with these types of memorials.
Monuments: Lots of interesting old slab-style markers here, with lots of variations on winged death, cherubs, and other funerary symbols.
Grounds: It’s a small piece of land that’s easily accessible. There’s a path that takes you around all the notable graves.
Visitors: There were a few when I visited, but nothing like Copp’s Hill or Granary Burying Grounds.
Cemetery: King’s Chapel Burying Ground
Notable Internments: Mary Chilton, Pilgrim, the first woman to step ashore in New England; Elizabeth Pain: Dr. Comfort Starr, founder of Harvard College; William Emerson, father of Ralph Waldo Emerson
Location: Tremont and School Streets, Boston. It’s just to the northwest of Boston Common.
Hours: 10:00-16:30 daily