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Copp's Hill

Hull Street and Snowhill Road
North End

1633- Originally called North Burying Ground, Copp’s Hill was the second place of interment on the Boston peninsula and was laid out in 1659. The area acquired its present name through its association with William Copp, a shoemaker and early settler who lived near today’s Prince Street. During the Revolution, the burying ground’s prominent location overlooking the harbor gave it strategic military importance. At its southwest side the British established their North Battery and an earthworks from which they directed the shelling of Bunker Hill and ultimately the torching of Charlestown. Legend has it that British troops used gravestones for target practice. Many have interpreted the round scars of the Captain Daniel Malcolm gravemarker as the result of musketballs shot at close range. Used continually as a burying ground through the 1850s, Copp’s Hill is the final resting place of over 10,000 people. The Mather tomb contains the remains of the prominent ministerial family. Also interred here are Edmund Hartt, the builder of the USS Constitution; Robert Newman, who placed the lanterns at Christ Church on the eve of Paul Revere’s famous ride; and Prince Hall, anti-slavery activist, Revolutionary War soldier, and founder of the black Masonic Order. By the time of the Revolutionary War, more than 1,000 free blacks and slaves were buried at Copp’s Hill. In addition, thousands of artisans and tradesmen are buried here. The gravemarkers and their epitaphs reflect the nature of the seventeenth and eighteenth-century economy of the North End.
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