The Prescott Cemetery has been called Sandy Hill Cemetery by Prescott's residents for many generations. It came by this name in its founding document, the bequest of Edward Jessup III, grandson of the founder of Prescott, Maj. Edward Jessup. The will of Edward Jessup III, who died in 1831, left the "Sandy Hill north of town at the edge of the swamp", where generations of his family had been buried, to the churches of Prescott in trust. The original bequest from Edward Jessup III only included the part of the hill fronting on Edward Street. That is where the oldest burials are located, including the Jessup family plots at the top of the hill. These Jessup gravestones can be accessed by means of a stone stairway that was installed in 1967 as a project by the Grenville County Historical Society to celebrate Canada's centennial. Near the end of the nineteenth century the cemetery had reached its capacity and the cemetery trustees decided to buy additional land to the west, including the rest of the hill, to accommodate future burials. By the early twentieth century this space had also filled up and additional purchases of contiguous land were made. By 1935 the cemetery had grown to its current configuration.
The Cemetery is one of the oldest operating cemeteries in Ontario. The earliest recorded burial in the cemetery is of Captain Simeon Coville, the father of Edward Jessup III's mother, Susannah Jessup. The names on the monuments tell the history of many of the founding families of Prescott and the generations that followed, who were drawn from successive waves of immigrants that flooded into Canada during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Prescott grew quickly to around 3000 residents in the seventy five years after its founding in 1810 and then more slowly after that (today's population is just over 4000). It has always remained a small town. Prescott's size was limited by its geography, the 1200 acre land grant of Maj. Jessup from the Crown for his loyalty during the American Revolution and the additional land that Susannah Jessup inherited from her father, also a United Empire Loyalist. One result is that the members of many Prescott families intermarried and these relationships can be read on the various monuments in the cemetery. Another is that the cemetery has remained a small cemetery but one which is capable of growth.
By 2010, the churches were no longer able to maintain the cemetery because of the rising costs and the running of it was turned over to the town. Since then the town has appointed volunteer trustees to manage the day-to-day operations of the cemetery. It is open for use by all denominations although the Catholics have had their own cemetery, St. Mark Cemetery, for many years. Prescott Cemetery operates from mid-April until December or the first major snowfall. The well-kept appearance and condition of the cemetery reflects the pride the community takes in its part and the people who have made Prescott what it is today.