The Oldest Gravestone in the Trinity Churchyard

The Parish of Trinity Church, founded in 1697, is quite old—but did you know that Trinity’s north churchyard is even older? Used as a public burial ground dating back to the Dutch period, the north churchyard was probably being used as early as the 1660s.

Because of its pre-Trinity life, there are gravestones in the north churchyard that are older than the church itself. The oldest stone that has been identified is that of Richard Churcher, age 5, who died in 1681. The stone is also unique because it has a three-dimensional carving of a skull and crossbones on the back. Next to Richard Churcher is the gravestone for Ann Churcher, likely a relative, who was buried in 1691.

Oldest Marked Grave of Richard Churcher
Photo from Trinity Church Wall Street

One of the ways Trinity has documented the churchyard over the years is through photographic inventory. First undertaken in the 1980s, another inventory was completed in 2014.  Taking professional photographs of each stone to document its condition allows us to track the passing of time in our 350+ year-old burial ground, and to preserve a record of each stone.