St. Peter’s Church was the first Anglican church in Salem founded in 1733/34. The church’s original structure along with its replacement, the facade you see today, was built on land donated by Philip English, a wealthy Salem trading merchant.
English was not well liked by his community for a number of reasons, including that he was a follower of the very religion Puritans removed themselves from (Anglicanism) and he supported Royal Governor Edmund Andros, who was so disliked by New England Puritans that he was eventually viewed as a symbol of their oppression.
He and his wife Mary were accused of witchcraft in April 1692, and upon examination were held for trial. With the help of Boston reverends Samuel Willard and Joshua Moody, the couple was able to escape to New York where they remained until the Salem Witch Trials came to an end.
When English returned to Salem the following year, he learned that his belongings had been confiscated and his home looted, causing him to spent the rest of his life suing anyone involved in an attempt to get his property back.
A symbol of his lifelong opposition with Puritanism, he donated the land for St. Peter’s church only a couple of years prior to his death in 1736. The tombstones you see in front of the church were originally located behind the church, however a chapel was added over the site of the graves in 1871, so the stones were moved forward (the remains are still under the chapel). Among the remains, are those of Philip English (though no stone bears his name).
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