CFHS code : BE43

Parish : St Bene’t

Inscription : In Loving Memory of BENJAMIN BROWN d April 16 1877 aged 58 also of REBECCA ANN widow of the above d Jan 21 1907 aged 84 also of ALICE daughter d May 28 1931 aged 77

Monument : Stone cross (base only)/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

The monument in March 2021.


This monument is located roughly 9 rows west of the central path in the parish area of St Bene’t. The metal letters are mostly intact and the cross lies within the grave set.


east face
In Loving Memory of BENJAMIN BROWN died April 16. 1877. Aged 58
Interred at Norwood Cemetery.

north face
Also of REBECCA ANN widow of the above d Jan 21 1907 aged 84

south face
Also of ALICE daughter died May 28. 1931. Aged 77 years

Benjamin Brown (1818 – 16 April 1877)

Benjamin was born in Clare, Suffolk and was the son of Edward and Elizabeth. He was baptised on 30 August 1818 in Clare and was educated at Cavendish Grammar School.  He became a teacher and in 1841 was working as a school in Barnes, before moving to Worthing as Senior Master at College House School. According to family rumours he met his future wife Rebecca Courtney at the school where he was working as the laundress.  He married Rebecca on 19 August 1848 in Worthing, Sussex. and they had at least six children: Edward Wallace (1850-1935), Edith Elizabeth (1852-1940), Alice (1853-1931), Florence (1855-1932), Emily Mary (1858-1860) and Charles Ernest (1858-1940).  In 1851 they were living in Worthing where Benjamin ran a school from Wortley House on the High Street. Wortley House school was described as a ‘gents boarding school’.  Sometime before 1858 they moved to St. John’s Wood where twins Charles and Mary were born.  The same year they moved to Cavendish where Benjamin has been appointed schoolmaster at Cavendish Charity and Grammar School.  Emily died on 21 May 1860 aged 2 years old and Benjamin wrote and had printed a poem in her memory.

Poem written by Benjamin Brown on the death of his daughter Emily

The Suffolk and Essex Free Press reported from the school at the end of 1858  ‘everyone semed so thoroughly satisfied with the system of the newly appointed master…whose ability and cleverness in school management and his attention to his duties has made a marked impression upon the govenernor and feoffee whose choice agurs well for the success of our school’.  However three years later the school went into receivership and as a result the contents were sold in May 1861  to pay creditors.  The sale consisted of all the family’s private furniture (including handsome window curtains, 4 lounge chairs in Morocco, chintz furniture and bedding) as well as the school effects (800 volumes of books, valuable case of maps, 32 iron bedsteads and bedding, 50 pairs of blankets). The auctioneer advertised the sale as ‘the above house and school furniture has been purchased new, regardless of expense within the last three years, and will be sold without reserve’.  Benjamin was dismissed in October 1861 due to ‘his late pecuniary embarassment’. He was requested to leave the school house by 21 December – interesting given all the furniture etc. had already been sold some months before! One wonders wether the death of Emily ad an impact on Benjamin’s running of the school.

His appointment to the Mastership of the Foundation School, Clare was announced in March 1862. It is not known how long he stayed at the school, but he also ran Elgin House School, Shepherd’s Bush for two years before 1868.  By 1871 he was working as a private tutor to the Campbell family in East Budleigh, Devon.  He was noted as a widower despite Rebecca still being alive, and the couple were obviously leading seperate lives at this stage.  In late 1871 he had moved to Grove Villa,Windsor where he also worked as a private tutor.  At Windsor he offered six boarding places at his house for pupils aged 8 to 14, and promised ‘classical, mathematical and general eduction’.   A flyer advertising the school said ‘Mr Brown trusts that an experience of over 25 years, the devotion of his entire time to his pupils, the acknowledged healthfulness of Windsor and its neighbourhood, will enable him to meet the expectations of partents anxious to procure for their sons a sound education combined with a happy home’.  The cost of a place ranged from 50 guineas per year (under 12 years) to 100 guineas (over 16 years).  Benjamin died at Guy’s Hospital, London and was buried in West Norwood Cemetery on 23 April 1877.

Rebecca Ann  Brown  (née Courtney) (c.1823 – 21 January 1907)

Rebecca was born in Brighton and aged 17 was living in Worthing and working for stationer Ann Carter as a library assistant.  She married Benjamin Brown in 1848 when she was c.25 years old. The marriage documents show here father was Edward Carter, husband of Ann – though it is unclear whether this was correct, nor how she came by the surname of Courtney.

In 1871 she was living apart from her husband and working as a domestic nurse in Eastbourne – she was marked on the census records as being widowed. She then moved to live at 33 Trumpington Street with children Alice and Charles and was working as a ‘registering officer’ (believed to be a job linked to Addenbrooke’s Hospital).   She later lived at 40 Norfolk Terrace by herself and died at 98 Thoday St aged 84 years old.

Alice Brown (1853 – 28 May 1931)

Alice was born in Worthing and baptised there on 7 September 1853. In 1871 she was living in Hastings and working as a lady’s maid to Sophia Purkis.  She later became a dressmaker and lived with her mother at Trumpington Street (1881) and then Bodger’s Passage, 12a Sidney Street (1901).  She lived at the Storey’s Almshouses on Shelley Row from at least 1911 onwards and died there in 1931.



Newspaper archives

CFHS parish burial record

Family records/information

by Claire Martinsen

Many thanks to P.B. – great, great grandson of Benjamin and Rebecca Brown for sharing family stories, documentation and research.  We are very grateful for his help.

[If you have any further information about this family, please contact us at]

Alice Brown; Benjamin Brown; Rebecca Ann Brown