CFHS code : ED122

Parish : St Edward

Inscription :

Watson monument February 2018

Monument : Cross (fallen and broken)/kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.203278, 0.13671314


This monument is located on the east of the west path at the north of the parish of St Edward.


There is no visible inscription on this monument but as we have seen the grave register kept at the Cambridgeshire Archives we have established that it is the grave of Frederick Watson.

The Rev. Canon Frederick Watson D.D.(1844-1906)

The Rev. Canon Frederick Watson D.D. died suddenly of a heart attack on 1 January 1906 aged 61. He was the vicar of St Edward’s parish, a position he had held for 12 years, and Fellow of St John’s College where he was the Director of Theological Studies and Principal Lecturer in Hebrew and Theology. He was also Hon. Canon of Ely Cathedral. He left a wife and ten children aged from 7 to 26; one of whom was my own grandfather Basil (who was 16).

Frederick Watson was born on 13 October 1844 in the City of York to Henry, a corn merchant and sharebroker, and his wife Susannah (nee Clarke, from a farming family in Lincolnshire). He went to St Peter’s school, York from where he obtained an open Exhibition at St John’s, converted in the next year to a Foundation Scholarship. By 1869 he had obtained the Mathematical Tripos (First Class) and the Theological. Exam. (First Class). He went on to become the Carus Greek Testament Prizeman and Hulsean (Essay) Prizeman, 1870; the Crosse Theol. Scholar, 1870; and the Hebrew Tyrwhitt Scholar in 1871.

Taking up the post of curate at Quy in 1871, Frederick was also a Fellow at St John’s where he had rooms in the Second Court. In 1875 he became curate of St Giles with St Peter’s and it was here that he met his wife Margaret.

In 1878 he married Margaret Lockhart Adam, the eldest surviving daughter of the Late Rev George Read Adam former incumbent of St Mary’s Kilburn. They moved to the College living at Starston in Norfolk some 60 miles away where their first child, Margaret, was born in 1879; Frederick in 1880; Henry Adam in 1881; Arthur Lockhart in 1883; Christopher in 1884; and Ethel Mary in 1886. But as well as his duties as Rector of Starston, St John’s asked him to continue to lecture in Theology and Hebrew, a task not made easier by the closure of Starston station since 1866

By 1887, Frederick had accepted the position of vicar of Stow cum Quy and he moved with his growing family into the new vicarage which still stands and which forms the background to the family photograph below taken in 1892, in which he can be seen with Margaret, his mother Susannah, and the nine children so far. Dorothy had arrived in 1888, Basil Lockhart in 1889, Grace Hilda in 1891; John Douglas was not to arrive until 1898.

Rev Watson and family Quy Vicarage 1892

Frederick continued to lecture as a Fellow at St John’s and also threw himself into The Cambridge Mission to South London which had started in 1884 and to which St John’s was later to affirm he had made an enormous contribution. Frederick would walk regularly between Cambridge and Quy and we know that this gave him great pleasure.

Frederick and Margaret in 1903

In 1893, Frederick moved his family into Cambridge itself, on becoming vicar of St Edward’s, and lived briefly in Harvey Road (where the picture below of two of his daughters on a tricycle was taken)
before finally moving to 6 Salisbury Villa, off Station Road.  This picture on the right was taken on the occasion of his 25th wedding anniversary, three years before he died.

Two of Frederick’s daughters, Ethel and Dorothy, shown here riding their pride and joy in 1893. The girls were contemporaries of Gwen Raverat, an artist who wrote the charming book “Period Piece – A Cambridge Childhood” and whose early life must have had many parallels with the Watsons’.

Finally, a quote from his obituary in the St John’s Eagle: “He combines the qualities of severity and tenderness in a singularly impressive and attractive balance. Against what seemed to him to be unworthy it was saeva indignatio, espressed with flashing eye, vibrating voice, and pungent epithet. But in the presence of modesty, enquiry, weakness, need, and even frailty if confessed, it was the sympathy and helpfulness of a heart which loved to be kind. Even more, it was that tenderness which surpasses natural kindness, the επιεικεζα * of the soul trained in the school of Christ.”.

His family were to scatter soon after his death. Daughter Margaret became an artist and nun in South Africa; son Frederick had graduated from Queens in 1902, joined the Foreign Office and was to become Consul General in Philadelphia; Henry graduated from St John’s and fought in the Boer War before emigrating to Canada; Arthur also graduated from St John’s before being ordained a priest in the Southwark diocese where his father had held his mission work so dear; Christopher graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford and became a schoolmaster first in Norfolk then in Malvern, before being ordained in Wells; Ethel emigrated to Canada as a teacher; Dorothy also spent time abroad before establishing herself as a craft potter in Hampshire and later in Kent; Basil was at St John’s (where he served on the Mission Committee following in his father’s footsteps) before working in France and in Argentina; Grace made jams for Fortnum & Mason and had a tea shop in Sussex; and John was commissioned in the Royal Flying Corps at age 18 in 1917 before returning to Cambridge to take his Degree prior to working in India as a Civil Engineer.

Frederick’s wife Margaret moved with her daughters (none of whom married) first to London and then to live with Dorothy at Rolvenden in Kent where she died in 1942. Circumstances made it impractical to inter her with Frederick in Cambridge and she is buried in Rolvenden churchyard marked with a simple wooden cross.

* Epsilon Pi Iota Epsilon Iota Kappa Epsilon Zeta Alpha, poorly translates as Grace/ leniency/indulgence, and is included without apology as appropriate for a classics scholar.

St John’s Eagle 1906_Lent-pp261-7;
Cambridge Independent Press 17 August 1878 p8
Alumni Cantabrigienses – Venn
Who Was Who
Family records

Compiled February 2018 by great grandson Paul Watson, who may be contacted through

Edited by Mary Naylor

Frederick Watson