CFHS code : AS147

Parish : All Saints

Inscription : ILO JOHN FOSTER d March 24 1878 aged 50 also of MARTHA wife of the above d Dec 28 1899 aged 65

Monument : Headstone

Above information amended from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

The headstone in February 2019.

Hidden away in the north east corner of the parish. The photos was taken after tree clearance.


In Loving Remembrance Of

JOHN FOSTER who died March 24 1878.
Aged 50 years.

Also of MARTHA wife of the above Who died Dec. 28. 1899.
Aged 65 years.

John Foster (1827 – 24 March 1878)

John was born in Godmanchester near Huntingdon and was the son of James.  In 1851 he was living and working at Jesus College and married Martha Bullard on 23 December 1856 in  Godmanchester.   The couple had at least seven children: Agnes (1857-1920), John Walter (1859-1862), Herbert (1862-1914), James (1863-), Arthur John (1866-1896), Kate Elizabeth (1869-) and Henry Ernest (1873-1937).

The family lived at 5 Jesus Terrace (until at least 1862) then 1 Malcolm Street.  Their eldest son died aged 3 years old of ‘inflammation of the lungs, following measles’, daughter Kate was blind and was educated at a school for the blind in Bristol and their son Arthur John died aged 29 years old.

John died ‘very suddenly’ at his home due to heart disease.  The Cambridge Independent Press printed a short obituary and reported that ‘a gloom was cast over Jesus College’ when his death was announced.  It said that John had been employed by the college for nearly 35 years and had started as an assistant in the butteries before working himself up to the position of head gyp and then head porter.  The newspaper said ‘he was a man of strict integrity, thoroughly upright and trustworthy.  He always performed his responsible duties most consciously and with care, regularity and precision so as to gain the esteem and regard of those in authority as well as of all other members of the college to which he was devoted’.

He was buried at Mill Road Cemetery on 28 March and the funeral was attended by all the college fellows.  His coffin was carried to the grave side by six ‘of the principal college servants’.

Martha Foster (née Bullard) (1832 –  28 December 1899)

Martha was the daughter of publican Robert and his wife Elizabeth and was also born in Godmanchester.  She was baptised there on 22 July 1832.   Her father died when she was young, and she then grew up with her mother and stepfather Charles Lamb.  Aged 19 (1851) she was working as a dressmaker before marrying John in 1854.

After she was widowed she ran a Lodging House from 1 Malcolm Street (1881/1891) before later moving to live at James Street. Martha died at Addenbrookes Hospital aged 65 years old.

John’s brother James(1826-1914) was a noted boat builder in Cambridge.  In 1881 he was living at the University Boat House and was employing 6 people in his business. John and Martha’s son Herbert became a University boatman, and another son James worked in his uncle’s boatbuilding business.



Newspaper archives

by Claire Martinsen

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John Foster; Martha Foster