Friends’ Plot and the Oldest Extant Gravemarkers

Three ledgers: an unknown burial,
John Bainbridge (1657-1732) and
Sarah Bainbridge (1660-1731)

Riverview Cemetery incorporates the Friends' burying ground that was established by the Chesterfield Monthly Meeting in 1685. While the earliest gravemarkers, if any, have long since disappeared, the oldest extant markers are for John Bainbridge and his wife Sarah.

John Bainbridge, born November 2, 1657, in Yorkshire, England, and Sarah Clows, born August 27, 1660, in Cheshire, England, were married at Middletown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on August 15, 1685. When he died on February 14, 1732, his will directed that a marker be erected over his grave "and on it be put the day and year of my death and my age", and another over that of his wife who died the previous year on March 25, 1731.

In keeping with his wishes, the epitaph on his weathered ledger notes “In memory of John Bainbridge, who died 1732, age 75. He was a gentleman of great merit, having the confidence of the people, he was called to fill many important offices in the colony.”

His public career spanned six years from 1710 to 1715 and included positions in both Burlington and Hunterdon counties—remember, there was no Mercer County until it was formed by an act of the state legislature from portions of Burlington, Hunterdon and Middlesex counties in 1838—as high sheriff, justice of the peace, and a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.

John Bainbridge and his wife Sarah are interred in Section A, Lot 387½.

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