This question is from Barbara Brown of Hidden Brookline.
The Friends of Brookline’s Old Burying Ground are planning to place markers in the cemetery to mark and honor the enslaved buried there. At this point, we have confirmed 10 enslaved people as buried in the cemetery, with 8 out of the 10 listed as buried with their enslavers and enslavers’ relatives.
The listing comes from the 1922 document Burials & Inscriptions in the Walnut Street Cemetery, compiled by Harriet Alma Cummings, 1922, based on a variety of earlier documents. I have attended several talks in the Boston areas by scholars stating that in their Boston-area town, those enslaved were not buried with their enslavers, except in rare, unusual circumstances.
How likely is it that enslaved people in 18th-century MA were buried with their enslavers?
And how likely is is that the cemetery only contains the remains of only 10 out of the roughly 90 people who were enslaved in our town?
Of course, not all those enslaved here lived here until they died. Is it possible or likely that there are a number of enslaved in the cemetery’s potter’s field?
Thanks in advance to the Atlantic Black Box community for any insights or book recommendations that might help to elucidate this question.
Barbara Brown can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
One thought on “Question: How likely is it that enslaved people in 18th-century MA were buried with their enslavers?”
I think it’s important to change the term “owners” here to enslavers, immediately. We are all working hard on language that’s more honest.