Named after shoemaker William Copp, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground is the final resting place and cemetery of merchants, artisans and crafts people who lived in the North End. Located on a hill on which a windmill once stood, the land was given to the town. Copp’s Hill, located on the Freedom Trail, was Boston’s largest colonial burying ground, dating from 1659.
Most of the people buried in Copp’s Hill Burying Ground are ordinary Bostonians, with some notable exceptions as Cotton and his father Increase Mather who were two Puritan ministers closely associated with the Salem witch trials. The burying ground also holds Old North Church sexton Robert Newman who is thought to have hung the lanterns on the night of Paul Revere’s midnight ride and Edmund Hartt, builder of the USS Constitution. It is believed that close to 1000 free African-Americans who lived in a community on the current Charter Street side of the cemetery are also buried at Copp’s Hill Burying Ground. Because of its height, the British used this vantage point to train their cannons on Charlestown during the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.
RIDDLED The British didn’t like Capt. Daneil Malcolm very much. Malcolm was a vocal patriot who sold tea and smuggled wine into Boston. He died just before the Battle of Bunker Hill and asked to be buried in a stone grave 10 ft. deep to be safe from British bullets. British soldiers later riddled his headstone as they singled out his grave marker for target practice.
PRINCE HALL Prince Hall was a free Black man of Boston who founded America’s first Black Masonic Lodge, known after his death as the Prince Hall Masons. In 1777, Hall and others petitioned the Massachusetts legislature demanding the end of slavery in the Bay State. After the Revolution Hall continued to work to secure social, political, and economic freedoms for African-Americans. Prince Hall Masons such as David Walker and Lewis Hayden became Boston’s leading Black abolitionists. Many activists in the 20th Century civil rights movement were Prince Hall Masons. Hall lived near Copp’s Hill and was buried there.
Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
Open daily 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.