Joseph Weld

Historical Biographies

Weld headstone

“The Weld family plot had no detail, unless it is under the moss on the ground stone. There did not appear to be any engraving, however, and the ground stone surface is very rough–it didn’t seem conducive to engraving. Given the age of the grave, it is likely that whatever headstone might have existed with names and dates has long since deteriorated or been removed. There is not one other headstone in the burial ground with “Weld” as the name, nor are there any headstones dating back to the 1600s. Most are from the late 1700s and 1800s.”–Information provided by Find A Grave user LBateman, 11/02/2013.

Weld Family

The Weld family of Massachusetts has included state governors, Harvard benefactors, and other notable figures. The progenitor in America was Captain Joseph Weld (1599-1646). He was born in England and came to New England in about 1633 during the migration of Puritan colonists to Massachusetts Bay. He was granted 278 acres of land in the town of Roxbury for his service as a captain in the Pequot War (1636-1638). His grant included portions of present day Jamaica Plain and Roslindale—land on which the Arnold Arboretum is located today. Weld was an aide to Governor John Winthrop and a deputy to the Massachusetts General Court.

In 1711, Joseph Weld and 44 other men organized the Second Church of Christ on Walter Street. The church once stood on Peters Hill, and behind it to the south, the church burying ground was created. This 0.81-acre parcel is one of Boston’s 15 historic cemeteries and although it is under the purview of the Boston Parks Department, its grounds are maintained by the Arboretum. Few headstones remain, but there are ten Welds, including two who fought in the Revolutionary War and their wives and children, who are buried in this location.

One of his sons, Captain John Weld, inherited his estate and built his home, Weld Hall, on what came to be called Weld Hill, a piece of land across the street from the present-day Forest Hills MBTA station. This parcel is not to be confused with what we now call Weld Hill at the Arboretum—a 14-acre, Harvard-owned parcel which is bounded by Weld and Walter Streets across from Peters Hill (named after Andrew James Peters, a member of the United States House of Representatives from 1907 to 1914, and the Mayor of Boston, Massachusetts from 1918 to 1922).

After Lieutenant Eleazer Weld died in 1800, fellow Revolutionary War veteran Benjamin Bussey purchased approximately 120 acres of the original Weld holdings. Forty years later, Bussey bequeathed this land to Harvard.

Lehmer, Mary. “The Walter Street ‘Berrying’ Ground.” Arnoldia 21(12), 1961 [pdf].