CFHS code : MG67

Parish : St Mary the Great

Inscription : In Memory of my dear husband JOHN TOMLIN d July 5 1923 age 70 also his wife PRISCILLA TOMLIN d Oct 26 1931 age 76

Monument : Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202154, 0.13769828 – click here for location

Tomlin grave
Tomlin kerb stones



John Tomlin (1853 – 5 July  1923)

John was born in Newmarket but grew up at 9 South Street, Cambridge. His parents were Robert and Mary, and Robert Tomlin worked as a ‘brewer’s man’/drayman. John married Priscilla Pepper in 1875 and in 1881 the couple were living at 14 Bradmore Street, and he was working as a groom. He later became a publican and ran the White Swan, 36 Petty Cury (November 1884 – at least 1893) and then the Cardinal’s Cap, Guildhall Place (at least 1901 onwards).

John was no stranger to the Cambridge courts through his life.  In November 1886 he was summonsed to pay towards the upkeep of his mother Mary. Mary lived at South Street, and had appealed for parish alms.  The Cambridge Guardians took John to court claiming he should support her. He was ordered to pay 1s, 6d per week and court costs.  In October 1887 he was charged with letting two of his dogs roam Market Hill without muzzles. John pleaded not guilty and said that had muzzled them, but the animals had rubbed them off.  Several witnesses were called as was P.C. Gaunt the arresting officer. John was found guilty and the Town Clerk said ‘the order for the muzzling of the dogs was made for the protection of the public and the defendant was liable to a fine of £20, Tomlin would be fined 20s and costs’.  John asked the court how long the equivalent time in goal would be and was told one month.  It was noted that ‘Mr Balls said the defendant was a publican and he thought he was rather lowering himself in the eyes of the public in asking the question’.  In the end he opted to pay the 20s fine, but was not allowed to leave court until it was paid.

In June 1893 John was sued by Samuel Fulcher for money lent in 1890. Samuel had loaned him £9, of which only £1 had been repaid and claimed that John was involved with illegal betting.  There was no written agreement regarding the money and John denied all knowledge.  The magistrates considered it a vexatious case and due to lack of evidence dismissed the case.

In November 1898 John was threatened by Clare College undergraduate Richard Ashe Moxon at the Cardinal’s Cap which also went to court. Richard had come to the pub yard and then had pulled a revolver out of his pocket  when apprehended by John Tomlin.  The revolver was snatched away by James Robinson who was then ‘struck…in the mouth with his fist and tried to get the revolver’. The revolver was said to be unloaded and the charged was altered to common assault. In his defence Richard Moxon said he had gone to the yard to get some wood, and John Tomlin had threatened to set his two dogs  on him.  He said he had not threatened John Tomlin and the only reason he had the revolver was because he was a member of the University Volunteers. ‘The magistrates thought it was a serious matter for a gentleman in the position of the defendant to go on a man’s premises and try and carry off his carts.  They were glad to believe that the revolver was not loaded otherwise it would have been much more serious. Defendant would be fined 4s and costs’.

In September 1900 John’s hansom cab was ‘considerably damaged’ when he collided with cyclist Walter Rix on the junction of Emmanuel Road and Parker Street. John sued Walter Rix for £17, 8s and 6d and Walter counter-sued for £7s, 4s.  There were many witnesses at the trial, and both men blamed the other.  In the end the jury ordered Walter Rix to pay John £4.

In March 1909 John was charged with ‘loitering in Market Hill and Peas Hill for the purpose of betting’. The Cambridge police had been watching for illegal betting and charged John and one other man. Magistrates found there was insufficient evidence to convict and the case was dismissed.

John won prizes on successive years at the Cambridgeshire Ornithological Society (1887/1888) in the dog classes.  It is not thought John and Priscilla had any children of their own, but they raised their niece Priscilla (Nelly) Pepper (1888-) who in 1901 was using the surname Tomlin. John died at the Cardinal’s Cap aged 70 years old.

Priscilla Tomlin (née Pepper) (1855 – 26 October 1931)

Priscilla was the daughter of Caroline and in 1871 was living with her widowed mother at 3 Plantation Row.  After she was widowed she  lived at 63 Mill Road (1924 onwards) and died at home aged 76 years old.



Newspaper archives

by Claire Martinsen

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John Tomlin; Priscilla Tomlin
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