King’s Chapel Burying Ground

With thanks to the City Of Boston:

King’s Chapel is Boston’s oldest burying ground and was founded in 1630 at the time of the settlement of Boston. Like the majority of Boston’s burying grounds, it has always been under municipal control and not affiliated with any church. The site is said to be part of Isaac Johnson’s estate, a highly regarded early settler.

In 1668 Royal Governor Sir Edmund Andros claimeed a portion of this property to construct the town’s first Anglican church – King’s Chapel – which was built in 1688. The earliest graves and tombs were scattered randomly throughout the grounds and had no formal pathways.

In the early nineteenth century, landscaped cemeteries outside cities became the public parks of their era and efforts were taken to beautify urban burial grounds. Pedestrian footpaths, an ornamental cast iron fence and various plantings were all installed to enhance visitors’ experience in King’s Chapel Burying Ground.

Efforts went so far as to rearrange the gravestones in straight rows, frequently not corresponding to the body buried underneath. Tradition holds that the first interment in King’s Chapel Burying Ground was that of the former owner of the property, Isaac Johnson, in 1630.

Notables buried here include:

  • Massachusetts’ first governor, John Winthrop
  • William Dawes, Paul Revere’s compatriot on his ride to Lexington in 1775
  •  The Reverend John Cotton, a powerful religious leader in seventeenth-century

    Gravestone Of Elizabeth Paine – Believed To Be The Inspiration of Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter


  • Hezekiah Usher, the colonies’ first printer and publisher
  • Mary Chilton, who many believe was the first woman to step off the Mayflower
  • Elizabeth Pain (Inspiriation for Hawthornes Scarlett Letter Heroine)
  • William Emerson (father of Ralph Waldo Emerson)

The Burial Ground was added to The National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Boston’s Freedom Trail Foundation includes the site in its walking tours.

A brief video glimpse of The King’s Chapel Burying Ground:

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