CFHS code : HT439

Parish : Holy Trinity

Inscription : In Loving Memory of JOHN SYMONDS d April 20th 1947 also his wife JULIA SYMONDS d Feb 16th 1929 and their son LESLIE JOHN who lost his life on active service July 8th 1942

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones/Flowerholder (broken)

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Symonds grave
Symonds headstone


This grey granite headstone, in modern style, with decorative panels left and right, and with kerb stones, in the parish area of Holy Trinity, is located in the south-east corner of the cemetery, about 20 yards to the west of the eastern path as the latter turns northwards.


‘In loving memory of John Symonds died April 20th 1947’
‘Also his wife Julia Symonds died Feb 16th 1929’

‘And their son Leslie John
who lost his life on active service July 8th 1942.’

John Symonds (24 January 1864 – 20 April 1947)

John was the son of John Hulyer and Mary Ann (née Diss) Symonds.  He was born in Carlton, just south of Cambridge and his father had already died by the time he was born. He grew up with his mother and three siblings and by the age of 17 was working as an agricultural labourer.  He married Mary Ann Farrow (1859-1902) in 1887 and the couple had three children: Esther Ada Jane (1888-1967), Grace Mary (1892-1983) and another child who died as an infant.

The family lived at 19 Broad Street and John worked as a policeman (1891).  He was widowed in 1902 and married for a second time in 1903 to Julia Freeman.  The couple had two more children: Doris Muriel (1904-1990) and Leslie John (1910-1942).  In 1911 John was living at 23 Sturton Street with Julia and his four children.

As a police constable his name appeared often in newspapers of the time and he appeared a court many times.  In January 1902 he was assaulted by Nathaniel Rockett on Christ’s Pieces. John Symonds had stopped Nathaniel  at 11.30pm because of his use of bad language – ‘prisoner had asked him if he could fight, and he replied that he could not. Prisoner thereupon took off his coast and hit witness in the chest’.  Nathaniel pleaded not guilty but the court found otherwise and he was fined 5s. 

In March 1908 he appeared in the Borough Police Court in relation to labourer Thomas Webb.  Thomas was accused of begging in Union Road, John Symonds had been sent out in plain clothes to follow him and saw him go into one shop and ask for tea, and ask for bread in another.  Thomas Webb explained to the court how he usually worked on the fens, but had fallen off a haystack and injured himself so could not work as a result. He had walked from Thetford to Newmarket in one day, and then from Newmarket to Cambridge the next.  He had barely eaten for two days when he was arrested by PC Symonds.  Thomas was freed by the court, and ordered to return to his home village and enter the workhouse there.  The bench warned ‘if he went tramping about the country he would certainly be sent to prison’.

In April 1907 he arrested Walter Rumsey on Hills Road for riding a bike without a light at 11.50pm.  Walter was a student at Trinity Hall, and had already been fined for a similar incident.  The Police court imposed a fine of 5s and costs in light of it being a second offense.

By 1939 he had retired from the police and was living at 3 Arbury Road.  He died at the County Hospital, Mill Road aged 83 years old. 

Julia Symonds (née Freeman) (1875 – 16 February 1929)

Julia was born and grew up in Castle Camps, just south of Cambridge.  She was the daughter of Charles and Frances Freeman.  Her father was an agricultural labourer and her mother a tailoress.  In 1901 she was working as a kitchen maid at Abington Hall which was owned by barrister John Emmerson.  She married widower John Symonds when she was 27 years old and died when she was 54 years.

Leslie John Symonds (5 March 1910 – 9 July 1942)WW2 soldier – see also Life Story page

Leslie appears to have been known by the name John through his life.  He worked as a salesman in the steel industry and moved away from Cambridge to live in London.  In August 1936 he was documented sailing from Gibraltar to London on the MS Yasukuni Maru and was living at 3 Hayes Crescent in Golders Green at the time.  By 1939 he was living along at 4 Eastside Street in Hendon.  He later served as a sergeant in the RAF 101 Squadron.  The Commonwealth war grave in Runnymede gives his date of death as 9 July 1942, but his grave monument in Mill Road records it as being 8 July.

War Graves Photographic Project (Runnymede)
War Graves Photographic Project (Cambridge)


Newspaper archives

By Ian Bent and Claire Martinsen

[If you have any information about the life or career of this man, please contact us at]

John Symonds; Julia Symonds; Leslie John Symonds
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