CFHS code : AG271

Parish : St Andrew the Great

Inscription : FRANCES ELIZA wife of JAMES CARTMELL DD Master of Christs College d 24 February 1864 aged 28

Monument : Stone cross

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.203032, 0.13637938 – click here for location

The cross in February 2021.


This substantial cross stands against the west wall under trees. It is six rows from the west path and nearly opposite the east west path that runs from the centre circle. It is in good order.


FRANCES ELIZA wife of JAMES CARTMELL DD Master of Christs College died 24 February 1864 aged 28 years.

Frances Eliza Cartmell (née Austen) (5 January 1836 – 24 February 1864)

Frances was the only child of Rev. John Thomas Austen and his wife Charlotte Sophia (née Tilson).  She was born in village of Aldworth in Berkshire and baptised there on 7 March 1836.  Her father was a distant relative of Jane Austen and later became the Rector of West Wickham in Kent, where Frances was educated at home.  She married Rev. Dr. James Cartmell  (1810-1881) in 1856 in Kent. James was Master of Christ’s college (1849-1881) , served as a Chaplain to Queen Victoria (1851-1881) as well as Vice Chancellor of the University (1849,1865 and 1866).

The couple lived at the Master’s Lodge  and had four children: Margaret Richmond (1857-1926), Frances Austen (1859-1912), James Austen (1862-1921) and Mary Frances (1864-1923).  Frances died two days after the birth of her youngest daughter, presumably as a complication of childbirth. Her funeral took place on 1 March and was reported in great detail by local newspapers. It was said ‘Mrs Cartmell had won the respect and love of the poor, to whom she was a most kind and most unostentacious benefactor, and there is no question but that her loss in that parish (St. Andrew the Great) will be severely felt’.

Diagram of mourners at the graveside

The first part of the service was held at the College chapel and the coffin was carried round the College court. The coffin left College at 11 o’clock followed by 8 mourning coaches and then more carriages carrying senior University officials including : Master of Trinity Hall, the Provost of King’s College, the Master of Sidney Sussex College and the Master of Trinity College. It was reported ‘the rear was brought up by about 50 of the B.A.’s and Undergraduates of the college who all wore their academic dress and the University badge of mourning. The whole effect was most imposing. The hearse was drawn by four horses, and the coffin was one of polished oak adorned with silver ornaments’.  As a mark of respect houses on the route to the Cemetery closed their shutters and blinds.   At the Cemetery James Cartmell was said to have been ‘deeply affected and was quite unable to suppress his grief….the scene was very solemn and imposing, many of the by-standers shedding tears..the scene of inexpressible sorrow exhibited by Dr. Cartmell was more heart rending; and the greatest sympathy for him was shown by all present and indeed throughout the University and Town’.

James Cartmell did not marry again and raised his children at the College. He was a reforming Master and introduced important changes such as the ‘ability of the College to recruit teaching staff free from the condition of celibacy’.  He was also said to be ‘much interested in the relation of the University to the Town and strove for a better understanding between the two bodies’. He died of a heart attack aged 70 years old and was buried in the Christ’s College ante-chapel.

Frances and Mary Cartmell both joined  the Sisters of Mercy religious order.  James Cartmell (Jnr) studied at Christ’s College and worked as a barrister.  He later changed his family surname to Austen-Cartmell.



Newspaper archives

Cambridge University Alumni Database

by Claire Martinsen

[If you have any further information about this person, please contact us at]

Frances Eliza Cartmell