CFHS code : ED22

Parish : St Edward

Inscription : In Loving Memory of HENRY JAMES PARSON d August 18th 1903 aged 54 also of his dearly beloved wife ELIZABETH d January 19th 1926 in her 78th year and of MERRYN ERNEST PARSON dearly loved husband of MABEL PARSON d Dec 6th 1951 aged 69 also his wife MABEL GLADYS PARSON d May 9th 1967 aged 79

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones/Flowerholder

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.20312, 0.1374666 – click here for location

Parson grave
Parson monument


This pointed Gothic headstone with carving, with kerb stones and flower holder, in the parish area of St Edward, is located west of the central path as it travels north from the centre circle, four rows back from the path, close to the grave of Mary Ann Parson.


In Loving Memory of

‛Henry James Parson who died August 18th 1903 aged 54 years’
“For me to live is Christ / And to die is gain”

‛Also of his dearly beloved wife Elizabeth
who died January 19th 1926 in her 78th year’

‛And of Mervyn Ernest Parson dearly loved husband of Mabel Parson
who died Dec 6th 1951 aged 69 years’

‛Also his wife Mabel Gladys Parson died May 9th 1967 aged 79 years’

Henry James Parson (1849‒1903)

Henry James Parson was born on 2 May 1849 in Ely, Cambridgeshire, the son of James Greaves Parson (1823‒1853), boatwright of Ely, and his wife Mary Ann Parson (née Gillett) (1825‒1892). In 1871 Henry was living in St Botolph Street, Colchester, Essex with the family of Frederick A. Cole, chemist, for whom he was working as “assistant chemist” (the census report has his name incorrectly as “Henry Sam[ue]l [or Saul] Parsons”). The Cole household also included two other young men, aged 16 and 20, who were apprenticed; it seems likely that Henry himself had himself  been apprenticed to Cole in previous years and on completion of his apprenticeship had become Cole’s assistant.

S. J. Parson chemist shop at 4-5 Peas Hill, Cambridge
S. J. Parson chemist shop at 4-5 Peas Hill, Cambridge

Henry married Elizabeth Worman on 3 September 1874 at St Paul’s Church, Cambridge.  By 1881 the couple were living at 22 Market Place, Kingston-on-Hull, Yorkshire, where Henry had established himself as a pharmaceutical chemist. By then the couple had had their first son, Sydney James (born 11 August 1879). Somewhere between 1888 and 1890 the family moved to Cambridge and in 1890 Henry acquired 5 Peas Hill, in the town centre, from his uncle Crabb Gillett (buried in this cemetery), the shop being styled, as throughout Gillett’s time, “chemist and druggist”. By then the couple had had two other sons, Mervyn Ernest (born 6 January 1882) and Henry Hugh (born 2 May 1886). By 1891 they had Henry’s mother (Mary Ann Parson), now widowed and aged 66, living with them (she was to die the following year), as well as one servant.  Henry continued to manage the Peas Hill shop until his death on 18 August 1903 at the early age of 54, at which point his eldest son Sydney took the business over.  Henry was buried on 21 August in the parish area of St Edward in Mill Road Cemetery.  He left all his effects, amounting in value to £5,987 17s 1d, to his wife.

See the obituary of Henry James Parson.

Elizabeth Parson (née Worman) (1849‒1926)

Elizabeth Worman was born on 8 January 1849, the first of at least three children of James Worman, coachman, and his wife Harriet Dowles.  James and Harriet had married in 1848 and lived subsequently with Harriet’s mother, Mary Dowles (widow), and Harriet’s sister Elizabeth Dowles, at 3 Jesus Terrace (between Orchard Street and New Square), Cambridge. By 1861 the Worman family was living at 50‒51 Panton Street (New Town), Cambridge, a grocer’s shop, by which time James was styled “coachman & grocer”.  By then James and Harriet also had a son Henry (c.1857‒)  and a daughter Laura (c.1859‒).

At the age of 25, on 3 September 1874, Elizabeth married Henry James Parson at St Paul’s Church, Cambridge.  Seven years later the couple were living in Hull, Yorkshire, and between 1888 and 1891 they moved to Cambridge, where Henry took over from his brother-in-law Crabb Gillett, a chemist shop at 5 Peas Hill, which he managed until his death on 18 August 1903.

Two Parson graves (left-right) + Gillett (middle)
Two Parson monuments (left-right) + Gillett (middle)

Henry and Elizabeth were married for 28 years and had three children: Sydney James (1879‒1944), Mervyn Ernest (1882‒1951) and Henry Hugh (1886‒1948).  Some time between her husband’s death in 1903 and 1911 Elizabeth moved to 74 Mill Road (Petersfield), where Sydney James had established a second chemist shop.  At her death on 19 January 1926, aged 77, Elizabeth was living at 22 Cavendish Avenue (between Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road), Cambridge.

Mervyn Ernest Parson (1882‒1951)

Mervyn was born in 6 January 1882 in Kingston-on-Hull, Yorkshire, the second son of Henry James Parson and his wife Elizabeth Worman.  By 1891 the family had moved to 5 Peas Hill, Cambridge, where Henry established his chemist shop ‒ “Parsons[sic], Henry J., chemist and druggist” ‒ and where Mervyn became his assistant.

Brixton School of Pharmacy: Sydney Parson
Brixton School of Pharmacy

In 1903, Henry died.  At that point, Mervyn’s elder brother Sydney James Parson (who is not buried in this cemetery) took over the Peas Hill shop.  Previously Sydney had been working as a chemist’s assistant in Lambeth (London) in 1901 (living at 348 Kennington Road), having apparently been apprenticed to his uncle, Crabb Gillett, and receiving his qualification from the Brixton School of Pharmacy (see medal) in 1902.

Sydney's medal
Sydney’s medal

In 1909 he acquired the neighbouring shop at No. 4 (formerly a watchmaker), thereby doubling his space.  The premises were soon divided into two separate shops, the left-hand shop being the pharmacy, and the right-hand shop specializing in photograph goods. (See illustration)

During the First World War, both Mervyn and Sidney were exempted from military service because of their reserved occupation. Near the end of the war, Mervyn lost his exemption but was probably not called up.  See exemption reports.

The Peas Hill shop retained Sydney’s exclusive name until 1930, after which it was incorporated into another company;  by 1936 the Parson name had disappeared and the shop became “Turner & Sons (Camb.), Ltd”. The shop description had undergone a gradual change in character, from “chemist and druggist” in the 1890s to “pharmacist, optician and photographic chemist” by 1919, to “dispensing and photographic chemist” by 1930, and to “photographic chemist and optician” by 1933.

The former Linton Workhouse, Symonds Lane
The former Linton Workhouse, Symonds Lane

At the time of his death on 8 May 1944 at the age of 64 Sydney was living in The Red House, Symonds Lane, Linton, Cambridgeshire ‒ the former Linton Union Workhouse, presumably by then (as today) a home for the elderly.  His official home address by that time was The Temple, Abington, Cambridgeshire, and he was buried in Little Abington (a village 7 miles southeast of Cambridge) churchyard on 11 May 1944.  He left his effects to his wife Bertha, who outlived him by four years.

74 Mill Road in 2016
74 Mill Road in 2016

In 1907 the family established a second pharmacy at 74 Mill Road, Cambridge (between Mawson and Tenison Roads ‒ it had been Campkin, chemist, before), where Elizabeth and Mervyn also lived. At first the new shop bore the name of Sydney James.  From the previous pharmacy it  also inherited a “Post and Telegraph Office”, soon changed to “Postal and Money Order Office” ‒ this meant that Sydney (later Mervyn) also bore the title “Sub-Postmaster”.

By 1914 the proprietary name had changed to “Parsons[sic], Mervyn Ernest, chemist and druggist and stationer”.  Mervyn married Mabel Gladys Banyard on 2 August 1915 and the couple presumably lived at the Mill Road address together.  74 Mill Road remained in Mervyn’s name for 39 years until his death in 1951, after which it was taken over by Edward Turner, chemist.

Sydney and Mervyn were both exempted from service in the First World War, since they were considered to be performing work of national importance.  Their cases were reviewed periodically.  See Parson-war-exemption.

Mervyn died on 6 December 1951, aged 69, and was buried in the parish area of St Edward in Mill Road Cemetery.  He left effects valued at £5,664 12s. to his wife Mabel and her brother Sidney Charles Banyard, a civil servant.

Mabel Gladys Parson (née Banyard) (1887‒1967)

Mabel was born on 28 August 1887 in March (29 miles north of Cambridge), the daughter of Charles Banyard, bricklayer, and his wife Amelia.  By 1891 Mabel and her mother were living on Selbyrtle Terrace, Station Road, March, with the family of James Minett, railway guard (presumably Charles was working away from home).  By 1901 the family was together and living at 44 Kingston Street (Petersfield), Cambridge, and had two further children: Sidney Charles (c.1892‒) and Stanley Philip (c.1897‒).  By 1911, Charles, Amelia, Mabel and Stanley were still at the same address, and Mabel was a draper’s assistant.

44 Kingston Street
44 Kingston Street

Mabel married Mervyn Ernest Parson on 2 August 1915, and presumably went to live above Mervyn’s chemist shop at 74 Mill Road, Cambridge.  In the 1939 census the couple are recorded as having no children. Mervyn died in 1951, and Mabel outlived him by 16 years, dying on 9 May 1967 at the age of 79.

England census reports 1851‒1911, 1939 (summary)
Free Births, Marriages and Deaths
St Edward Church, Cambridge burial and grave registers
Cambridgeshire Burial Transcriptions
Spalding’s Street Directory of Cambridge
Kelly’s Street Directory of Cambridge
The Chemist and Druggist, 30 July 1910, p. 184

By Hugh Parson (grandson of Henry Hugh Parson) and Ian Bent

Elizabeth Parson; Henry James Parson; Mabel Gladys Parson; Merryn Ernest Parson