The Saddle and Pillion Graves

(Updated 6/25/21 by Don Bayley)

Edmond Freeman, one of the Ten Men from Saugus and the founder of Sandwich is buried here with his wife Elizabeth.

He sailed with his 2nd wife Elizabeth, 4 children from his first marriage on the “Abigail” which left Plymouth, Devon, England on 4 June 1635. There was an outbreak of smallpox on this ship during the crossing. The family arrived in Boston Harbor on 8 Oct 1635. They first settled in Saugus which is now called Lynn, MA. Admitted freeman at Plymouth, MA on 23 January 1637. He was the assistant to Gov. Bradford 1640-1647 and the principle founder of the town of Sandwich, Barnstable, MA in 1637.

Freeman settled on his homestead about a mile and a quarter east of the present Town Hall on the sloping land leading from what is now Tupper Road down to the Cape Cod Canal. (Most of the former Freeman land is now occupied by the NRG power plant.) They lived out their lives here and when Elizabeth passed away on February 14, 1676, Edmond buried her on a hill on their farm. He marked her grave with a large stone likening to a pillion (a British term for the seat behind the saddle on a horse). With foresight, Edmond also positioned a large stone that resembled a saddle to be used as a monument for his own grave. Family tradition tells us that the headstones reminded Edmond of the early years in Sandwich when he and Elizabeth traveled by horseback over the fields of their farm. Edmond Freeman died in 1682 and was buried beside Elizabeth, the longer stone, “the saddle,” was placed over his grave.

The burial place became known as the Saddle and Pillion Cemetery and is the oldest burying ground in Sandwich. Bronze plaques were added to these stones in 1910 by their descendants. The cemetery is located a short distance north of the end of Wilson Avenue and a marker has been placed on the south side of Tupper Road just before it intersects with Rt. 6A. VIEW MAP

Saddle and Pillion Graves
Saddle and Pillion Graves

At one time these graves were encircled by a stone fence, remnants of which were still visible in the late 1800’s. The beautiful bronze tablets which are presently on these stone monuments were placed there on August 22, 1910 by members of the Freeman family, descendants of Edmond.

Article on the Freeman graves in Towns of New England and Old England, Ireland and Scotland, Volumes 1-2
By State Street Trust Company, Boston, Allan Forbes

The website Find A Grave lists the Freeman Family tree as follows (click the pic to go to the site):

9 thoughts on “The Saddle and Pillion Graves

  1. According to research that my father Janes Freeman did prior to my birth in 1970, Edmond is my 5th great grandfather. My father died in 1974 but I have his notebook with his notes. I will be in Boston in September and I’m hoping to visit these graves, as my father took a photo of each one that I have looked at for as long as I can remember and I’ve always wanted to stand there in person.

    1. Edmund Freeman is my 9th grandfather. I descend from his daughter Elizabeth (1623-1692) who married John Ellis (1620-1676) if my dates are correct and their son John Ellis. Not sure who came before John in 1623 yet.

    2. Edmond is my 10th great grandfather. To visit the place we’re we Freemans settled in the New World is something on my bucket list.

  2. More should be made by Cape Cod of this fascinating American couple and their extraordinary grave. I visited the place today and seems neglected, strewn with fallen limbs…

    1. That is a shame thought of visiting and here that there is a power plant where they used to make their home and now you say the cemetery is not in good shape. Wonder as to rest of town and condition of historical places. Any news on that?

      1. Bill Daley replies:
        It has been more than a year since I have been at the Saddle and Pillion burying area. However, when I was there I took several pictures which are posted here. At the time, the area was in excellent condition. I will drop by there again very shortly.
        Sandwich and its residents have done an excellent job with historical preservation and the historical area is in terrific condition.


      2. It seems to sadly be disappearing. Unsure now of whos who line time as the 9 sandwhich house is one my family has been in seemingly 300 years or considered the oldest one of all, and actually Trowbridge ( believe a fam name, corporation…entity lol…that had the land before, odd as interesting, yet he is updating the entire historical area. As intuition has showed me, as drawn me to the political shenanigans and if seems oldest to those whom know, yet he just comes and says knock it down, or let it follow ancestor lines as to move it to Connecticut…sad, as I spent so much time there in my summers with my grandfather showing me around, growing up with a special energy now at 36 can see really how special as well the love of the older ways or fashion as heritage it contained! Can hope for the best! Blessings to many some how Relative’s posting here!!!

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