CFHS code : AG279

Parish : St Andrew the Great

Inscription : In Loving Memory of 2nd Lieut ERNEST R FREE R[G]A the beloved husband of FE FREE d July 16 1918 aged 29 also FLORA FREE the beloved wife of M FREE (and mother of the above) d June 24 1926 aged 59 also of MOSES FREE d June 4 1940 aged 75

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202985, 0.13652345 – click here for location

Free grave
Free headstone


White marble headstone with a geometric pointed arch top, a corona of oak-leaves and a cross, with inscription, mounted on a white marble plinth, and with a plain white granite kerb stones. It is located in the parish area of St Andrew the Great, close to the west path.


‘In loving memory of
2nd Lieut Ernest R Free RGA
the beloved husband of F E Free
who died July 16 1918 aged 29 years’

“To us the loss, the emptiness, the pain,
But unto him all high eternal gain.”

‘Also Flora Free, the beloved wife of M Free
(and mother of the above)
who died June 24 1926 aged 59 years’

‘Also of Moses Free
who died June 4 1940 aged 75 years’

Moses Free (centre) with his sons Frederick (left) and Ernest (right), summer 1918
Moses Free (centre) with his sons Frederick (left) and Ernest (right), summer 1918

Moses Free (1864‒1940)Policeman – see also Life Story page

Moses Free was born on 20 October 1864 in Castle Camps, near Haverhill, in Cambridgeshire (where there was a large contingent of the Free family). He was the fourth of seven children born to Philip Free and Rebecca Free (née Wenham). His father initially worked as an agricultural labourer before becoming a hawker (a travelling salesman). His mother was a smock maker. The family grew up in Castle Camps on Bumstead Road, High Street cottages and then Haverhill Road. Moses married Flora Parish in 1887 in Cambridge.

Moses and his wife Flora
Moses and his wife Flora


Flora Free (née Parish) (1867‒1926)

Flora was born on 20 May 1867 in Cambridge. She was one of at least twelve children born to Henry Parish and Eliza Parish (née Gray). Flora’s father was an engine driver for the Great Eastern Railway, who brought up his family at 81 Cambridge Place, and then 23 Great Eastern Street (Romsey Town), Cambridge. Moses and Flora had four children: Ernest (1888‒1918); Bertha Margery (1891‒1961); Frederick Charles (1892‒1970); and Rosa Elizabeth Rebecca (1896‒1987).

Ernest Robert Free (1888‒1918)WW1 soldier – see also Life Story page

The eldest child of Moses and Flora was Ernest Robert. He was born in 1888 in Cambridge. He became a chorister at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and he was educated at the County School. By 1911 he was living as a boarder at Irene, Folly Avenue, St Alban’s, Hertfordshire with the Palmer family. The local County Council employed Ernest as an assistant teacher at the Abbey School for five years. He then went through a course of training at Goldsmith’s College, London. After he finished there the London County Council employed him. At the beginning of 1916 Ernest joined the Honourable Artillery Company (see his uniform above, with the artillery gun on his cap badge and the exploding shells on his lapels) and served in France.

On 27 October 1917 Ernest married Frances Emily Vincent at St Peter, Brockley, London. She was known as Effie. Effie was the second of four children born to Edward Vincent and Emma Martha Vincent (née Lilley). Her father was a farrier’s warehouseman and brought up his family in Walworth, London. Seven months after Ernest and Effie married Ernest was in England in order to take up a commission. He was gazetted as a 2nd Lieutenant on 20 May 1918.
Effie returned as a 24-year-old widow to Deptford, later moving to the south coast after the death of her mother. She never remarried. Every year on Ernest’s birthday, she came to Cambridge and put flowers on his grave. Rosa (see below) also tended the grave every Saturday afternoon until very late in her life. Effie died in January 1990, aged 95, in Sussex.

Moses’ and Flora’s other three children

Moses and family
Moses and family

Moses’ and Flora’s younger son was Frederick Charles (1892–1970). He was born on 16 June 1892 in Cambridge. He worked as a solicitor’s clerk before the war. Like his older brother he also served during the war as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Durham Light Infantry, but unlike his brother he survived. He married Gladys Ellen Crosier (1892‒1970) of 33 Mawson Road (Petersfield) in 1917 in Cambridge. They had three children: Peggy M (1923‒23); Douglas Charles (1924‒86); and John Brand (1927‒2007). (See download for report of their wedding.) He lived on Glisson Road until the mid-20th century, when he moved to Queen Edith’s Way, Cambridge. He died on 8 March 1970 in Cambridge. His two grandsons (Moses’ great-grandsons) still live in the Cambridge area today.

Frederick Free wedding report

Moses and Flora also had two daughters. The elder, Bertha Margery was born on 21 February 1891 in Cambridge. Before her marriage she worked as a house parlourmaid at 7 Harvey Road, Cambridge. This was the household of the Rev. Alan England Brooke, a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge (he eventually became Provost between 1926 and 1933). Bertha married Arthur Henry Batterbee (1887-1952) on 12 July 1911 in Cambridge. They had four children: Frederick James (1912‒?); twin daughters: Kathleen Flora Harriet (1921‒2009) and Margaret R E (1921‒); and Ernest Arthur (1923‒44). Before the war Arthur was a publican at the Burleigh Arms, Burleigh Street, Cambridge. During the war Arthur enlisted in the Labour Corps. During World War II Arthur and Bertha’s son, Ernest, was a pilot. He was shot down over Holland (where he is buried) on 19 August 1944 aged 21.

Rosa Free
Rosa Free

Bertha Margery’s younger sister was Rosa Eliza Rebecca (1896–1987). She was born on 25 November 1896 in Cambridge. Rosa was a teacher at Romsey School (corner of Coleridge Road and Mill Road), and is remembered by many local residents as the redoubtable spinster ‛Miss Free’, with her hair done up in a bun. She was among many things a keen photographer, she also played tennis until late in life and drove a small car. She was a parishioner at St Paul’s Church and having lived at 50 Covent Garden until about 1980 ended her days in the Coronation Street Home for old people. She died on 24 January 1987 in Cambridge.

War Graves Photographic Project
Census records: 1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
London, England, Marriages and Banns, 1754-1921
Spalding’s street directories
British Army WW1 Service Records, 1914-1920
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914-1919
Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 26 July 1918

Communications from family members, Marilyn Coetzee and Becky Proctor

By Ian Bent and Emma Easterbrook with thanks to Judy Lester

Ernest Robert Free; Flora Free; Moses Free