The largest tomb, separate from the others, was for the chapel’s use. Boston churches helped the city with charitable burials of almshouse residents, the unclaimed, travelers, sailors, etc. Thus, this tomb was called the Strangers’ Tomb because the buried were strangers to the church or community. It also may have served the purpose of a charnel pit, an enclosure traditionally used to hold remains emptied from elsewhere, or otherwise requiring “storage” or temporary burial. There appear to be 30-50 people in the Strangers’ Tomb, many without names or personal details in the chapel records. Although there are some coffins, some remains are without coffins, and skeletons have collapsed and mingled over time. Left undisturbed, they cannot be counted.
It is also the burial place of the Chevalier de Saint-Sauveur, a French nobleman whose ship, as an ally, was being resupplied in Boston Harbor during the American Revolution. Since there was a food shortage, some Bostonians’ frustration flared into a riot, in which the Chevalier was killed. To prevent a diplomatic crisis, Boston agreed to bury him in the King’s Chapel crypt and to provide a rare Roman Catholic funeral at the tomb door.
The Strangers’ Tomb is the only to be entered after the tombs were bricked up in the 1850s. In 1976, its interior was measured and examined to make sure some HVAC equipment could be safely installed nearby without damaging the tomb. Interior views of this tomb expose its stark contrast to the other, family-owned, ones. The sheer volume of remains, the absence of coffins, and the disarray as time took its toll make this tomb space unique in the crypt.