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):

This entry was posted in Cemeteries, Genealogy, History of Sandwich. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to The Saddle and Pillion Graves

  1. Lynda J Hylander says:

    Visited here today… Edmond is my 10th great grandfather…

    • Stan Freeman says:

      10th?

      I think he’s my 14th or 15th???

      We must be some kind of cousins!!

    • Rhonda says:

      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. Alexander Theroux says:

    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…

    • Rhonda says:

      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?

      • donbayley/Webmaster says:

        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.


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