The slave burials of Rumney Marsh Burial Ground

Story contributed by the Rumney Marsh Burial Ground Renovation Committee

This article provides some historical detail about the slaves buried at the Rumney Marsh Burial Ground (RMBG) in Revere. In New England slaves were often buried in unmarked graves on the outskirts of their community’s cemeteries, so it’s a unique feature of RMBG to have so many documented slave burials. Circa 1700’s- 1800’s.

Along the north wall of Rumney Marsh Burial Ground are two plaques which commemorate the burials of men, women, and children who were slaves in Revere (Rumney Marsh) during the Eighteenth Century. The information on the plaques, which is based in part on an 1897 map of the burial ground, provides us with names, dates of death, approximate ages, and occasionally the names of the people they served. 

The burials are otherwise unmarked, and it is more than likely that gravestones never existed. The map indicates that most of these individuals were buried along the north wall, with the exceptions of Job and Betty Worrow and Fanny Fairweather, who were buried in the southeast corner of the burial ground. Job Worrow served in the Revolutionary War, and Fairweather was a slave of the Cary family of the Bellingham-Cary House in Chelsea.

Most historical documents only mention these individuals when they were part of transactions; for example, when they were handed down from one generation to the next. At Rumney Marsh Burial Ground they are not lost to history, and we can do as the plaques implore us to do: “never forget that they were human beings who contributed to our community’s history.”

Slavery not only existed in Revere (Rumney Marsh) / Chelsea, but throughout New England. From the early seventeenth century to our winning independence from Britain, slavery was evident in all of the New England states.

Most worked as house servants or in the distillery of rum especially in the port cities of Newport and Boston. Because our community was basically rural, the men and women who lived and died in Chelsea worked on small farms for several of the wealthy land owners or in their homes. 

Numerically, there were not many who were in bondage, however even one human being forced to work involuntarily is a stain upon our community and New England in general.

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