Bones of Contention: St. Margaret’s, St. Anne’s, and the Exhumation of Sir Robert Eden
Presented by Michael P. Parker, Professor of English (Ret.), United States Naval Academy
The mania for assembling colonial tombstones in St. Anne’s Churchyard, Annapolis, culminated in June 1926 with the translation, not of another stone, but of human remains: those of the last pre-revolutionary governor of Maryland, Sir Robert Eden. Lawyer and antiquary Daniel Randall crowned his three-year search for the bones in the ruined church of St. Margaret’s Westminster by commissioning an elaborate stone to mark the new grave and planning a grand re-interment ceremony. The Eden translation relied extensively on forensic analysis and public pageantry to secure national and even international validation for the groups that supported it. The reburial, however, ignited a noisy public dispute between the parishes of St. Margaret’s and St. Anne’s that soured Randall’s triumph and raised questions about the bones that remain unanswered to this day.
Mike Parker taught English at the United States Naval Academy for 38 years until his retirement in 2018. He has published extensively on early seventeenth-century poetry as well as on the history of Annapolis. With Professor Tim Raylor of Carleton College, he is currently completing an edition of the poetry of Edmund Waller for Oxford University Press. He is also putting the finish touches on the biography of Waller left unfinished by the late John Safford.