CFHS code : MG149

Parish : St Mary the Great

Inscription : JOHN BURFORD d Feb 17th 1908 aged 78 also ESTHER his wife who fell asleep six days later Feb 23 1908 aged 84

Monument : Kerb stones/Stone cross (broken and overgrown)

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202179, 0.13831412 – click here for location

Site of Burford cross


This broken cross is close to the east wall.


John Burford (20 September 1829 – 17 February 1908)

John was born in Westwell, Kent and baptised there on 1 November 1829. He was the son of James and Mary and later was said to have had a working class upbringing with ‘little education and a hard struggle’. James Burford was an agricultural labourer and aged 22 (1851) John was working as the same. He married Esther and they had one daughter Clara (1855-1925) who was born in Kent. By 1861 the family had moved to Cambridge and were living at 16 Victoria Road. John worked as a coach body maker in a company run by Mr. Hunnybun.

John was a committed member of the Temperance movement and in his obituary it was said  he was one of the most striking examples of what the Temperance movement could do to change lifes.  He saved   hard whilst working for Hunnybun’s and opened a business at 28 Trumpington Street which sold fancy goods/stationery  and another business selling prams/invalid wheelchairs next door.  John, Esther and Clara lived at 28 Trumpington Street until he sold the business in 1888.

It was said he worked long enough to ‘accumulate sufficient for his modest wants’ and retired to live at Panton Cottage, Union Road (1891) and then Hothfield, Glisson Road (at least 1901 onwards).  In retirement he threw himself into public life. He was a Town Councillor, County  Councillor (1892 onwards) and Borough Magistrate (1892 onwards). John was  a director of the Cambridgeshire Permanent Building Society and also the Cambridgeshire Tramways Company.  He was a member of the Liberal Party, but was best known for his work as a Temperance worker. It was later reported that he ‘thought temperance, talked temperance, lived temperance – it was veritably his meat and drink’. He was said to have been proud of outliving all those who had mocked him for his stance (and were said to have thrown him into the gutterways when they saw him).  He was a supporter of all the Temperance societies across the town and outside – including the Good Templars, the Band of Hope Union, the Church of England Temperance Society and the Cambridge Temperance Society.  He was a supporter of the Salvation Army and a director of the University and Town Coffee Palace Company.

John died at home aged 78 years old and his death was announced in the Cambridge Independent Press thus ‘we regret this week to have to record the death of Mr. John Burford. Mr Burford until quite recently had been out and about inspite of the bad weather and was regular in his attendance at Court as a Borough Magistrate and the news of his death came as a painful surprise to many of his friends. He had kept to his bed through  illness only a few days, but he had attained a great age, and with a constitution weakened by the weight of years and the demands he made upon it in the cause of temperance and public work, he was unable to withstand an attack of pneumonia and pleurisy’.

His obituary reported ‘he was plain of speech, and sometimes brusque of manner but he had the kindest of hearts underneath a rough exterior and the extent of his good deeds will never be fully known. He was the truest and staunchest of friends, and a man of sound and wise ideas, though lack of  education deprived him of the means of fully expressing them. His life is one long record of strenuous service in the cause of his fellow men.  Long may his memory flourish and long may his example be followed’.

Esther Burford (c.1824 – 23 February  1908)

Esther was born in Kennington, near Ashford in Kent but no record of her marriage to John Burford has been found. She died at Glisson Road less than a week after her husband. It was reported that she had been in ill health for some time and that her death was ‘hastened by the death of her husband. Her funeral took place on 25 February 1908.



Newspaper archives

by Claire Martinsen

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Esther Burford; John Burford