Sometimes, we overstate it when we call something a “ceremony of truly historic significance”.
Not in this case. On Saturday, July 2, 2011, a ceremony of “truly historic significance” took place at the resting site of Lady Alice Boteler Fenwick in Cypress Cemetery on Saybrook Point. Following the 2009 restoration of the gravesite of Lady Fenwick by Gravestone Preservationist Jonathan Appell, the descendants of Matthew Griswold I (left) presented a check in the amount of $3400 to Association President James W. Cahill in order to reimburse the Cypress Cemetery Association for the costs of the restoration. Through this donation, the Griswold family honored a 362 year old obligation agreed upon between Colonel George Fenwick and Matthew Griswold I upon the death of Fenwick’s wife, Lady Fenwick, in 1645. In accepting the donation, President Cahill thanked Matthew X and the rest of the family (right) and expressed the hope that the historic partnership will continue many years into the future.
Original historic documents and an old newspaper article tell the story that, in return for being granted “Black Hall Estate” across the Connecticut River in what is now Old Lyme by Colonel Fenwick, original Saybrook Colony settler Matthew Griswold and his descendants were “obliged to keep [the tomb] in Repair and Considern [sic] of Black Hall Estate. ” As a result, the Board of Directors turned to Griswold’s 10th generation descendant Matthew Griswold X and his family for assistance in the restoration.
The photo at left shows Lady Fenwick’s gravestone post-restoration. Note that when the stone was carved from red Portland sandstone, Lady Fenwick’s death was erroneously recorded as 1648. Records indicate that her death actually occurred in 1645. Legend has it that Matthew Griswold I is buried just tens of feet from Lady Fenwick’s grave in an unknown location under College Street. Family members confirmed that they did not have a record of where Matthew I is buried, so his final resting place may indeed be consistent with legend.