|John White, 1690, Copp's Hill, Boston|
HERE LYETH BURIED
Ye BODY OF
AGED ABOUT 30 [edit: 50]
YEARS DECD Ye 6
OF AUGUST 1690
This stone has been vandalized to make it appear that the date is 1620, rather than 1690. If you look closely, you can see that the bottom line of the the 2 has been scratched in. Also, 1620 is an implausible date — there was no Boston, let alone a burying ground at Copp's Hill in 1620. No New England gravestone survives from the pre-1650 period, and I strongly suspect that some of the 1650s stones are backdated. I suppose someone could have erected a drastically backdated stone at Copp's Hill to honor an ancestor who had died in 1620, but that's more of a 19th-century thing, while this is clearly a 17th-century stone.
Thomas Bridgman's 1851 transcription of Copp's Hill, a work with a great many errors, reads "50 years" and "1625" on this stone, with the footnote: "The true date of this inscription was 1695. It was altered some forty years ago by a school boy."
Oops — he's right about the 50 years.
The 9 with a tail seems to have been a common thing back in the late 1600s. All of William Mumford's stones in Newport have that tail on the 9; it may have been a common lettering device of the time.
Yes, I can see now that is is "50" rather than "30."
I think it's fascinating that Bridgman knew or claimed to know that the alteration was specifically made about 40 years before (ca 1810) "by a school boy." I wonder if he knew who it was? Was this change widely known to people? ("Oh yes, everyone who knows the cemetery knows that stone was changed to make it seem like the earliest one...")
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