CFHS code : PL215

Parish : St Paul

Inscription :  Mary Ann Owen widow of Charles Owen Esq of Chelsea died April 19 1857 aged 83

Monument : Headstone

Above information amended from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

this well preserved headstone is on the right of the lodge.
Owen headstone


This headstone in the parish area of St Paul is located on the east of the western path close to the lodge.


Mary Ann Owen widow of Charles Owen Esq of Chelsea died April 19 1857 aged 83

She was well known in this town

This inscription can only be read when the light shines on it at a certain angle.
This inscription can only be read when the light shines on it at a certain angle.

during many years
for her warm hearted and
unwea [ryied] [rying]  labours
for the spiritual and –moral
good of others
especially of the unhappy, and
erring of her own sex

This stone is erected by a few
friends ……………………………
….affection ………
….. to………

To the east of the headstone there is a copped stone with decoration.
To the east of the headstone there is a coped stone with decoration.

Mary Ann  Owen (c 1774 – 1857)

Before coming to Cambridge Mary lived in London. She was the second wife of  Charles Owen. Charles died in 1805 leaving Mary with two children, Francis (bapt Chelsea 1802) and Frederick Charles (bapt Chelsea 1804). Although the 1851 census states that Mary Cunliffe Owen was her daughter it is more likely, given her age, she was a step daughter. Charles’s will of 1805 appears to have made ample provision for all ten of his children.

It is not known when Mary Ann came to Cambridge but she became the secretary of the Cambridge Female Refuge Ladies’ committee in 1838. A post that she held until 1856. This organisation provided training for vulnerable young women. She lived at 13 Hills Road, Cambridge.

Mary Cunliffe Owen appeared to live with her step mother from 1851 and she stayed on at the house in Hills Road for some years but eventually moved to Great Shelford, near Cambridge with her cook Mary Schooling and her housemaid Louisa Osborne. She died in 1879 aged 88 and is buried in the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin, Great Shelford.

Although there is a lot of information about some of the Cunliffe-Owen children from Charles Owen’s marriage to Mary Newman, (Descendents include Sir Francis Philip Cunliffe Owen – director of the Kensington Museum later the V&A and the Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft group).  we have not been able to find a maiden name for Mary Ann and nothing is known about her two children.

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Sources :
CFHS Census transcriptions
British Newspaper Archive
Wikipedia – for Cunliffe-Owen information

by Mary Naylor

Mary Ann Owen