Point of Graves
This burial ground has some of the finest Colonial Era gravestones in northern New England. Portsmouth residents patronized Massachusetts gravestone carvers until the early 1800s. Among the artists whose work can be found here are Bostonians William Mumford, a Quaker; Nathaniel Emmes; John Homer; and the carver known only by his initials "JN" (possibly the silversmith John Noyes). Other carvers include brothers Caleb and Nathaniel Lamson and possibly their father and mentor, Joseph, of Charlestown; James Foster of Dorchester; and John Hartshorne and Joseph Mullicken of Haverhill.
William Button d. 1693
One of the wealthiest men in New Hampshire, Button drowned after falling overboard from his ship the Lyon in Portsmouth harbor. This elaborate stone was crafted by the carver known only as "JN".
Alice Ayers d. 1718
James Foster carved this striking stone for the wife of a blacksmith. The light-bulb shape of the skull and the use of the winged hourglass are both Foster trademarks.
Elisha Briard d. 1718
Briard made blocks for ships' rigging and also made coffins. His unusual stone was carved by John Hartshorne, whose style was a radical departure from that of Puritan-influenced Boston. This work represents the start of the Merrimac Valley style of carving. The unusual design motifs on
Joseph Small d. 1720
Little is known about Small. The stone is an early work of Caleb Lamson, whose initials are found below the jaw of the death's-head. Signed stones are rare, but Caleb signed six other stones still in Point of Graves, perhaps to distinguish this early work from that of his father and brother Nathaniel. Only five other signed stones by him are known to be in existence, all in Massachusetts or Connecticut.
Obadiah Marshall d. 1746
Marshall was a blockmaker. The gravestone is called a "pumpkin" stone from the oval shape of the angel's head. This stone, with its unique style of carving, was crafted by Joseph Mullicken.
Francis Messer d. 1692
This stone, carved by William Mumford for a Portsmouth carpenter, is unusual for its Latin inscription "Memento Mori" meaning "Remember Death." Gravestones with this wording are common in Boston but rare in Portsmouth.
Captain Tobias Lear d. 1781
Lear was a mariner of Portsmouth whose home, now a historic site, is a few blocks from Point of Graves on Hunking Street. His son Tobias Jr. served as President George Washington's private secretary. The elder Lear's gravestone was carved by John Homer and displays the realistic skull and crossbones for which he is best known.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. A different marker also named Point of Graves (a few steps from this marker); Sheafe Warehouse (within shouting distance of this marker); Liberty Pole and Bridge (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Portsmouth NH Red Light District (about 300 feet away); Portsmouth NH Marine Railway (about 500 feet away); Black Yankees and The Sea (about 500 feet away); Colonel Tobias Lear (about 500 feet away); Portsmouth Navy Yard (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Portsmouth.
Categories. • Cemeteries & Burial Sites •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on August 27, 2014, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland. This page has been viewed 316 times since then and 25 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on August 27, 2014, by Bill Pfingsten of Bel Air, Maryland.