CFHS code : BO14

Parish : St Botolph

Inscription : ARO MARTIN BEMENT JOHNSON d August 14 1876 aged 32

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202945, 0.1377216 – click here for location

Johnson grave
Johnson headstone


This round-headed headstone with kerb stones, in the parish area of St Botolph, is located to the north east of the centre circle, east of the north-bound central path, three rows eastwards.


[clasped hands in semi-circle]
‘In affectionate remembrance of Martin Bement Johnson
who departed this life August 14 1876 aged 32’

[one line of epithet indecipherable]

Martin Bement (or Beaumont) Johnson (1843 – 14 August 1876)

Martin’s second name is given variously as ‘Beaumont’, ‘Beamont’, ‘Bemont’ and ‘Bement’. He was born in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire and baptised there on 26 November 1843. His parents were Benjamin (1812-76, gardener) and Ann (née Kester 1819-84). He had at least six siblings: Susan, Thomas John, Joseph, Elizabeth, Benjamin and Susan (jnr).

Martin married Sarah Jarvis (1846-1934) at St. Andrew the Great on 7 October 1869.  They went to live with her father George Jarvis who ran the Anchor pub and boatyard at 15 Silver Street.  In 1871 Martin was described on the census as a boat builder, and ran the boat yard for his father-in-law. In July 1875 he was a witness at the inquest into the death of Thomas Shipp who had drowned.  A witness had seen Thomas fall into the water and went to fetch Martin.  Martin found Thomas in the sluice but was unable to save him – the following morning he was able to rescue the body out of the water. The death was recorded as accidental drowning as it was determined that Thomas had not meant to fall into the water.  An additional rail was requested to be added to the side of the bride over the sluice gates.

It was somewhat ironic that Martin himself drowned in the River Cam less than four weeks later. The inquest was held at the Anchor Inn.  Samuel Porter said that he had been driving over the bridge at 3pm and had seen a man wearing a straw hat floating in the water.  Samuel had found a boat and rescued Martin from the water, and ‘rubbed him’ until the doctor arrived. According to the evidence he regained consciousness for some time but died at six thirty in the evening.  George Jarvis said that Martin had complained of headaches and the same afternoon he had taken a tot of brandy to settle his stomach.  Mr Carver, the surgeon testified that the death was probably a combination of drowning and the extreme heat of the day – he thought that sunstroke was also a contributing factor and that ‘the long continued embarrassment of breathing is hardly consistent with simple drowning’.  The jury returned a verdict of ‘accidental death from drowning and that they thought it was probable that he had a fit or sunstroke’.

The Cambridge Independent Press wrote ‘the unfortunate deceased was a well-known character on the river more especially by the members of the Cambridge branch of the Royal Canoe Club.  The races of this club were frequently started by the deceased who has saved several lives from drowning by his expertise as a swimmer’.

Sarah Johnson married a further twice and ran the Anchor Inn until at least 1916.

St Botolph: burial register


Newspaper archives

by  Ian Bent, Mary Naylor and Claire Martinsen

Martin Bement Johnson