CFHS code: PL168

Parish: St Paul’s


The plinth in March 2022.

This broken cross located in the parish of St Paul  is 2 rows to the north of the south path, roughly half way between the information board and the central path.

Although this monument was given a CFHS code they were unable to read the inscription. With the help of the grave register, burial register, a shaft of sunlight and some damp soil we have managed to see at least 1 name and are assuming that Disbury is the second name as that is what is in the grave register.


Matthew Cornwell
April .. 1903

[Emma Disbury]

Relationship brother & sister
Matthew and Emma were born and grew up in Bottisham, a village a few miles east of Cambridge,  where their parents, Charles and Eliza kept a small farm. By 1861 Eliza had died, Charles was still living in the village with 2 of his daughters and Matthew was working on another farm in Bottisham that was run by his cousin. The Cornwell family were numerous in this area.

Matthew Cornwell ( c 1839 – April 1903)

We have found little information about Matthew. He does not appear on the 1871 census for Cambridgeshire. However there was a marriage between a Matthew Cornell and  Mary Ann James in Harston  on June 1st. Matthew, a labourer,  was aged 27 and his father Charles a farmer. One of the witnesses was a Stephen Desbrey (sic). In 1891 Matthew Cornwell and Mary Ann were living in Newton – a village close to Harston. In 1901 Matthew and Mary Ann were still in Newton  and Matthew Cornwell is now a stockman on a local farm.  Mary Ann died just after the  1901 census was taken and that may be why Matthew came to Cambridge.
Matthew was 64 when he died at Addenbrooke’s Hospital on April 24th. His home address was given as 79 Argyle St in the paper but the burial register says Mill Rd..

Emma Louisa Disbury  (1846 – 1911) The age at death and age in 1851 census do not match

After the death of her mother Emma seems to have gone into service in London. In 1861, at the age of 16, she was a servant in the home of John & Jane Sharham who lived in Kensington.
She married Stephen Disbury [often spelt Disbrey] in 1871 in Arlesey Bedfordshire and they settled in Primrose lane for a number of years. They had at least 1 child, Edwin Charles, who was born c1873 and died in 1906.
Emma probably moved to Cambridge after the death of her husband and only son. She was living at 61 Mill Road when she died.

Stephen, who was born in Barton near Cambridge, worked as a labourer in the coprolite industry. By 1881 he was driving an engine on a coprolite site. The coprolite industry was already failing by this time which may have prompted their move to London, as by 1891 they were living in Valetta Grove, West Ham. Stephen was still connected to the railway as a labourer in the carriage department and Edwin in railway stores. Stephen appears to have died in London in 1901.


CFHS transcripts of parish records
Family Search
British Newspaper Archives

Matthew Cornwell; Emma Louisa Disbury [Disbrey]