This large stone is located near the southeast corner of the Church Grounds. Its size and style strongly suggest this was not an upright headstone like the majority of markers in this lot, but a slab to cover an in-ground burial vault (not too unlike those still found in the New York City Marble Cemetery). It was part of the removal from the State Street Burying Grounds where it most likely covered a vault constructed to hold a single burial.
The slab is white marble (which has darkened to gray) and is of a very simple design. Parts of the beveled edges have chipped and the inscription is very difficult – but not impossible – to partly decipher and match against the list of names published by the Common Council when the State Street Burying Ground was closed and its graves transferred here.
Reverend Thomas Ellison, A.M. of Queen’s College, Oxford, Great Britain, one of the Regents of the University of this State, and for 15 years rector of St. Peter’s Church. April 26th, 1802. 43 years.
As the rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and a member of the city’s Masonic Lodge, the English-born Ellison was a key figure in post-Revolutionary Albany society. The People of Colonial Albany social history project has a brief biography of Ellison whose students included novelist James Fennimore Cooper and who was credited for his role in preventing the further spread of the great fire which heavily damaged Albany in 1793
Ellison died after an illness in 1802. At the time, work had begun on a new St. Peter’s Church designed by architect Philip Hooker whose restored headstone is just steps away from Ellison’s stone.
This is one of two vault cover slabs found in the Church Grounds; there is also a brown sandstone slab in the Dutch Reformed section. A stone very similar to Ellison’s can be found on the North Ridge on the grave of a John Van Schaick.