Bristol, Rhode Island: The Most Famous Tombstone In New England

An over-ornamental design made this slab a sensation among the dour Puritans. It's in corner of the historical society museum in Bristol's old jail.

Bristol Historical & Preservation Society

48 Court St., Bristol, RI
Bristol Historical & Preservation Society. Between Hope St. and High St. west of the town common.
W, F 1-5 pm, 1st Su of month 2-5 pm or by appt. (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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The Most Famous Tombstone In New England

Sarah Swan died April 17, 1767, at age 20. Her headstone was carved by a cousin, William Coy (who was only 19), and was topped with a lavish carving of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is -- according to curator Ray Battcher -- the most famous headstone in New England, because Puritans didn't ordinarily place that type of ornamentation on their headstones. Weren't Puritans already 100 years past their prime in 1767?

The tombstone is no longer outside, but is tucked into a corner of the Bristol Historical & Preservation Society, which is in an 1828 Bristol County jail that still has its original cells.

[ Team, 04/18/2007]

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In the region:
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