Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Discussion: "Is John Moore Buried in the Center Aisle of Christ Church, Philadelphia?"

As you will recall from my last post on Christ Church, Philadelphia, John Hopkins, the Burial Ground Coordinator said the following:

I am in charge of the grave yard and much research here at Christ Church.I found a listing for the burial of John Moor Esq. on Dec 7th, 1732. The only listing I found for Rebecca was in April of 1765, probably not the same person you were looking for.As far as we know John Moor is not buried in the aisle of the church but there is no way of knowing for sure.In 1864 the warden of the church wrote down all inscriptions at the church and 5th st. graveyard. Moore’s name is not found in that book. His gravestone like thousands of others faded away. But we do know he is buried here since his name appears in our burial book, the book doesn’t indicate the location of his burial. He could be buried at the church or at 5th st where Ben Franklin is buried.
In response, Terri Bradshaw O'Neill added the following commentary and also emailed it to Mr. Hopkins:

I've been rummaging through my Christ Church Philadelphia, Hon. John Moore, Episcopal Archives, and general Philadelphia files trying to track down what I know about the grave of Hon. John Moore. I have a certified copy of the burial register of Christ Church from the church archives, and a copy of the 1864 "Record of the Inscriptions on the Tablets and Gravestones of Christ Church" by Edward L. Clark, Church Warden that Mr. Hopkins referred to. I visited Christ Church Archives in 1993, and the resulting report is attached below. Between Clark's 1864 booklet, the archives records, and David Moore Hall's description in "Six Centuries of Moores of Fawley," and a letter between Alexander Campbell & Capt. H H Bellas in 1894, I concluded that "John Moor, Esq" was buried (according to Clark's tablet numbers) either under #XLII (42) or #XLIV (44), both of which have no discernible inscription. The Campbell to Bellas 1894 letter states: Thomas William Channing Moore on the 6th July, 1852, wrote a letter, a copy of which is before me, to the Rector, Churchwardens and vestrymen of Christ's Church, in reference to John Moore, his various offices and his grave opposite his pew, in the middle aisle. Mr. Moore said, in part, 'The inscription on the stone over his grave had become so effaced that it could not be deciphered when the present floor was laid down, and as, in consequence thereof, no memorial of him exists in the church, I think a sufficient reason exists for the request I now make to place one therein.' This letter was returned to Mr. Moore the 3rd Sept 1852, by J. Bacon, who stated it was laid before the vestry, 1st Sept and returned because their decision was against it.

While researching at Christ Church archives, and later at the Episcopal Archives in Austin, TX, I could find no record of this communication & request in the vestry minutes. But according to vestry minutes, John Moore's pew was #17. How that compares to today's configuration, I have no idea, but it may be helpful in locating his burial site. Rebecca (Axtell) Moore, wife of Hon. John Moore, as noted by Steve, is buried at St. Peter's Church in the Valley in Chester county, PA. There is no memorial stone for her, either.

Two other tidbits from Christ Church/Episcopal archives: Peter Evans, John & Rebecca Moore's son-in-law, represented the vestry in a petition to the Bishop of London in 1725. Victor Moore has written a very good interpretation of the memorial of Peter Evans. And the other tidbit is this entry in the vestry minutes of 6 Oct 1732 (two months before the death of John Moore): A Letter from [Rev.] Doctor Thomas Moore of Great Brittain, informing them that a gift of £300 was being considered to augment the salary of the minister of Christ Church. This Dr. Thomas Moore, of course, was the son of Hon. John Moore; he served at St. Botolph Aldersgate & Little Britain in London, and Chislehurst in Kent. Hon. John Moore did have a brother also named Thomas; he was the librarian at Westminster Abbey, and he had no children.
Mr. John Hopkins of Christ Church responds:
There is no way to ever know for certain where John Moore is buried. Of the two blank markers in the Clark book referred to in your letter, the one is believed to be that of Rev. Evan. The other is unknown. I also know that there are over 400 people buried in and around the church before the burial ground was purchased in 1719, and only around 30 markers. There are many people that could be buried in the churchyard in unknown locations.
It would be great if we knew the locations of one of our founder’s graves but at this point it is hard to say.
Terri continues the discussion with a reply to Mr. Hopkins:
I agree, there's no way of knowing for certain where John Moore is buried. It seems to me that the best clue is the 1852 letter to the vestry from Thomas William Channing Moore mentioning "his grave opposite his pew, in the middle aisle." As I mentioned, the vestry minutes indicate that John Moore's pew was #17, which would seem to be farther back from the alter & the stones I originally thought might be his burial site. On my 1993 visit, I don't recall whether there were any other blank markers in the center aisle in the vicinity of pew #17, and the key word there is "opposite" which may have had a different meaning in the 18th or 19th century from our understanding of it today.
I appreciate your taking the time to respond to our enquiries. You must get a lot of them. It’s certainly an overwhelming thought that there are over 400 persons buried in and around the church, with only a small fraction marked. I haven’t given much thought to the burial site of John Moore in a decade or so, but today’s emails have renewed my interest & brought a question to the forefront of my mind. Why would the vestry decide against placing a memorial to John Moore at the request of TWC Moore? The expense? If TWC Moore didn’t offer to pay the cost of the memorial, did he demand that Christ Church pay for it? Just wondering, & if you have any thoughts on the matter, I’d love to hear them. Thanks again for your information.

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