The Arnold Burying Ground was founded in 1677 by Governor Benedict Arnold, the first Governor of the State of Rhode Island. Today, the burying ground contains the graves of Governor Arnold and his wife and more than 50 of their relatives; the last burial occurred in 1834. The site was originally located in the apple orchard of the Governor’s nine-acre property, which extended south of Mill Street from modern-day Thames Street to Touro Park.
Following the Revolutionary War, the property was confiscated by the state from Governor Arnold’s descendant Thomas Bannister, a Tory, resulting in an extended period of disrepair. In 1857, Captain Augustus Littlefield, the owner of the surrounding properties, unsuccessfully attempted to relocate the remains and gravestones to the Newport Common Burying Ground. Littlefield dismantled and buried the entire site, and it lay all but forgotten for nearly a century.
In 1946, Alice Brayton purchased the property at auction sight unseen, having heard that it was the location of Governor Arnold’s grave. She and John Howard Benson, proprietor of the John Stevens Shop, organized the restoration of the site over the next several years. They unearthed and reset sixty-four stones in all, many discovered nearly six feet underground. Nearly all of the gravestones had been carved by the John Stevens Shop, one of the oldest continuously operating businesses in the country (founded in 1705) and a source of some of the finest colonial stone carvings in the region. Ms. Brayton published an account of her efforts to rescue the graveyard in her book The Burying Place of Governor Arnold in 1960. The site was given to The Preservation Society of Newport County in 1953.