J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, April 02, 2018

Warren Funeral Commemoration at King’s Chapel, 5 Apr.

On Thursday, 5 April, King’s Chapel will host a talk by Samuel A. Forman on “Dr. Joseph Warren and King’s Chapel—242nd Anniversary of Warren’s Funeral.”

As Boston 1775 readers know, Dr. Joseph Warren was killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill and then buried several times. Not in pieces, though some rumors claimed that, but in different graves over the decades.

The first burying-place was on the battlefield itself. But after the British left Boston, Warren’s family and friends sought out his body and brought it across the Charles for a large funeral.

That event took place at King’s Chapel on 8 Apr 1776. Warren wasn’t a member of that Anglican congregation; he had been a congregant at the Brattle Street Meetinghouse instead. But Boston’s places of worship were in turmoil after the siege.

On Sunday, 10 March, the minister at King’s Chapel, the Rev. Henry Caner, had written in the church records:
An unnatural Rebellion of the Colonies against his Majesties Government obliged the Loyal Part of his subjects to evacuate their dwellings and substance, and to take refuge in Halifax, London, and elsewhere; By which means the public Worship at King’s Chapel became suspended, and is likely to remain so, till it shall please God in the Course of his Providence to change the hearts of the Rebels, or give success to his Majesties arms for suppressing the Rebellion.
Much of the upper-class Anglican congregation sailed away with the royal troops.

That left the big stone building available for Dr. Warren’s funeral less than a month later. A few weeks after that, the Old South Meeting-House congregation moved in for a few years until their own building was restored from being used as a riding stable by British dragoons.

Sam Forman’s talk will examine what Warren meant to Boston, the retrieval of his remains from Charlestown, and how young lawyer Perez Morton’s oration helped to define Warren’s legacy in the nascent republic. Forman is the author of Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and the Birth of American Liberty.

King’s Chapel is at 58 Tremont Street in Boston. This event will start at 6:30 P.M. It is free and open to the public, but King’s Chapel asks people who plan to attend to register here. There’s a suggested donation of $5 to support the church’s preservation efforts and history program.

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