CFHS code : AG75

Parish : St Andrew the Great

Inscription : IFR ROBERT FYNN d Jan 3 1892 aged 77 many years at the University Library also MARY his wife d Jan 6 1892 aged 75 also MARY ELIZABETH MARSHALL daughter of the above b Feb 16 1841 d Feb 16 1895

Monument : Headstone

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202589, 0.13700207 – click here for location

Fynn headstone 2019


Roughly 10 rows from the central path on the southern border of the  parish – south of the centre circle.


In Fond Remembrance of ROBERT FYNN who died January 3 1892 aged 77 years

Many years at the University Library

Also MARY his wife who died January 6th 1892 aged 75  years

“In death they were reunited”

Also MARY ELIZABETH MARSHALL daughter of the above born Feb’y 16 1841 died Feb 16th 1895

Relationships – Husband, wife & daughter.
Robert & Mary were buried on the same day – January 9th 1892

Robert Fynn (1814- 1892)

John Fynn

Robert was the son of John and Sarah. John was a porter at Corpus Christi College. Robert was born and baptised in the parish of St Bene’t’s on 7th July 1814.  The fact that he was baptised so quickly suggests that it was not thought that he would survive.  In fact, he lived to the age of 77; dying at 17 Earl Street,  in Cambridge in early 1892.
Robert married Mary Reeves in Cambridge on January 1st 1840, with Robert describing himself as a “Bookbinder”.

They had nine children: Mary E.  (b 1841), Emma  (b 1843), Charles  (b 1844), Sophia (b 1847), Sarah Sophia (b 1849) (She married a Pratt ASTLE, who would appear to be the brother  of Hannah Hills husband, during the December 1873 Quarter), Robert John (b 1850) ( A Robert John Fynn married in Lambeth in the June quarter of 1879.  He and his brother Frederick appear to have married Cable sisters; one of whom committed suicide shortly after her marriage to Frederick.), Frederick (b 1854), Eliza (b 1859), and Hannah Hills -(b c. 1856) (She  married a John Astle on 22 November 1882. Her sister Sarah Sophia also married an Astle.

In Robert’s day the staff of the Library grew, but remained very small, latterly comprising Librarian, one or two Under-Librarians, an Assistant Under-Librarian, six to nine Library Assistants, two pasters, a porter, a handyman/cleaner and two “boys”. The Library, of course, was still in the Old Schools/Cockerell Building by Senate House Passage.

The original Library catalogues were in manuscript. Around March 1854 it was decided to begin the guardbook catalogue with the records on printed slips pasted into it, initially just for newly catalogued books. In the 1860s a retrospective project was begun, adding printed slips for the older books in the manuscript catalogues. This is the guardbook catalogue with the dark green binders still in the Catalogue Hall. It was Robert’s job to paste the printed slips into the volumes, using a thin line a flour and water paste top and bottom of each slip and leaving the sides unpasted in order that a scalpel could be inserted when it became necessary to move a slip. This was fairly skilled work, as for more prolific authors there are so called schemes for arranging the slips (complete works, selections from their works, selected works, separate titles, works edited by the author, works about the author etc.) never mind the really tricky sections such as Bible or Cambridge University, i.e. slips are not always inserted in simple alphabetical order. There were also foreign languages to consider.

Here are some relevant extracts from University sources:

“In order to expedite the progress of the work it is desirable to employ another hand in pasting the titles which have been so copied and in otherwise contributing to the details of the catalogue. They, therefore, recommend, after conferring with the Librarian, that the services of an additional assistant be engaged for these purposes at a remuneration not exceeding one pound a week.” (Syndicate minute, 27/3/1854)

“To engage the services of Robert Fynn for the work described in the report of the Syndicate made to the Senate on 27 March 1854 at the remuneration of one pound a week.” (SM, 15/5/1854)

“The Vice-Chancellor read a letter from Mr Hobson relative to the employment of Mr Fynn in the Library during the time which would elapse before Long Vacation, when the work of making the catalogue, for which he was originally employed, will be resumed. The Syndicate were of the opinion that he should be continued in the Library during that time.” (SM, 18/4/1860)

“An application from William [sic] Fynn to be allowed to work for an increased period of time daily at 6d per hour was refused, the Syndicate not considering it desirable that he should be allowed the use of a candle after dark.” (SM, 17/10/1860)

“It was agreed at the next meeting an application from R. Fynn for increase of salary be considered.” (SM, 24/4/1861)

“It was agreed to allow 2/6 per week in addition to the payment now received by Robert Fynn.” (SM, 8/5/1861)

“That the Vice-Chancellor be requested to propose a Grace sanctioning the permanent employment of a boy for menial work in the Library at a salary not exceeding ten shillings per week to be fixed from time to time by the Library Syndicate.” (SM, 16/11/1864)

“To raise the wages of Robert Fynn, Junior, the boy employed under the authority of the Grace of the Senate passed 24 Novr 1864, from 6/- to 7/- per week.” (SM, 8/11/1865)

“The Vice-Chancellor having read an application from Robert Fynn, one of the Library Assistants, for an increase of wages, it was agreed to consider such application at a future meeting.” (SM, 4/12/1866)

“That Robert Fynn’s wages be increased from 26/6 to 28/-.” (SM, 11/12/1866)

“To authorise the Librarian to dismiss the boy R.J. Fynn, and to engage another boy at five shillings per week.” (SM, 5/2/1868)

“A memorial from three of the Library Assistants with reference to the scheme for the remuneration of their services, an application from Fynn the Paster for an increase of salary and other points connected with the salaries of Library staff were referred to the same Subsyndicate to report upon them.” (SM, 17/2/1875)

“The wages of the Paster and Porter be raised from 28s to 32s a week.” (Printed report of the Library Syndicate to the Senate, 28/4/1875, with manuscript note: “Confirmed by Grace May 13, 1875, the augmentation to the Paster’s & Porter’s wages being limited to the present Paster & Porter.”)

“The wages of R. Fynn and H. Hancock were increased” (21st Annual report of the Library Syndicate, 26/5/1875)
you can read about the porter Henry Hancock is also buried in this cemetery HERE.

“The Paster and the Porter having both applied for an increase of wages, the Librarian was requested to make enquiries at the Press and elsewhere for facts which might aid the Syndicate in coming to a decision.” (SM, 11/5/1881)

“It was agreed that the Vice-Chancellor be requested to bring forward a Grace to raise the wages of R. Fynn, Paster, from 32/- to 38/- a week, and of H. Hancock, Porter, from 25/- to 35/- a week, in consideration of their long and faithful service in the Library. (N.B. The Librarian had laid before the Syndicate the result of his enquiries at the University Press, at Messrs Macmillans, and at Mr Hawes’ and Messrs Sayer & Wilson’s, upon the subject of wages.” (SM, 25/5/1881)

“The wages of R. Fynn and H. Hancock have been raised.” (27th Annual report of the Library Syndicate, 8/6/1881)

[An system of annual increments had been introduced for the Library Assistants, originally £4.00 p.a., later £10.00 or £5.00 depending of length of service. No such scheme was introduced for lower grades or Library Servants, as they were occasionally called, during Robert’s employment, hence the applications for wage increases.]

“It was agreed that the Vice-Chancellor be requested to bring forward a Grace to the effect that the Library Syndicate be authorised to employ a second Paster, at a pound a week.” (SM, 26/10/1881)

“The Syndicate having been authorised by Grace Nov. 19, 1881, to employ a second Paster at wages not exceeding £1 per week, H.E. Hancock was appointed Second Paster, and the Librarian was authorised to pay him one pound a week.” (SM, 23/11/1881)

“A letter having been read from Mr Lestourgeon to the Librarian on R. Fynn’s state of health , it was agreed to excuse Fynn from attending between 9 and 10 a.m. during the three months November, December and January next.” (SM, 31/10/1883)

“The Librarian having reported that H.E. Hancock’s health, which has been giving way for some time past, had now rendered his retirement from the work of Second Paster necessary, it was agreed to consider at the next meeting what steps should be taken in consequence of his retirement.” (SM, 28/11/1883)

“A sum of ten pounds was placed at the disposal of the Librarian to be used at his discretion for the benefit of H.E. Hancock” (SM, 12/12/1883)

“It was agreed to appoint Andrew Baldrey (aged 24) Second Paster from 1 January 1884 and the Librarian was authorised to pay him five shillings a week in addition to the twenty shillings sanctioned by Grace 19 Nov. 1881, until recommendation can be submitted to the Senate next term.” (also SM, 12/12/1883)

“R. Fynn was allowed to come at ten in the morning, instead of nine, during the next two months of February & March.” (SM, 30/1/1884)

[Henceforth it was agreed in late October/November each year in very similar words that Robert could start work at 10.00 rather than 09.00 during November to March. (SM, 26/11/1884, 11/11/1885, 27/10/1886, 2/11/1887, 31/10/1888, 30/10/1889, 5/11/1890, 21/10/1891)

“An application from R. Fynn, Senior Paster, was read, asking for an increase of wages, and it was agreed that the Vice-Chancellor be requested to bring forward a Grace to increase Fynn’s wages from 38/- a week to £2/-/- a week. (N.B. They were raised from 32/- to 38/- by Grace 2 June 1881)” (SM, 15/10/1884)

“By Grace of Oct. 23, 1884, the wages of R. Fynn, Senior Paster, were raised from 38s to £2 a week.” (31st Annual report of the Library Syndicate, 26/6/1885)

The 1871 census shows Robert as a bookbinder, living with his wife Mary (then 54) and their 27 years old daughter Emma at 7 Earl Street.   Emma is marked as an “imbecile”.  Mary’s mother, 77 years old  Elizabeth Reeves was also living with them.  She is described as a widow and “Formerly Keeper of the Guildhall” The 1881 census shows Robert as an Assistant Librarian; living with his wife Mary (then 64) and their 37 years old daughter Emma at 7 Earl Street.

The 1891 census shows Robert as an Assistant Librarian (University), living with his wife Mary (then 74) and their  daughter Emma at 17 Earl Street,  Also living with the family was a granddaughter Mary Ellen Artte, 16 years old and  born in Oakthorpe, Derbyshire.

Robert died on 3 January 1892 and this was reported in the University documents as follows:

“The Librarian reported the death of Mr R. Fynn, Senior Paster, & was requested to write a letter to his son conveying to him the Syndicate’s appreciation of Mr Fynn’s long and faithful service.” (SM, 20/1/1892)

“Robert Fynn, Senior Paster, died on January 3, after nearly 38 years of faithful service in the Library.” (39th Annual report of the Library Syndicate, 24/5/1893

Mary Fynn (nee Reeves) (d 1892)

Mary was the daughter of James and Elizabeth Reeves. James was a groom and later “town hall keeper”.

The family lived in Christs Lane (1820). 

Mary died within three days of her husband, Robert and of the same cause.  The ‘flu was to strike other parts of the Fynn dynasty, wiping out husband and wife couples after WW1, leaving very young offspring.

Mary Elizabeth Marshall (1841-1895)

Mary was the eldest child of Robert and Mary Fynn. In 1871 she was at the London home of her aunt and uncle Susan and Edward Grove. 10 years later she married widower James Frederick Marshall at St. George’s Hanover Square, London. The 1881 census shows them living at 11 St John’s Street with 2 of James’ children from his 1st marriage. James (born 1830 in Trumpington) was a wine and spirit merchant. They had a daughter, Grace Evelyn, in 1883. In 1901 Grace was working as a draper’s apprentice in Ely.

When Mary died she was living at 6 Peas Hill, in the centre of Cambridge.

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


Annual reports of the Library Syndicate, 1854-1900 (ULIB 1/1/1) (printed);

Minute books of the Library Syndicate, 1852-1899 (ULIB 1/2/2-4) (manuscript);

History of the Library, 1850-1900 (ULIB 6/5/3-5) (scrapbooks of largely printed items).

by Jacky Cox, Colin Clarkson and Robin Mansfield

Mary Fynn; Robert Fynn; Mary Elizabeth Marshall