Old Scots Burying Ground

The Old Scots Burying Ground is a historic cemetery located on Gordon's Corner Road in the Wickatunk section of Marlboro Township, in Monmouth County, New Jersey. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 15, 2001, for its significance in history and religion.[3] The Old Scots Burying Ground is about an acre in size,[4] about 195 feet above sea level[5] and dates back to 1685.[6][7] The total number of burials at the cemetery is not precisely known, suggested by Symms, "There are a large number of graves in Old Scots yard without any inscribed stones".[8] Some reports place the number as at least 100 known graves[9] with most headstones of brown sandstone. However, more recent research using ground penetrating radar reported by the Old Tennent Church in 2001 has put the number of confirmed sites at about 122 graves with a possible 140 more unmarked; placing the number at about 262 total graves in the cemetery.[10] In 1945, in an attempt to clean out the site of vegetation and over-growth, a bulldozer was used on the property and as a result some headstones were dislodged and broken stones removed.[3] The defining structure in the cemetery is a tall monument to Rev. John Boyd, created by the J&R Lamb Company.[11] Built to commemorate the first recorded Presbyterian ordination of Rev. John Boyd.[12] The monument is currently owned by the Synod of the Northeast who holds the property deed but it is maintained by the Old Tennent Church. The last identified burial was in 1977.

Old Scots Burying Ground
Old Scots Burying Ground is located in Monmouth County, New Jersey
Old Scots Burying Ground
Old Scots Burying Ground is located in New Jersey
Old Scots Burying Ground
Old Scots Burying Ground is located in the United States
Old Scots Burying Ground
LocationGordon's Corner Road, Marlboro Township, New Jersey
Coordinates40°20′23″N 74°15′35″W / 40.33972°N 74.25972°W / 40.33972; -74.25972 (Old Scots Burying Ground)
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built1692 (1692)
ArchitectJ & R Lamb Studio
NRHP reference No.01000841[1]
NJRHP No.3777[2]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPAugust 15, 2001
Designated NJRHPJune 19, 2001

Structure on site


Oldest Presbyterian Church


Defined in the beginning by the church that the Presbyterians built; the oldest Presbyterian church,[13] starting with a crude structure of logs in 1692. The location was known as "Free Hill" or "the upper meeting house"[14] and was the site of the first recorded Presbytery session.[15] By 1705[16] a refined church was constructed and a notation in the court record of the location as a "publick meeting house".[17] With Rev. John Boyd as Minister, by 1730 the congregation had grown and the church was removed to Freehold Township.[18] Adjacent to the church was the Old Scots Burying Ground.

Original description


In September 1710, the General Presbytery of Philadelphia wrote a letter to the Presbytery of Dublin Ireland. In the letter they identified the congregation and location of the Old Scots Church. They stated "We have in Jersey only two congregations... one of the two was near freehold, in the province of East Jersey"[19]

The Boyd Monument


In the center of the cemetery is a tall monument of Scottish and Vermont granite and Irish Graystone,[20] surrounded by Scottish thistle carved in the granite.[6] These stones were selected since the men who made up the original Presbytery were from Scotland, Ireland and New England.[21] The monument stands twenty-five feet high,[22] including a 5-foot (1.5 m) spire which was lost in the 1950s. The total cost of the monument was $1300. A fund containing an additional $1000 was raised for the preservation of the monument and care of the grounds. The monument was created in 1899 by the J&R Lamb Company, after submitting the winning design to the Synod committee.[11][23] The monument was refurbished in 2002 and the spire was replaced.[24]

The monument was erected in memory of Rev. John Boyd, the first pastor of the church.[25] In 1915, The Presbyterian Synod added John Tennent's name to the monument.[26] A man made mound-like elevation measuring approximately thirty-feet square and 3.5 feet high, supports a late-nineteenth-century monument situated in the approximate center of the site.[3] The base of the monument states "To the untiring effort of Rev. Allen Henry Brown, which led to the erection of this monument this tablet is set as a memorial by the Synod of New Jersey".[27] On another side of the monument written at the base is "Elder Walter Ker" and under his name is "Acts VIII 4" (Meaning: "Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.")[28]

On one side of the monument there is an inscription: "Erected under the supervision of the Synod of New Jersey in 1899 to recognize the good providence of God in planting the Presbyterian church in this county and to commemorate the first recorded ordination by a Presbytery in the American colonies. The general Presbytery assembling in the Old Scots meeting house on this ground December 1706, ordained John Boyd, who died August 30th 1708 and was buried here."[29] Another side of the monument has a brass plack saying "Continuing in the tradition of John Boyd, The United Presbyterian Church in the USA was formed by merger in 1958, and the Presbyterian church (USA) was formed by merger in 1983. This reaffirmation of our reformed tradition made by the Synod of the Northeast in 2002." This was placed on the monument after the 2002 restoration.

Additionally, the following seals were on the gables of the monument:

  • The seal of the Presbyterian Church of Monmouth County
  • The seal of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America
  • The seal of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland
  • The seal of the Scotch Irish Society

The Monument was to be originally unveiled on October 18, 1899, it was however delayed in shipping and did not arrive on time for that scheduled event forcing the event to be delayed to the spring.[23] The monument was actually unveiled on June 14, 1900 at 11 am.[30]



In 1945, stairs with handrails were added to the site to help ascend to the property from the street.



There are three signs on the property:

  • The Old Tennent Church added a sign to the property at the street which reads: "Old Scots Graveyard 1692 | Original Site of Old Tennent Church."
  • Unknown origin of the sign that reads: "OLD SCOTS MEETING HOUSE: Old Scots Meeting House was built in the year 1692 by Scottish Presbyterians (Calvinists) on this ground known as 'Free Hill.' This sight (sic) was the location of the first recorded Presbytery meeting and the sight (sic) of the first ordination of a Presbyterian minister in North America in the year 1706. Now these Scottish exiles could worship freely in their own fashion. The granite border around the central monument marks the dimension of the small log structure that was the boundary of the Old Scots Meeting House. In 1731, the congregation moved to its present location in Tennent called Old Tennent Church."
  • Marlboro Township Historic Commission added a sign to the site that reads: "Scottish settlers established a Presbyterian meeting house and cemetery on this site in 1692. John Boyd, the first Presbyterian minister trained in the New World and the first pastor of the church, was buried here in 1708. The church was moved five miles away in 1731 and became Old Tennent Church. In 2001, this cemetery was listed in the National and State Registers of Historic Places."



There was an episode of reported vandalism on March 25, 1994. At that time there were several smashed tombstones and some tombstones were removed from the mounts.[31]



The first recorded interest in restoration of the site was in 1883 when Gideon C. McDowell (A local farmer and member of the State Potato Association[32]) encountered the site and was specifically interested in the gravestone of Rev. Boyd. When McDowell first encountered the stone it was "in a neglected state and covered with lichens". He cleaned the stone at that time of the lichens.[3] There have been a number of additional site restorations over the years:

  • In 1898, The site was restored and overgrowth was removed. The cemetery was prepared for 600 people to visit and have a pilgrimage.
  • In 1931, the site was again cleared out of overgrowth and groomed for a pending pilgrimage.
  • In 1945, The site was again overgrown. At that time, the site surface was scraped with a bulldozer to remove overgrowth and vegetation. Some damage to the cemetery was done at that time including dislodging gravestones and removing partial fallen stones from some of the grave sites.
  • In 2000, vegetation and growth was removed from the cemetery to accomplish scientific testing.
  • In 2002, attention was again given to the cemetery. Specifically, the central monument was the focus of the restoration. The budget for the Old Scots Burying Ground was $13,000 for the restoration. The funds were supplied by the Monmouth Count Historic Commission, Old Tennent Cemetery and the Presbyterian Synod of the Northeast. Most of the funds were used to replace a five foot spire, lost in the 1950s. It was recreated and put back on the Boyd Monument. Records suggest it was removed for cleaning in the 1950s, but never put back on due to the company going bankrupt in the process and the original spire was lost. A re-dedication of the monument was conducted by Charles Vasbinder on October 17, 2002. There were almost 60 people in attendance.[33]

Archaeological site surveys


The first site survey was done in December 2000, a site survey was conducted using electronic metal detecting equipment. The survey uncovered 15 artifacts, of note are 2 matching coffin handles from the 19th century and one ornate coffin handle with the embossment, "Our Darling," was recovered near the Reid family gravemarker. This marker represents three burials: James Reid (1828-1904), Hannah Reid (1829-1899) and Emma Reid (1852-1869). It is possible that this handle became dislodged from one of the Reid coffins, perhaps the one belonging to Emma Reid, who predeceased both of her parents.

The second archaeological investigations to be conducted at the cemetery was in 2001. Two passes with ground penetrating radar (GPR) were done on the cemetery site. On February 2 and again on February 17, 2001 a number of passes were done. At that time, the GPR identified 137 possible burial sites. The GPR survey also identified two areas where the original meeting house may have been located. One area is adjacent east of the monument mound and the other is adjacent west of the monument mound.

As part of the 2001 survey, a total of 11 shovel tests were performed east of the monument mound. They found Twenty-two artifacts including window glass, nails and a clay pipe stem fragment. Testing in an area west of the monument mound, uncovered the remains of an intact dry-laid foundation wall approximately two-feet wide. Artifacts recovered include several fragments of shell-tempered mortar, a hand-tooled bottle finish, and a quartzite fire-cracked-rock (FCR) fragment.

Old Scots Burying Ground is considered a State archaeological site and on January 22, 2001; was issued number 28-Mo-294 by the New Jersey State Museum. It has been determined that in addition to the use of the property as a church and cemetery, it is possible that American Indian groups my have utilized this site as well.[3]

Boundary description


(4) South 12 degrees 57 minutes West, along the westerly outline of said burying ground 211 9/10 feet to a cedar stake at the most westerly corner of the burying ground; thence (5) South 81 degrees 03 minutes East 208 93/100 feet to an iron pipe set in the most southerly corner of said burying ground; thence (6) North 16 degrees 57 minutes East along the easterly outline of said Scotch Burying Ground 208 31/100 feet to a bolt set in the center of the gravel road leading to Englishtown, known as Gordon's Corner Road.[34]

Removed headstones

  • Rev. John Boyd - The headstone was removed to the Philadelphia Presbytery for preservation.[35] It is a table stone five feet in length, originally laid horizontally on a bed of stone and lime.[36] When removed it was encased in a wooden frame made from locust trees grown at Old Scots, and displayed at the Library of the Presbyterian Historical Society.[37]

Pilgrimages To Old Scots

  • On June 4, 1895,[38] seven hundred pilgrims of the Presbyterian Synod came to the burial ground to commemorate Rev. John Boyd's life and the start of church at that location. They came to the grave location of the first Pastor of the church (Rev. John Boyd) at Old Scots Cemetery.[39] It was during this pilgrimage that the request for a monument to Boyd was made. Rev. Allen Brown was appointed by the Synod to raise the money required for the erection of the monument.[40] The initial request was to build a "stone camopy over the crumbling tombstone", but the monument seemed to be more practical.[41]
  • On April 12, 1931, Heads of the church and Presbyterians from "all over the East" participated in a pilgrimage. This was to celebrate the 225th anniversary of the ordination of Rev. John Boyd.[42]
  • On July 6, 1942, a pilgrimage to Old Scots Burying Ground was made by the members of the Old Tennent Church for an address by Rev. George Horn and Rev. Hutchinson.[43]

List of people known to be buried

List of People
Last Name First Name Age at Death Date of Death Inscription / Additional Detail Reference
Craig Archibald 73 March 6, 1751 He was called Captain Craig [44][45]
Henderson John 74 January 1, 1771 He was the first

president of the board of trustees at Old Tennent Church || [46]

Craig Mary 69 November 1, 1752 [45]
Boyd Rev. John 26 August 30, 1708 First Pastor of Old Scots Church - Original Tombstone removed to the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia [47][48]
Forman Jonathan 74 December 28, 1762 Was a judge of the court of common pleas for Monmouth County - son of Samuel Forman and Mary Wilbore. [44][49][50]
Redford Margaret 72 December 21, 1765 [4][49]
Redford William 84 1726 [4]
Van Dorn Elinor 20 May 22, 1733 "Here Lies Interr'd the body of Elinor, Wife of Abraham Van Dorn and Daughter of Jonathan and Margaret Forman, Who departed this life my the 22 Day Annoq. Domini 1733 Aged twenty years and five months" [49]
Tennent John Rev. 23 April 23, 1732 Pastor of Tennent Church *(See below) [51][52]
Probasco Abraham 69 November 30, 1806 Husband of Nellie [53]
Probasco Nellie 69 September 9, 1806 Wife of Abraham [53]
Probasco Margaret 77 June 27, 1844 Daughter of Abraham & Nellie [53]
Clark Richard 70 May 16, 1733 Born in Scotland February 10, 1663 [54]
Probasco Sarah 63 August 4, 1828 Daughter of Abraham & Nellie [53]
Henderson Michael August 23, 1722 [55]
Wyckoff Margaret 72 December 21, 1765 [50]
Conover Ira Son of Garret I. Conover and Sarah Schenck [56]
Snyder Mary Nee Quackenbush - Wife of Hendrick [57][58]
Snyder Hendrick [57]
Watson Richard [59]
Henderson Jane 19 1722 "The first Child ever the Revd. Mr. John Tennent Baptized." - Daughter of John [60]
Hanah Amy Wife of John Hanah [8]
Boice John [8]
Boice Jane [8]
Quackenbush Jacob Son of William [61]
Quackenbush Experience [61]
Reid James 80 1904 [3]
Reid Hannah 70 1899 [3]
Reid Emma 17 1869 [3]
  • * Rev. John Tennent Inscription : "Here Lyes what was mortal of | The Rev'd Mr. John Tennent | Nat. Nov 12, 1707, Obijt April 23, 1732 | Who quick grew old in Learning, Vertue, Grace, | Quick finished well yielded to Death's Embrace | 'Whose molded dust this cabinet contains | Whose soul triumphant with bright scraphim reigns, | Waiting the time till Heaven's bright Concave flame | and ye last trump repairs this ruined frame | [Unreadable] morienque queramurae verbam | Mers matura vinit cumbona Vita fuit" - composed by the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Dickinson - Pastor of First Presbyterian Church Elizabeth 1708 - 1747.[52]

See also



  1. ^ "National Register Information System – (#01000841)". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. November 2, 2013.
  2. ^ "New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places - Monmouth County" (PDF). New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection - Historic Preservation Office. March 23, 2021. p. 11.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Scharfenberger, Gerry P. (March 2001). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Old Scots Burying Ground". National Park Service. With accompanying 26 photos
  4. ^ a b c Frank Rosebrook Symmes, History of the Old Tennent Church: With Biographical Sketches of Its Pastors, 1897, Page 18
  5. ^ "Early Church and Graveyards in Monmouth", The Red Bank Register, December 23, 1937, Page 5
  6. ^ a b "Scottish Clans to Gather to Play Highland Games", Asbury Park Press, September 3, 1936, Page 21
  7. ^ "Halloween Activity Ancient Pagan Rites", Asbury Park Press, October 30, 1983, Page 20
  8. ^ a b c d Symmes, Frank Rosebrook, History of Old Tennent Church, 1905, page 260
  9. ^ "Work is Completed on Old Scots Cemetery", Asbury Park Press, March 12, 1951, Page 1
  10. ^ "churchhistory".
  11. ^ a b "Gods Acre", The Assembly Herald, Volume 3, Issue 6, Page 157
  12. ^ Unveil Monument to Presbyterians, Asbury Park Press, 15 Jun 1909, Page 1
  13. ^ "Middletown, Most Ancient of Settlements, was Cradle of Monmouth County History", Asbury Park Press, Nov 14 1948, Page 5
  14. ^ "The Monument to Religious Liberty", The Red Bank Register, July 4, 1940, page 5
  15. ^ Helen Henderson, Matawan and Aberdeen: Of Town and Field, 2003. Page 33
  16. ^ "Old Tennent to Celebrate 250th Year As Congregation with Ceremonies", Asbury Park Press', June 14, 1942, Page 11
  17. ^ "Presbyterians", Matawan Journal, October 13, 1960, Page 12
  18. ^ "Historic old Tennent Church, Asbury Park Press, May 2, 1986, Page 93
  19. ^ "Presbyterians Unveil Shaft", Matawan Journal, June 17, 1909, Page 1
  20. ^ "Old Scots Monument", New York Times, June 4, 1899
  21. ^ "A Monument at Old Scots", The Freehold Transcript and Monmouth Inquirer, Freehold NJ, May 13, 1898, Page 7
  22. ^ "Monument Unveiling", Matawan Journal, May 31, 1900, page 4
  23. ^ a b "The Monument Not Here", Matawan Journal, October 12, 1899, Page 4
  24. ^ "Historic Monument Honors Minister", Asbury Park Press, November 7, 2002, Page 48
  25. ^ "Little Known Today of History of Pre-Revolution Topanemus", Asbury Park Press, December 25, 1949, Page 5
  26. ^ "Memorial Tablet For Rev. John Tennent", Asbury Park Press, February 25, 1915, Page 6
  27. ^ Veteran Minister Dead, The Matawan Journal, November 14, 1907, Page 2
  28. ^ "Bible Gateway passage: Acts 8:4 - New International Version".
  29. ^ "Poet's Birthday Feast", Red Bank Register, February 1, 1928, Page 1
  30. ^ "John Boyd Monument", Matawan Journal, June 7, 1900, page 1
  31. ^ Somers, Terri, May 1994, "Reward Posted in Cemetery Vandalism", Asbury Park Press, Page 20
  32. ^ Market Growers Journal, Volumes 22-23, January 1, 1918, page 419
  33. ^ Jonathan Rifkin, "Historic Monument Honors Minister", Asbury Park Press, November 7, 2002, Page 48
  34. ^ Deed Book 3079,1961:396-397 dated June 30, 1961 : lot transfer between Raymond McDowell and Maude McDowell and Joseph Stenger, Elizabeth Stenger, Paul Krautheim and Tessie Krautheim
  35. ^ McCauley, Hugh B., The Old Scots Memorial. MacRellish and Quigley, Trenton, NJ, 1900, Page 6
  36. ^ Henry Goodwin Smith, The History of the "Old Scots "Church of Freehold. Transcript Printing House, Freehold, NJ, 1895, Page 28
  37. ^ Symmes, Frank R, History of the Old Tennent Church. George W. Burroughs, Cranbury, NJ., 1904, Page 67
  38. ^ To Honor Scotch Exiles, The Matawan Journal, March 31, 1989, Page 2
  39. ^ "Latter Day Pilgrimage", New York Times, June 5, 1895
  40. ^ "Veteran Minister Dead", The Matawan Journal, November 14, 1907, Page 2
  41. ^ "20 Years Ago", Asbury Park Press, March 13, 1915, Page 6
  42. ^ "Tennent Pilgrimage", Asbury Park Press, April 6, 1931
  43. ^ Tennent Church 250 Years Old. Red Bank Register, June 25, 1942, Page 4
  44. ^ a b Frank Rosebrook Symmes, History of the Old Tennent Church: With Biographical Sketches of Its Pastors, 1897, Page 19
  45. ^ a b "Genealogy and Local History", The Matawan Journal, January 5, 1939, Page 2
  46. ^ Symmes, Frank Rosebrook, History of Old Tennent Church, 1905, page 20
  47. ^ William Nelson, The New Jersey Coast in Three Centuries: History of the New Jersey ..., Volume 2, 1902, Page 173
  48. ^ "To Honor Scotch Exiles", The Matawan Journal, March 31, 1898, Page 2
  49. ^ a b c Abraham Van Doren Honeyman, The Van Doorn Family: (Van Doorn, Van Dorn, Van Doren, Etc.) in ..., Issue 400, 1909, Page 78
  50. ^ a b "Genealogy", Red Bank Register, July 19, 1945, Page 24
  51. ^ Alvin Cliver, "Little Known Today of History of Pre-Revolution Tomanemus", Asbury Park Press, December 25, 1949, Page 5
  52. ^ a b "Rev. John Tennent", The Matawan Journal, October 22, 1914, Page 2
  53. ^ a b c d "Old Names in Monmouth County", Matawan Journal, April 4, 1963, Page 3
  54. ^ "New Aberdeen", Matawan Journal, May 10, 1900, Page 3
  55. ^ "Early Churches and Graveyards in Monmouth", Red Bank Register, December 28, 1937, Page 5
  56. ^ "Genealogy", Red Bank Register, December 11, 1941, Page 21
  57. ^ a b "Genealogy", Red Bank Register, May 19, 1938, Page 2
  58. ^ "Genealogy", Red Bank Register, July 28, 1938, Page 5
  59. ^ Symmes, Frank Rosebrook, History of Old Tennent Church, 1905, page 32
  60. ^ Symmes, Frank Rosebrook, History of Old Tennent Church, 1905, page 76
  61. ^ a b Symmes, Frank Rosebrook, History of Old Tennent Church, 1905, page 456