The hand that belonged to John Hancock

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THIS MEMORIAL ERECTED

A. D. MDCCCXCV  BY THE COM

MONWEALTH OF MASSACHU

SETTS TO MARK THE GRAVE OF

JOHN HANCOCK

 

An impressive stele in the Granary Burying Ground marks the grave of John Hancock (January 23, 1737-October 8, 1793).  The stele is the tallest tombstone in the cemetery and replaced Hancock’s original gravestone which had deteriorated and disappeared. The stele is topped with the Hancock family crest which includes a pictogram of the family name and the Latin phrase which means “resist the beginnings”.  The memorial also includes a bas-relief portrait of a young and dashing looking John Hancock surrounded in laurel wreath.

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According to legend, the revolutionary patriot John Hancock, the first to sign the Declaration of Independence, signed his name large enough so that ol’ King George III would be able to see it without putting on his spectacles.  That signature is now arguably the most famous in American history.  And, you know you have quite a signature when your name becomes a synonym for signature!

That hand, the one that signed the Declaration of Independence, was later cut off by grave robbers.  When Hancock died he had the largest funeral in Massachusetts history up ’till that point and was buried by his wife in his finest clothes and jewelry.  As the story is told, grave robbers tried to pry the rings from his fingers but struggled.  When they didn’t slip off easily, they cut off his hand apparently to take them off later at a more secluded spot.

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One Response to The hand that belonged to John Hancock

  1. Pingback: Cemetery of the Week #61: Granary Burying Ground | Cemetery Travel: Adventures in Graveyards Around the World

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