, Derry, New Hampshire


April 16, 2008

Rick Holmes: A Loyalist's grave


Sir Philip (c1703-1791) had been born in Germany and immigrated to Boston. In 1746 he was an army surgeon in the British expedition against Louisburg on Cape Breton Island. In 1764 he received an official thank-you from the city of Boston for treating 150 patients without charge during a smallpox epidemic. How and where he received his title "sir" is not known.

During the 1760s, the two Philip Godfried Kasts appear to have moved to Salem, Mass. There, one or both of them operated an apothecary shop that was called The Lyon and Mortar. It was advertised as selling the "best of drugs, medicines, and spices ... alum, logwood, redwood, copperas, brimstone, indigo as cheap as they can be purchased in Boston." Kast also proudly advertised he sold "the famous anodyne necklace" that was used as a teething device by the children of Queen Caroline. Kast said, "a mother would never forgive herself whose child should die for want of so easy a remedy for their teeth."

The doctors Kast were very popular and trusted in Salem. In 1772, a convicted rapist, while standing on the gallows, sold his body to one of the doctors to be used for dissection to help teach medical students. Soon, however, the fervor of the coming Revolutionary War threatened the Kasts' position in Salem.

The Kasts were Loyalists. In 1774, P.G. Kast signed an address to British Gen. Thomas Gage which "praises his Majesty's parental care and affection" toward the Bay State, despite the fact that Gage was there to enforce the draconian Boston Port Act. After the Battle of Lexington and Concord in 1775, Gage used Dr. Thomas Kast to care for a wounded officer. Later, however, Kast would join the Patriot cause.

In 1775, the streets of Salem were filled with Patriotic mobs. The Kasts were forced to flee for their lives. They first settled in Hopkinton. Soon afterward, Sir Philip moved to Haverhill, Mass., where he lived till his death in 1701. His son Philip moved to Derry/Londonderry around 1778 and died there in 1781. His elaborate gravestone was probably carved in coastal Massachusetts. Why the omission of a year of death on the stone? My theory is that the administrator of the estate wrote to the carver that Kast died on Sept. 6 and though the artesian would know he meant the year 1781. The carver did not want to ruin the stone with a mistake so he cut into the stone "He departed this life September 6, 17—." I imagine he thought the last two numbers could be put in by a local mason. They never were.

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