Photo/Image Courtesy of Rhode Island Historic Cemetery Volunteers

Cemetery NumberNT014
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Pole Number5
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Size in Feet85
Size in Feet110
Last seen date?2009
CommentCalled Clifton Burial Ground after the first owner of the land, Thomas Clifton, who left it in his will in 1675 to the Society of Friends. It is also known as Golden Hill Burial Ground, named for the street it is located on. An index card at Newport Historical Society points out that some stones predate the will. Many Quakers are buried here, but in general the stones are elaborately rather than severely carved. Many notable citizens of early Newport, including FREEBORN CLARKE, a daughter of Roger Williams, and her second husband GOV. WALTER CLARKE rest here. The Governors Wanton are buried here. The Hon. Robert S. Franklin asserted in his 1911/1912 speech "Newport Cemeteries" that the family vault of Gov. Joseph Wanton was built at the expense of Joseph & William Wanton in 1771. He quoted, possibly from a now missing inscription, that bodies of the wife and son of Joseph Wanton, Sr. and the wife and children of Joseph Wanton, Jr. were moved to the vault Oct. 18, 1771. Other bones of the Wanton family were dug up, some from the Common Ground, some from Bristol. (See the reprint in SPECIAL BULLETIN of the Newport Historical Society, No. Ten, Newport, RI, Dec. 1910). A 1996 cursory examination revealed only a raised mound with only two WANTON names. See also "Three Hundred Years of the Governors of Rhode Island," pp. 135-137. Beside the many historically interesting persons buried here, this cemetery is notable for an exceptionally fine collection of gravestones concentrated in a small area. The Stevens family of stonecarvers is well represented; one also finds many Bull and Mumford stones. As of March 1996 the cemetery was clean, neatly trimmed, with few broken or down stones, a tribute to recent efforts by neighbors and the Newport Parks Commission. In 1869 H.T. Tuckerman described a different picture: "Rank weeds have overgrown the pathless little enclosure, over which the poor dwellers of the neighborhood spread their washed garments to bleach" ("The Graves of Newport," Harpers' Magazine, Aug. 1869). A hundred years later in 1969 it was still described as in poor condition. Numerous sources document burials in this lot, beginning with the Friends' Record published in Arnold (QUAK) which provides many names for which no stones exist now and likely never did. George Henry Richardson (GHR) transcribed the lot in 1873 (ms at Newport Historical Society). Benjamin F. Wilbour and Waldo C. Sprague (WS) recorded inscriptions in natural order in 1956 (ms at NEHGS in Boston). CETA volunteers in the mid-1970s sketched gravestones in natural order. Alden G. Beaman (AGB) published his transcription of "all stones which could be read" in his Rhode Island Genealogical Register," vol. 11, 1988, pp. 309-314. Most recently John E. Sterling (JES) read the gravestones in late 1997 for phase 2 of the RI Historic Cemetery Project and Barb Austin and Letty Champion photographed every gravestone in 2007. Note that many gravestones in this cemetery have dates given in Quaker format where the month is given as a number. Before 1752 the Julian calendar was in use and the first month was March. The dates from the gravestones have been converted to the Gregorian calendar now in use.
Enclosurewood fence
Gateno gate
Growthgrass-well kept
Cemetery Location
Cemetery Burial Map N/A