CFHS code : PL196

Parish : St Paul

Inscription : In Loving Memory of JOHN DEIGHTON d November 03 1883

Monument : Stone cross (base only)

Above information  amended from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

The Deighton monument in September 2021


This broken cross located under a wild rose, in the parish of St Paul, stands 1 row north of the south path just past the information board. It is usually covered in vegetation. the cross is broken into several sections but appears to be complete. Only the carved names are legible on the plinth, the rest of the inscription having eroded too badly to read.



south face
In Loving Memory of JOHN DEIGHTON [died November 3 1883]

west face
Sarah Deighton [died 22  September 1871]

John Deighton (26 January 1819 – 3 November 1883)

John was the second son of Joseph and Sarah (née Tillott) and was baptised at St. Michael’s Church, Cambridge on 19 February 1819. He studied to be a doctor by first being apprenticed to his maternal uncle Mr Howard at New Buckenham, Norfolk and then at St. George’s Hospital. He qualified and was admitted to the College of Surgeons in 1842 and practised at the Depwade and Guiltcross Unions in Norwich, before moving to Cambridge to practise from Green Street.  In September 1846 the Cambridge Board of Guardians met and John was appointed Medical Officer  ‘to the first district of the Union’ (comprising of the parishes of St. Andrew the Great, St. Andrew the Less, St. Benedict and Holy Trinity’.  The population of these parishes was 14,000 at the time and the position carried a salary of £75 per annum.  The job required ‘to furnish the poor with medicine, and if requisite of course to furnish the bottles for the purpose of its conveyance’.

John married Adelaide Eliza Stevenson (1831-1892) on 22 April 1851 at St. Stephen’s Church, Norwich and they had at least four children: Dr. Frederick (1854-1924), Rev. William George (1855-1940), Adelaide Mary (1857-1945) and Alfred Arthur (1862-1945).  He practised as a surgeon in Cambridge for nearly forty years and the family lived at 48 Trumpington Street (1861) and then 2 Eastbourne Villas, Hills Road (at least 1871 onwards).

In November 1859 he stood for the East Barnwell ward with a Mr. Jasper Lyon against the two existing councillors.  John and Jasper were expected to win the seats, but a mix up meant that the person who nominated them was not eligible to do so, so they had to withdraw.  The Cambridge Independent Press reported that ‘long faces were pulled on Saturday morning when this fact became known….the affair, however, shewed [sic] bad management somewhere on the part of the gentlemen who flatter themselves that they are wonderfully acute; but vanity is an ingredient in human nature, and too often supersedes good sense and good manners’.  In August 1866 he was however successful in winning the East Barnwell seat and in 1880 was elected as an Alderman.

John Deighton died as a result of an accident which took place on 17 October 1883.  He had been driving his trap along Bridge Street when his horse took fright and bolted near Magdalene College.  The trap became entangled with a carrier’s cart and John was thrown out of the trap, landing on his head and was badly injured.  On 20 October the Cambridge Independent Press reported that ‘he has had a better night and was believed to be progressing’.  By 3 November  an updated bulletin reported ‘he has on the whole improved. He has been able to take nourishment during the last few days, his digestion being much better. His knee is also improving, but a large abscess is forming in the neck as a result of the injuries’. However  that same day in a later edition the Cambridge Independent Press reported ‘we are sorry to learn, just before going to press, that Mr. Deighton is sinking fast, and can not live for many hours’. He died later the same day and a subsequent inquest returned a verdict of accidental death with no blame attributable to any one.

The funeral took place at St. Paul’s Church on 7 November at St. Paul’s Church and was attended by the Earl of Hardwicke, the Vice-Chancellor and the Master of Corpus Christi College amongst other dignitaries. ‘The coffin, which was of polished oak, was covered with handsome wreaths and crosses composed of flowers, white chrysanthemums predominating’. After the service the coffin  was moved by hearse to Mill Road Cemetery with the Freemasons preceding the hearse and it was reported ‘a large number of persons had assembled at various points on the route and at the cemetery’. Many of the shop keepers in Mill Road put their shutters up during the ceremony as a mark of respect.

John’s widow Adelaide married for a second time in 1889 to Rev. William Kerr Ramsay Coombs. She died in Hove in January 1892 and is presumed to be buried in Sussex.

Sarah Deighton (née Tillott) (12 February 1794 – 22 September 1871)

Sarah was born in Suffolk and married Joseph John Deighton (1792-1848) on 16 April 1816 in Wissett, two miles north west of Halesworth in Suffolk. Joseph ran a bookseller/ publishing company with his brother John, which was known as J & J.J. Deighton and the couple had at least nine children: Joseph (1817-1867), John (1819-1883), Sarah Ann (1820-1825), Jane (1822-1839), Elizabeth (1824-1825), Charlotte (1826-1863), Carolina Sophia (1829-1951), Horace (1831-1913) and Edward (1833-1894). In 1841 the family were living at Church Street, Harston.

Joseph Deighton from Cambridge Mayors

Joseph Deighton was a prominent businessman, primarily a booksellertown councillor, Alderman and served as Mayor from 1845-1846. In 1854 George Bell acquired the Cambridge firm of J. and J.J. Deighton and it became Deighton Bell and Co based in Trinity Street. He died in August 1848 and was buried in the graveyard of St. Benet’s Church.
After she was widowed Sarah lived at St. Andrew’s Street with children John, Charlotte, Carolina and Horace (1851) and is then known to have lived in Gainsborough for some years. Her daughter Charlotte had married Rev. Robert Charters in 1853 and Robert was headmaster of Gainsborough Grammar School. By 1871 Sarah had returned to Cambridge and was lodging at 12 Panton Street with the Fisher family.  She died aged 77 years old.



Newspaper archives


by Claire Martinsen

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John Deighton; Sarah Deighton