CFHS code : BE138

Parish : St Bene’t


Monument : Headstone

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.20256, 0.13610797 – click here for location

Humphry family grave
Humphry headstone


This limestone (Ketton stone) sculpted headstone surmounted by Celtic cross, in the parish area of St Bene’t, is located against the west boundary wall about 30 yards south of the Lodge, to the left of the western path and close to the listed graves of James Rattee and the Moyes family.  Unusual is the fact that the inscription bears just names, with no dates.


[All in Gothic type]
Catharine Humphry

Sir George Murray Humphry

Mary Lady Humphry

Edith Humphry

Relationship:  Mary was George Murray Humphry’s wife.  Catharine and Edith were their daughters.

Relatives buried elsewhere in the cemetery

Laurence Humphry was  George’s nephew (son of George’s brother Joseph Thomas Humphry).  Janet Stuart Geldard  was the niece of both George and Mary Humphry (she was the daughter of Mary’s younger sister Jessie Oliver McNab, who married George Murray Humphry’s brother, Joseph Thomas Humphry).

Catharine Humphry (c.1856‒1857)

Catherine was baptised at St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge on 1 September 1856, first daughter of George Murray Humphry and his wife Mary.  She was buried on 28 February 1857 at the age of six months, which suggests that she was born in August 1856, hence the second child of George and Mary (after Alfred Paget).  She was thus also the first of the four deaths commemorated by this monument.

 Sir George Murray Humphry (1820‒1896)

George Murray Humphry was born in Sudbury, Suffolk, on 18 July 1820, the third son of William Wood Humphry, barrister.  He was educated at the grammar schools of Sudbury and Dedham.  In 1836 he was apprenticed to John Green Crosse, surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, and in 1839 entered St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London as a student.  He passed the first M.B. examination of London University in 1840, and was admitted a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1841, becoming a licenciate of the Society of Apothecaries in 1842.  In 1847, while teaching in London, he became a fellow-commoner (a rank between ordinary student and nobleman) of Downing College, Cambridge, gaining his M.D. in 1859, in which year he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

George married Mary McNab, daughter of Daniel Robert McNab, general practitioner of Epping, Essex, in September 1849.  By 1851 the couple were living at 6 Higher Terrace Tormoham (=Torquay), Devon.  They must have been in Cambridge by 1856, because their daughter Catherine (see above), their second child, was born in the summer of that year and baptized at St Bene’t’s Church and then buried the following February.  By 1861 they were living in Corpus Buildings (four dwellings then standing on the east side of Trumpington Street between Corpus Christi College and St Bene’t Street).  By then they had their son Alfred Paget Humphry, and a nephew, Henry Boycott with them.  They also had a substantial staff: a German governess and four servants.

In 1866 Cambridge University  appointed him its Professor of Human Anatomy.  By 1871 the family was living at “The Leys”, Trumpington Street, and the couple had a daughter, Edith (see below), and a niece, Catherine M Humphry, staying with them, also an undergraduate visitor, Algernon Lord Inverarie, a Belgian governess, a cook, a footman, and two housemaids.  By 1881 they were living at “Grove Lodge”, a house immediately south of the Fitzwilliam Museum on the west side of Trumpington Street, which would be the family home for the rest of their lives.  Alfred and Edith were still living with them, as was Alfred’s wife Elizabeth (née Boycott), two grandsons, Martin George and Stewart, and a grand daughter less than a month old and as yet unnamed, and also a niece, Janet Stuart Humphry (who was to marry Christopher Geldard two years later).

In 1883, George resigned his professorship of human anatomy, and took up the newly created professorship of surgery in the University.  In 1891 he was knighted.  In the same year Edith was still living at Grove Lodge, and the family had seven servants, a governess and a nurse (for whom is unclear!).

George died on 24 September 1896 aged 76, and was buried five days later in the parish area of St Bene’t in Mill Road Cemetery.  In his will, he left effects worth £80,199 0s 4d to his widow and his son Alfred.  Mary outlived him by nine years, continuing to reside at Grove Lodge.

See obituary in British Medical Journal

 Mary Lady Humphry (née McNab) (c.1825‒1905)

Mary McNab was born in around 1825, daughter of Daniel Robert McNab, surgeon and general practitioner of High Street, Epping, Essex, and his wife Mary.  She had at least two younger siblings: Jessie Oliver and Catherine.  The household had a substantial staff, including a governess, two maids and a manservant, to which by 1851 a stable boy had been added.

Alfred Paget Humphry's entry in Directory of Gentlemen (1905)
Alfred Paget Humphry’s entry in Directory of Gentlemen (1905)

Mary married George Murray Humphry (see above) in September 1849 in Epping.  By 1851 the couple were living a 6 Higher Terrace, Tormoham (=Torquay), Devon.  Mary had given birth to her first child, Alfred Paget, in 1850, and in August 1856 gave birth to a daughter, Catherine, by which time they were living in Corpus Buildings, Trumpington Street, Cambridge;  however, Catherine died six months later.  The third child, Edith (see below), was born in 1861, and would live with her parents until their deaths in 1896 and 1905.  By 1881 Mary’s household included her son and his wife Elizabeth (née Boycott), two grandsons, Martin George, Stewart, and a grand daughter less than one month old and as yet without first name.

In 1896, George died.  Mary remained at Grove Lodge for the rest of her life.  In 1901 her household still included unmarried daughter Edith, her old Belgian governess, Maria Draps ‒ who had been with her at least thirty years ‒ a cook, parlour maid and housemaid.  She died in June 1905 aged 80, and was buried on the 19th of that month in the grave of her baby daughter and husband.

Edith Humphry (1861‒1927)

Edith was born on 13 April 1861, second daughter to George Murray Humphry and his wife Mary.  So far as can be told, she remained permanently in the family home on Trumpington Street, was of “no occupation”, and certainly never married.

After her mother’s death in 1905, Edith continued to live at Grove Lodge for at least six further years.  In 1911, her household there comprised four women: herself, her old Belgian governess Maria Draps (now called “visitor”), and two servants.  She died in 1927, aged 65, her address given as “Edale”, Clarence Road, St Alban’s, Hertfordshire ‒ it is not clear whether she had moved there, or was merely visiting.  Her body must have been brought back to Cambridge, for she was buried with her baby sister, father and mother on 8 July of that year.

England census reports 1841 to 1901, England & Wales census report 1911
Wikipedia (“George Murray Humphry”) [visited 16 December 2016]
England & Wales Christening Index 1530‒1980
England & Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837‒1915
England & Wales National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations) 1858‒1966, 1973‒1995
St Bene’t’s Church, Cambridge, baptismal and burial registers
United Kingdom Families
Private comunications from Mary Rose Rubie, great great granddaughter of George Murray Humphry

 By Ian Bent and Mary Naylor

Catharine Humphry; Edith Humphry; George Murray Humphry; Mary Humphry