CFHS code : MG50

Parish : St Mary the Great

Inscription : In Loving Memory of MARY ANN COWLES d Nov 2 1892 aged 65 also JOHN COWLES husband of the above d Dec 10 1913 aged 92 also of JAMES COWLES son d Jan 16 1924 aged 66 also EMMA GAWTHROP daughter d Aug 19th 1934 aged 78

Monument : Headstone

Above information  amended from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202201, 0.13759808 – click here for location

The Cowles headstone was hidden by ivy when this photo was taken in 2016.
Cowles headstone
Not much of the inscription could be read in 2016.
Cowles inscription


The Cowles headstone was hidden by ivy when this photo was taken in 2016. Not much of the inscription could be read but it seems to be well preserved.


In Loving Memory of Mary Ann Cowles
died Nov 2 1892 aged 65

Also John Cowles husband of the above
died Dec 10 1913 aged 92

[Come unto me ye weary and I will give you rest]

Also of James Cowles son died Jan 16 1924 aged 66

Also Emma Gawthrop daughter died Aug 19th 1934 aged 78

Mary Ann Cowles  (née Palmer) (1826 – 2 November 1892)

Mary was born in Tadmarton, four miles west of Banbury, Oxfordshire and  baptised there on 4 June 1826. She was the daughter of labourer Peter and Ann and married John Cowles in Oxfordshire c.1851.  They had ten children: Walter (1851-1905), Henry (1853-1934), Ann (1855-1930), Emma (1856-1934), James (1858-1924), John (1860-1936), Samuel (1862-), Hannah (1866-1961), William (1868-1919) and one further child who died as an infant. Their first son Walter was born in Oxfordshire, but they had moved to Cambridge by 1853 when their second son Henry was born. John worked as a groom/domestic coachman and they lived at 18 Covent Garden (1861) and Guildhall Place (at least 1871 onwards). By 1891 John had retired, and Mary died aged 65 years old.

John (Frank) Cowles (12 July 1821  –  10 December 1913)

Frank was born at Little St. Mary’s Lane and is believed to have been the son of  groom William Cowles and Alice (née Rutherford).  Frank was a stable lad with Newmarket Trainer John Jeanings and went out to France with him.  In France he worked his way up from stable lad to groom in the service of the Duke of Orleans.  In later years he would tell the tale of being at the funeral of Napoleon at St. Clouds on 15 December 1840  ‘he said it was a bitterly cold day, with snow falling heavily and the crowds that assembled to see the procession were almost frozen’.

After Mary’s death he lived with son James and daughter Emma at 81 Norwich Street (1901) and 2 Granta Place (1911). He died aged 92 years old and at the time was one of the oldest inhabitant of Cambridge.

His obituary read ‘while Mr. Cowles was in the service of the Duke of Orleans, he was returning from excersising his master’s horses one morning, when he was surrounded by a mob of men, who seized his attendant and pressed him into the service of the army. The Franco-Prussian War had broken out. Mr Cowles remembered the siege of Paris distinctly, and could tell of the time when the cuurches were draped in black and requiems were sun for the dead.  Mr. Cowles also travelled in Italy, and remembered his journey up Mount Versuvius. His family were all long lived. His grandfather, who kept the old coaching house of the Hare and Hounds on the Bungay Road, near Norwich, rode to Cambridge at the age of 95, when the journey was undertaken with no little risk from foot pads and highwaymen. Mr Cowles was in possession of all his faculties till a month ago.  He spoke French fluently and had a sound knowledge of vetinary work’.

[NB There might have been some embellishment of the stories as the Seige of Paris took place between September 1870 and January 1871 when John was living in Cambridge]

James Cowles (1858 – 16 January 1924)

Aged 13 James was living at Guildhall Place and working as an errand boy. He later became a domestic coachman to Henry Latham, Vice Master of Trinity Hall and lived at Southacre, Trumpington Road (now St. Faith’s School) (1881) . He moved back to live with his parents at Guildhall Place and worked as a groom (1891).  James worked as a painter from at least 1901 onwards and lived at 81 Norwich Street (1901) and 2 Granta Place (1911).  He never married and died aged 66 years old.

Emma Gawthrop (née Cowles) (1856 – 19 August 1934)

Emma was the second daughter of John and Mary Ann and was baptised on 1 June 1856 at St. Andrew the Great Church.  She worked as a servant to tailor Charles Roeper (1881) and  retired grocer William Hattersley (1891) before marrying Jonas Gawthrop (1869-) on 18 June 1893 at St. Mary the Great Church.  In 1901 the couple were living  at 81 Norwich Street with her father and brother James and Jonas was working as a billiard marker.

What happened to Jonas Gawthrop is not known, for by 1911 Emma was living with her brother and father at 2 Granta Place.  She lived alone at 2 Burrell’s Walk (1923-1929) and then moved to  at 81 Alpha Road (at least 1933 onwards) to live with her sister Hannah and brother in law George Simpkin.  Emma died at Alpha Road and her probate records show that she was still married to Jonas Gawthrop at the time.



Newspaper archives

by Claire Martinsen

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James Cowles; John Cowles; Mary Ann Cowles; Emma Gawthrop