The Virginia Gazette

Today in the 1770s: October 19

WILLIAMSBURG, October 19, 1770.
This being the day appointed for interring the remains of our late beloved Governour, at one o'clock the Church, College, and Capitol bells, began tolling; and the company repaired to the Palace, according to invitation, precisely at two. At three, the corpse being placed on the hearse, the procession began to move, in the following order, to the church, both sides of Palace Street being lined with the city militia, and those of York and James city counties. The Hearse, Preceded by two metes, and three on each side the hearse, Outward of whom walked the pall bearers, Composed of six of his Majesty's Council, and the Hon. the Speaker, and Richard Bland, Esq; of the House of Burgesses. His Excellency's servants, in deep mourning. The Gentlemen of the Clergy, and Professors of the College. Clerk of the church, and Organist. Immediately followed the hearse the Chief Mourners. Gentlemen of the Faculty. Mayor, Recorder, Aldermen, and Common Council, of the city, with the mace born before them. Gentlemen of the Law, and Clerk of the General Court. Ushers, Students, and Scholars, of William and Mary College, all having white hatbands and gloves. And then the company, which was very numerous, two and two. At the western gate the corpse was removed from the hearse, and, carried by eight bearers, the Gentlemen appointed supporting the pall, placed in the centre of the church, on a carpet of black. The altar, pulpit, and his Excellency's seat, were likewise hung with black. Then the service began; and an anthem, accompanied by the organ, was sung, conducted by Mr. Woolls. The Rev. and Hon. the Commissary then delivered a discourse, from Psalm xiii, part of the 7th verse, Put thy trust in God, which joined to the deep affection felt by the whole audience for the loss of such an excellent man, and so good a Governour, drew tears from many. Sermon being ended, the corpse was again placed on the hearse, and the company moved in the same order to the College, entering at the front gate, and so proceeding through the College to the chapel, where the corpse was deposited in a vault, the militia firing three vollies at the interrment. The coffin was of lead, with a cover of common velvet, adorned with silver handles, and a large silver plate, on which was this inscription: NORBORNE Baron de BOTETOURT, Ob. xv 0ct. MDCCLXX. AEtat. LIII.

Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon) October 18, 1770 A Supplement, published on October 19, 1770.

About this entry:

Lord Botetourt's funeral procession and ceremony describes the funeral customs for the equivalent of a "state" funeral in the colonies. When Colonial Williamsburg re-enacted the funeral, this description provided the necessary details for staging the elaborate procession. The silver coffin plate was stolen when the vaults were broken into in 1862 by Federal soldiers and was returned to Virginia in 1888 by a jeweler in Albany, NY who had purchased it from the widow of a Federal soldier.

Sources: WMQ

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