Thursday, August 11, 2011

Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire

A few days ago we visited Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire while driving north to Maine. There is a great deal of information available on this historical cemetery (http://portsmoutholdgraves.org/buryinggrounds.asp and http://gravematter.com/cem-nh-portsmouth2.asp) and the headstones here are well covered in www.findagrave.com. There is even a book that shows some of the headstones, 'Portsmouth Cemeteries', by Glenn A. Knoblock.


The cemetery sits at a head of land between houses and a public park, and is not attached as aprt of a church burying ground, but has apparently always acted as a stand-alone cemetery. The cemetery had a number of information boards at the entrance (through an old wrought-iron turnstile or kissing gate) pointing out a number of headstones of interest.


The cemetery is the oldest remaining in the historical town. According to information available it was '...established in 1671 on land deeded to the town by Capt. John Pickering. Located on Mechanic Street next to the Prescott Park planting beds and overlooking the Piscataqua River. No gravestones survived previous to 1682 because Capt. Pickering's cattle was (sic) allowed to continue grazing among the gravestones after the burying ground was established. It contains some of the finest examples of early gravestone artistry by many Massachusetts sculptors including Bostonians William Mumford, a Quaker; Nathaniel Emmes; John Homer; and the carver known only by his initials “JN” (possibly the silversmith John Noyes). Other carvers include brothers Caleb and Nathaniel Lamson and possibly their father and mentor, Joseph, of Charlestown; James Foster of Dorchester; and John Hartshorne and Joseph Mullicken of Haverhill."


While is is clear that over the years headstones have been lost, those standing were stunning in the clarity of the carvings after over 300 years. The headstones did not appear to contain the 'warnings' and 'tales' I've seen at the bottom of other New England headstones, but were simple in design and information.


Notes under each headstone photo and transcript were derived from the information boards on-site. Headstones are shown below in no particular order.



Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
In Memory of John Libbey
Son of John & Mary Libbey
Died March 28th 1785
In ye 4th year of his ?

 Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
 Anne ye wife 
of George Jaffrey Esq.
Aged 18 years
Decd Decmb 6 1689 

 Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Left: 
Here lyes ye body of Mr. RICHARD WEBBER
Aged 82 years
Decd May 25 17??
Right:
Here lyes ye body of Mrs. Lydia Webber
Wife to Mr. Richard Webber
Aged 69 years
who decd April 10th 1721

    Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
 Nehemiah Partridge
Died Febry ye 12 1709 in ye 46 year of his age
William Partridge
Died May ye 13 1718 in ye 47 year of his age 

 Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Left: 
Here lies the body of Samuel Griffeth
son of Mr. Samuel & Mrs. Abigail Griffeth
who died April 21st 1759 
aged 3 years 10 months & 21 ds
Right:
Here lies the body of Miles Ward Griffeth
son of Mr. Samuel & Mrs. Abigail Griffeth
who died April 25th 1759 
aged 2 years 3 months & 1 day


 Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Here lies buried the body of Mrs Abigail Cario
wife of Mr. William Cario
who departed this life
Sepbr 17th 1767
in the 41st year of her age


 Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Here lies buried the body of Mrs Agnis Shurburn
Aged 33 years
Decd Oct ? ??
 
Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Here lies buried ye body of Mrs Elizabeth Pike
ye wife of Dr Robert Pike
Aged 27 years who deceased ye 5 of February in ye year 1719 or 20

Note the natural detritus accentuating the winged skull:



 Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
In Memory of Cap. TOBIAS LEAR
obt. Nov 6th 1781
Aged 45
A wit's a feather & a Chief a Rod
An HONEST MAN'S the noblest work of GOD

Point of Head cemetery, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Here lyeth buried ye body of William Button
of Jersey aged 37 years
Died ye 19 day of October 1693
Buried by Clement Lempriere 
en Tho Button  


1 comment:

  1. The correct name of the cemetery is the Point of Graves.

    ReplyDelete