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Source: October 1980 Volume 18 Number 4, Pages 111–115

Eighteenth Century Burials in St. Peter's Churchyard

Elizabeth Rumrill

Page 111

In attempting to establish the location of the old log Church, as well as the year in which it was built, Harold Donaldson Eberlein and Cortland VanDyke Hubbard, authors of The Church of St. Peter in the Great Valley, consider it likely that its site was on ground already begun to be used as a burial place. They further state that the earliest gravestone, long disappeared, bore the date 1703; however, this is stated unequivocally, with no substantiation of any kind given.

We do know though, that in the early days of the old stone Church, completed in 1744, there were burials within the Church walls. We have a record of three of then:

1745 Margaret Moore, aged 7 years
1749 Lady Rebecca Axtell Moore
1737 Robert Powel, member of the first Vestry

In 1900, when a wooden floor was laid in the Church, the stones marking these graves, along with the old flagstone floor, were obliterated when the joists of the wood flooring were set in concrete.

It in also noted in the history by Eberlein and Hubbard that "Along the west wall of the Churchyard are buried a number of unknown soldiers of the Revolution — British and Patriot here repose in peace side by side — their resting place marked merely by a piece of rough stone placed at their head by the detail as they performed the last sad rites for their fallen comrades". And throughout the Churchyard there are unmarked graves, perhaps of soldiers who died during the Encampment at Valley Forge.

Page 112

In 1793, Patrick Anderson was buried in the Churchyard just to the east of the Altar window. The 1856 addition covered his grave, which is now beneath the Vestry Room floor. This information comes from the pen of Mrs. Josephine W. A. Knipe, his great-great-granddaughter, and is found in St. Peter's Parish Visitor, Vol. I, No. 4, Trinity 1938.

In all probability all members of the first Vestry for whom we have no burial records were buried beneath their pews, for all are on the Pewholder List with the exception of George James. The members of the first Vestry for which burial records are not known include George Aston, John Cuthbert, Methusaleh Davis, John Evans, John Hunter, George James, Edward Pearce, and Richard Richison, (Methusaleh Davis, having deeded the land to St. Peter's, certainly would have been buried there.)

In the history by Eberlein and Hubbard, there also appears a compilation of gravestone inscriptions, reprinted from the "Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography", Vol. XV (1921), and compiled from records at that time in the possession of William Sullivan (a Vestryman, 1867-79, 1881-87, 1890-95, 1399-1902) by Howard Williams Lloyd.

During the Rectorship of the Ven. Jules Louis Prevost, M.D. (1910-24) and at his request, Miss Ellen Gooding made a survey of the churchyard, completed in January 1921. The number of graves listed by her at that time was 442, considerably more than the number in Eberlain and Hubbard's History.

Since it is interesting to know the order of burials in the early years, those of the eighteenth century are listed below in chronological order. The earliest is dated 1737. (A few differences in the year of death (and age) occur in the list compiled by Miss Gooding and that in the History. This is due, no doubt, to difficulty in reading some old stones because of weathering. These differences can perhaps now be resolved by making a tracing of the stones in question.)

There are altogether thirty-seven eighteenth century burials in the old Churchyard, as listed below. Members of the first Vestry are indicated with an *.

1   In memory of Gewn Davis, who departed this life May the 3rd, 1737, aged 61 years 5 months

2   In memory of Rachel Davis, who departed this life October the 3, 1741

Page 113

Deaths time we all must
Tread our lives Fair light
Must be obscure and set
In deaths dark night

3   Here lies the body of Catherine Rees, who departed this life the 12th day of February Anno Domini 1742/3 aged 50 years

4   Margaret Moore, July 18, 1745, aged 7 years (from Moore Family Bible)

5   In memory of James David*, who died July 24th, 1746 aged 73 years

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord

6   In memory of Margaret, daughter of W and Mary Thomas, who departed this life March ye 6th, 1747-8, aged 13 years

Also Mary Thomas, Relict of Wm. Thomas, who departed this life A.D. 1771, aged about 78 years

She being the first donor to this Church,
her donation given April 30th, 1757

7   In memory of Ann Davis, who died Jan, 19th, 1748 aged 26 years

8   Rebecca Axtell Moore, 1749 (from Moore Family Bible)

9   In memory of William Thomas, who departed this life Sept, 20th, 1750 aged 57 years

Blest door of Bliss to weary Saints
Thou art given death
Secured as in a cabinet
Their dust is in the tombs

10  In memory of Ann, wife of William Owen, who died July 8th, 1751, aged 50 years

11  In memory of Michael Rees, who departed this life April the 29th, 1756, aged 55 years

12  In memory of Mary Martin Daughter of Roger Martin, who departed this life January the 27th, 1758, aged 13 years and 6 months

13  In memory of Bath Cronow, who departed this life March ye 20th, 1763, aged 47 years

O thou cruel death
By thy dart I'm slain
My Saviour Christ conq. you
And I shall rise again

Page 114

14  In memory of John Williams, who died in Sept 1778 and Rebecca his wife who died in March 1763 and of John their son who died on the 22nd of Aug 1803

15  Lo here doth lie the body of Morris Griffith* d. Jan 27, 1766, in his 79th year

16  Elizabeth, the dau. of David Howell and Mary his wife, d. Jan. 4, 1769, aged 16 months

17  In memory of John Adams, who died September 5th, 1769, aged about 13 years

"Remember youth as you pass be
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so must you be
Prepare for death and follow me"

18  In memory of Wm. McLaughlin who departed this life in year 1769

19  In memory of Roger Martin who departed this life July the First 1770, aged 63 years nine months & 4 days

20  In memory of Mary Adams, who died August 14, 1770, aged 40 years

21  Mary Thomas (see Number 6)

22  In memory of John Thomas who departed this life August the 10th 1778 in the 48th year of his life

23  John Williams (see Number 14)

24  In memory of David Howel who departed this life April 3rd, 1779 Aged 42 years

25  Robert Powel*,1787 (under Pew 16 — from his Will)

26  In memory of William Owen*, who died March 19th, 1769, aged 93 years

27  In memory of Thomas Lewis, who departed this life the 3rd day of April, 1789, in the 85th year of his age

28  In memory of Jane Martin Little, the wife of Roger Little, who departed this life October the 18th, 1790 aged 73 years and 3 months

Page 115

29  Sacred to the memory of Cromwell Pearce, who departed , this life August 4th 1791, in the 62nd year of his age, also of Margaret Pearce, who departed this life Decem"`ber 28th, 1813, in the 78th year of her age

30  George King, d. Dec. 5, 1792, in his 61st year (Revolutionary Soldier)

31  In memory of John Quinn who departed this life July 5th, 1793

32  In memory of Benjamin Thomas, who died Sept. 2nd, 1793, in the 64th year of his age, also Elizabeth his wife, who died Nov. 14th, 1816, in the 86th year of her age

33  Patrick Anderson, 1793 (Revolutionary Soldier)

34  In memory of Robert Quay who departed this life 7th of January 1795, aged 10 years

35  In memory of Thomas Roberts who departed this life July 15th, 1795, aged 58 years 5 months & 15 days

36  Sacred to the memory of Elizabeth Ralston, wife of Robert Ralston Esq. who departed this life in December 1797, aged 75 years 2 months & 9 days

Farewell my husband dear
My children and my friends
In hope to rest in Jesus Christ
When all my pains will end

37  In memory of Ann, daughter of John and Mary Adams, who departed this life November 22, A.D. 1799, aged 4 years & 4 months


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