CFHS code : PL284

Parish : St Paul

Inscription : In Loving Memory of ERNEST STEARN d Mar 25 1900 age 4 also of THOMAS HENRY STEARN killed in action in France May 30 1918 age 25 also of their parents MARY ANN STEARN d Feb 23 1947 age 88 GEORGE THOMAS STEARN d Jul 16 1947 age 87

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202119 0.13665754 – click here for location

Stearn headstone March 2020


This headstone with kerb stones in the parish area of St Paul, is located between the western path and the central path, a little over halfway towards the latter.  To reach it, first find the fifth grave on the west side of the central path, a column with the name “Browne”, then walk fourteen rows westward.


In loving memory of Ernest Stearn
who died Mar 25 1900 age 4 years’
He shall gather the lambs in his arms.

‘Also of Thomas Henry Stearn
killed in action in France May 30 1918 aged 25 years’
In the midst of life we are in death.**

‘Also of their parents Mary Ann Stearn
who died Feb 23 1947 age 88 years’
‘George Thomas Stearn
who died Jul 16 1947 age 87 years’

** Media vita in morte sumus [medieval Latin antiphon]

Ernest Stearn (1896‒1900)

Ernest Stearn was born on 22 April 1896 and baptised at St Barnabas Church, Cambridge on 14 June of that year.  He was the son of George Thomas Stearn, railway platelayer, and his wife Mary Ann (née Woollard) (see below) while the family was living at 32 Hope Street (in Romsey Town).  George and Mary Ann had four children in all, George William (1886‒) Susan (1890‒), Thomas Henry (1893‒1918) and Ernest.  Ernest died in 1900 at the age of 3 and was buried on 29 March in the parish area of St Paul in Mill Road Cemetery, row XXV, plot 37.

Thomas Henry Stearn (1893‒1918)  – WW1 soldier – see also Life Story page

Thomas Henry Stearn was born in the first quarter of 1893 in Warboys ‒ then situated in Huntingdonshire, but now in Cambridgeshire, seven miles north of Huntingdon ‒ the son of George Thomas, railway platelayer, and his wife Mary Ann (née Woollard). At the time, the family lived at West End, Warboys, but it moved two years later to Cambridge and settled at 32 Hope Street.  By 1904 it had moved to 154 Mill Road, and by 1911 Thomas, aged 18, was employed as a railway porter.

Thomas enlisted in the army at Cambridge in 1914 or 1915.  He was assigned to the Royal Garrison Artillery with the rank of Gunner.  His regimental number was 156666.  He joined the  25th Siege Battery, which proceeded to France on 3 August 1915.  He was killed in action on 31 (or 30) May 1918 near Amiens, in northern France, and his body is buried in the cemetery of Crouy-sur-Somme, in plot II, row E, grave 14.  He was entitled to the Victory medal and British War Medal.  In his will, Thomas left effects to the value of £102 6s to his father George Thomas Stearn.

Railway accident report

Mary Ann Stearn (née Woollard) (1858‒1947)

Mary Ann Woollard was born in 1858, and baptised on 12 September 1858 in Balsham, a village 9 miles southeast of Cambridge, daughter of Joseph Woollard, agricultural labourer, and his wife Ann.  Ann had been born in Balsham and Joseph in nearby West Wickham.

In 1861 the family was living at High Street, West Wickham, but by 1871 had moved northwards to Spring Hall Cottage, Baston Bridge, Swaffham Prior, two miles from Reach ‒ a small but historically important village 10 miles northeast of Cambridge.  By this time Joseph and Ann had six children: Henry (c.1856‒), Mary Ann (1858‒1947), Susanna (c.1864‒), Martin (c.1865‒), Ellen (c.1867‒) and Joseph (jnr) (1870‒).  In 1881, a Mary Ann Woollard of Reach was working as a domestic servant to the family of Joseph Fellowfield Maeser (or Maester) in Barkston Ash, Yorkshire.

154 Mill Road (2012)

Mary Ann married George Thomas Stearn, railway platelayer, in the fourth quarter of 1885 in the parish of Chesterton.  In 1891 the couple were living at West End, Warboys, with two children, George William (1886‒) and Susan (1890‒).  By 1895 the family had moved to Cambridge and was living at 32 Hope Street (in Romsey Town), Thomas Henry having been born two years earlier.  In about 1904 the family moved to 154 Mill Road, where it was living at the 1911 census with all three children still unmarried and at home; George William was a railway labourer, Susan a “mother’s help”, and Thomas Henry a railway porter.  The Stearn family remained at that address through to 1925/26, after which its whereabouts are unclear.

Mary Ann died in February 1947, aged 88.  Her address (presumably that of  the couple) was 17 Rathmore Road.  Hers was the second body to be buried, and the third person to be commemorated, in the family grave in the parish area of St Paul, on 27 February.

George Thomas Stearn (1859‒1947)

George Thomas Stearn was born in the third quarter of 1859 in Teversham, a village 4 miles southeast of Cambridge, son of Henry Stearn, master tailor, and his wife Sarah.  The family had been solidly rooted in Teversham for decades, and the family home was on the High Street.  By the 1861 census George Thomas, aged 1 year, had four elder siblings, Harriet (c.1850‒), Harry (c.1853‒), Alfred (c.1855‒) and David (c.1857‒), and one younger sibling, Emma, a month old.  By the 1871 census, the three elder brothers were agricultural labourers, and there were two further children, William (c.1864‒) and Isabella (c.1867‒).  By 1881, George Thomas and brother David had both become railway platelayers.

32 Hope Street (2017)

George Thomas married Mary Ann Woollard of Balsham, Cambridgeshire, in the final quarter of 1885 in the parish of Chesterton, and by 1891 the couple were living at West End, Warboys, with two children, George William (1886‒) and Susan (1890‒), a third coming along two years later: Thomas Henry (1893‒1918 ‒ see lifestory).  By 1895 they had moved to Cambridge and were living at 32 Hope Street (off Mill Road in Romsey Town).  While there, in 1896 Ernest was born, but died four years later (see above).  By 1901, in addition to the three remaining children, the family had taken in a boarder.  (The 1911 census confirms that the couple had four children, of whom one had died by that date.)  By 1904 they were living on Mill Road itself, at No. 154, “Lynwood Cottage”, one of a pair of private houses just round the corner from Argyle Street and near the railway bridge.  They were to continue living at that address for thirty years, leaving it finally in 1926.

Mary Ann died in February 1947, her address at the time being 17 Rathmore Road (running between Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road near the junction of those two roads).  Her death brought to an end a marriage that had lasted 62 years.  At his death in September of that year, aged 87, George Thomas was living at 29 Union Lane.  Most likely, this was the former Chesterton Union Workhouse, which after 1930 became a public assistance institution, and from 1948 under the NHS Chesterton Hospital, on the site of which Chesterton Medical Centre was built in 2002.

War Graves Photographic Project
Wartime Memories Project : Royal Garrison Artillery during the Great War
England census reports 1841‒1901; England & Wales census report 1911
England & Wales Civil Registration Birth Index 1837‒1915 (George Thomas, Mary Ann, Thomas Henry)
England, Select Births and Christenings 1838‒1975 (Mary Ann)
England & Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837‒1915
England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1916‒2007 (Mary Ann, George Thomas)
England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858‒1966, 1973‒1995 (Thomas Henry)
UK WW1 Service Medal and Award Rolls 1914‒1920
UK Soldiers died in the Great War 1914‒1919
British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards 1914‒1920 (RGA/19113, p. 9149)
Church of St Barnabas, Cambridge, baptismal register (Ernest)
Church of St Paul, Cambridge, burial register (Ernest, Mary Ann, George Thomas)

By Ian Bent

Ernest Stearn; George Thomas Stearn; Mary Ann Stearn; Thomas Henry Stearn