CFHS code : ED2

Parish : St Edward

Inscription : To the Memory of JOHN BELL BROWN d 22 Jan 1875 aged 18 years 6 months also JOHN BROWN d 28 Feb 1909 aged 85 also ELIZABETH ANNIE BROWN d 27 July 1914 aged 89

Monument : Headstone

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.203065, 0.13753712 – click here for location

Brown headstone 2017


This distinctively shaped headstone with scalloped sides, rounded and decorated shoulders and a pointed peak, standing on a plinth, in the parish area of St Edward, is located beside the central path on its west side, about 20 yards north of the centre circle. Unusually, the first seven words, including two first names, are in a curved arrangement.


To the loving memory of John Bell Brown
who died January 22 1875 aged 18 years 6 months

Also John Brown died Feb 28 1909 aged 85 years

Also of Elizabeth Annie Brown died July 27 1914 aged 89 years

John Bell Brown was the son of John and Elizabeth Annie Brown.

The St Edward grave book shows four other members of the Brown family, Edward, William, Mary and Thomas, to have been buried in the space between this monument and the adjacent one of Henry Sheen at depths of 9, 8, 7 and 6 feet, where no monument now exists.

John Bell Brown (1856‒75)

John Bell was born in Cambridge on 29 June 1856, and baptised in St Edward’s Church on 14 December of that year, the son of John Brown, tailor and robemaker, and his wife Elizabeth Anne.  The family lived at 13 King’s Parade.  He seems to have had only one sibling: Edward Branford Brown (c.1855‒).

John Bell died in Cambridge on 22 January 1875 at the age of 18, and his body was buried on the 27th of that month in Mill Road Cemetery, in row XXXIII of the parish area of St Edward, plot 4 at a depth of 9 feet.  The burial register gives his address at the time of death as Bateman Street (New Town).

John Brown (c.1824‒1909)

The commonness of John’s name makes it difficult to be sure of his origins, other than that he was born in Cambridge. However, a John Brown was born there in January 1824, and was baptised at the Wesleyan Church in Cambridge on 17 September 1826, his parents being William and Mary Brown.

The 1841 census has William Brown, tailor, and his wife Mary, living on Bridge Street, Cambridge, with three sons, the youngest of whom was John, aged 15.  This identification is confirmed by the 1851 census, which shows that William had moved his premises to 13 King’s Parade (opposite the east end of King’s College Chapel) and now employed six men in the business;  and that his three sons, Thomas (c.1821‒95), Edward (c.1823‒53) and John were all now tailors and robe makers.  William and Mary also had a daughter, Frances (c.1830‒), and were able to afford a female house servant.

John married Elizabeth Anne Branford of Gaywood, Norfolk (see below) in the second quarter of 1854 in Mitford, Norfolk.  By 1861, the couple were living at 13 King’s Parade, John was head of household, brother Thomas also lived there, and John and Elizabeth already had their only two children: Edward Branford (for more, see below) and John Bell (see above).

John’s brother Edward died in June 1853, aged 30. His father William died in January 1862 aged 70, and mother Mary in March 1873 aged 85 (address at death: Brunswick Place).  Later, his brother Thomas was to die in February 1895, aged 74 (address at death: 67 Norwich Road).  All four were buried in the neighbouring plot to that of John Bell, John and Elizabeth (i.e. XXXIII/3), which is now unmarked.

The death of their younger son John Bell in 1875 aged 18 must have been a great shock to John and Elizabeth, who continued to run the business (now 5 King’s Parade) until some time after 1901.  After that they moved to 123 Mawson Road (Petersfield ward).

John died on 28 February 1909 at the age of 86.  His body was buried on 4 March in Mill Road Cemetery, in row XXXIII of the St Edward parish area, in plot 4 at a depth of 8 feet.  Elizabeth outlived him by a little over five years.

Elizabeth Annie Brown (née Branford) (c.1825‒1914)

In the census returns for 1861, 1871 and 1891, Elizabeth’s birthplace is given as Gaywood, Norfolk (a village near King’s Lynn, now a suburb).  An Elizabeth Anne Branford was baptised in King’s Lynn, Norfolk on 25 July 1825.  She was the daughter of William Branford, coachman, and his wife Ann Marton.  That family moved to Cambridge in 1836 or 1837, and by 1841 was living at George Street, Chesterton.  By then Elizabeth had three siblings: Emily (c.1828‒), William (c.1835‒) and Benjamin (c.1838‒).  William and Ann were to have one further child:  Fanny (c.1842‒).

Some time between 1841 and 1850 father William died, and the family then moved back to Norfolk.  By 1851 Anne was living at South Everard Street, South Lynn, and Elizabeth was working as a governess to the five children of William Martin, master butcher of Boat Street, King’s Lynn, aged 25.

Elizabeth Anne Branford married John Brown, tailor and robe maker, in the second quarter of 1854 in Mitford, Norfolk.  The couple had at least two children: Edward Branford (c.1855‒) and John Bell (c.1857‒75) (see above), and they lived and worked at 13 (later 5) King’s Parade.

(Edward Branford ‒ not buried here ‒ married Amy Mary Baker of Stapleford, Cambs on 17 December 1880, the marriage taking place in St Ethelburga, Bishopsgate, London, because Amy was a lodging house keeper in the St Pancras area of London.  The couple had at least two children: Frances A (c.1886‒) and Owen Alwyne (c.1889‒).  Edward and Owen appear on the census return for 1901 with John and Elizabeth Anne at 5 King’s Parade.  Whether in London or Cambridge, or later in Teignmouth, Devon, Edward worked as a private tutor.)

According to the St Edward burial register, after John’s retirement he and Elizabeth moved, some time after 1901, to 123 Mawson Road (Petersfield ward).  John died in 1909.  Thereafter, Elizabeth moved to 29 Hertford Street, Chesterton and living with her still was her grandson, Owen Alwyne, who on the 1911 census return signed himself ‛O. Alwyne Brown’.

Elizabeth died on 27 July 1914 at the age of 89, and her body was buried on the 31st of that month in Mill Road Cemetery, in row XXXIII of the St Edward parish area, in plot 4 at a depth of 6 feet.

[If you have any information about these persons, please contact us at]

England census returns 1841 to 1901
England & Wales census return 1911
England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538‒1975 (John; Elizabeth)
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1537‒1915 (John Bell)
Norfolk, England, Bishop’s Transcripts, 1579‒1935 (Elizabeth)
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1837‒1915 (John/Elizabeth)
London and Surrey, England, Marriage Bonds and Allegations, 1597‒1921 (John/Elizabeth)
England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index, 1837‒1915 (John Bell; Elizabeth)

Church of St Edward, baptismal register (John Bell), burial register and grave book (Edward, William, Mary, Thomas, John Bell, John, Elizabeth)

By Ian Bent


Elizabeth Annie Brown; John Brown; John Bell Brown