CFHS code : AG382 (Also transcribed as AG422 which has now been deleted)

Parish : St Andrew the Great

Inscription : In Memory of WILLIAM LOFTS Porter of Christs College d 26 November 1868 aged 37 five lines difficult to read but probably refer to the burial of his children MARIA, ALICE,  WILLIAM also EMMA wife of the above  d 10 July 1891 aged 64

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information amended from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.202925, 0.13682793 – click here for location

Lofts headstone 2016


Three monuments north of the path that bisects the parish west to east and roughly eight rows from the west path. The inscription is now virtually illegible except for the names William and Emma. Parish Records were used to help complete the inscription.


Porter of Christs College
Died 26 November 1868 aged 37 years

And the children

MARIA died ……………………..

ALICE died March 1[?] ………………

WILLIAM died …………………………..

Also EMMA wife of the above  d 10 July 1891 aged 64

William Lofts (c.1832 – 26 November 1868)

William was the son of William and Maria Lofts. William Lofts senior was an Emmanuel College servant for over fifty years.  He was born in Cambridge and grew up on Prospect Row.  He married Emma Houlden at St Andrew’s the Great church on 31 December 1850. They had four children: Maria (1851), Helen (1853), Alice (1855) and William (1858). Only Helen survived infancy. In March 1851 the couple were living at St Andrews Court, where William was an inn keeper. By 1855 William had become a porter at Christs College and the couple were lived in the Porter’s Lodge.

William died in November 1868 in what newspapers reported as a ‘fatal election disturbance’. On 17 November the borough elections were held and ‘a large crowd of several thousand were assembled in front of the Independent Press Office for the purpose of hearing addresses from the newly elected Liberal members’.  Charles Gray who ran the Bird Bolt Hotel, was drunk and drove his fly [carriage] up and down the street several times with his passengers wearing ‘Tory colours’.  The crowd grew irritated as they were mainly Liberal voters, but Mr Gray refused to stop claiming he was entitled to drive where ever he liked. After some time the crowd turned the fly over in Market Street, and the resulting melée resulted in a brawl between town and gown.  The undergraduates took refuge in Christ’s College and shut the gates behind them.  The crowd of townsfolk outside the gates began to throw mud and stones at the gates, and when William Lofts came out of the gates he was struck in the eye with a stone.  William Lofts appeared to have been shaken as a result and immediately afterwards was said to be ‘in a very faint and low condition, very much frightened. His right eye was much swollen and the blood was running from the right corner’.  William died on 26 November of what was said to be ‘nervous exhaustion’ as a result of the incident.  At the inquest the doctor reported ‘This particular temperament was such that a wound of that description would induce the exhaustion from which he died. It would not have done so in a healthy person. The wound was not in itself dangerous. His was a temperament easily acted up on by any excitement or stimulant’.

George Clarke a shoe clicker of Gwydir Street was charged with the manslaughter of William Lofts.  He admitted to throwing the stone, and said that a ‘tall university man threw a stone at me, and hit me on the forehead, and I directly picked up the stone again and threw it at him; it missed him and unfortunately hit the porter in the eye, and I am very sorry for it’.  He was found guilty of manslaughter.  There was much discussion at the trial of the state of mind of William Lofts.  He had seemed fine for some days and was recovering but then ‘signs of tremour and delirium’ set in for the last two days of his life.  William had been seeing the doctor for three years and was said to be ‘constitutionally weak and his mode of living would act prejudicially to a man of his temperament’.

William Lofts was buried at Mill Road, and his funeral cortege left from Christ’s College.  Many of the fellows of Christ’s College and also of Emmanuel College (where his father William Lofts worked, and where he too had worked briefly) attended the funeral service.  The service at the graveside was read by the Master of the College who was said to have been ‘most deeply affected during the proceedings’.  The College gates and lodge were closed throughout the day.

Emma Lofts (née Houlden) (1828 – 1891) 

Emma was the youngest child of Robert and Mary Houlden . She was born in the parish of Andrew the Less in an area known as the Gravel Pits This may have been near Coldham’s Lane. She was baptised on May 18th 1828.   At that time her father was a milkman. By 1841 the family had moved to Silver Street and Robert was now a “Victualer” – he may have sold alcohol in a shop or run a pub. After her husband’s death she ran a lodging house at 10 Brunswick Walk. Living with her was her daughter Helen who was a piano teacher.  She died at an address in Brunswick Place.  Helen Lofts did  not marry and after her mother’s death went to work as a domestic servant to  Luke and Emma Hosegood who ran the Workhouse at 81 Mill Road.

Maria Lofts (1851 – 1852)

Maria was privately baptised on December 7th 1851 when the family were living at St Andrew’s Court. She was buried on October 13th the following year. Private baptisms often took place at home if a child was likely to die.

Alice Maria Lofts (1855 – 1856)

Alice was privately baptised on March 16th and buried on March 20th 1856. The burial record says she was 8 months old but the inscription on the headstone looks like 11 months. Her birth was registered in the last quarter of 1855.

William Robert Lofts (1858 – 1859)

William was baptised on June 6th 1858 and buried on February 19th the following year when he was 11 months old.



Newspaper archives

CFHS Transcripts of parish records

by Claire Martinsen and Mary Naylor

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

Alice Lofts; Emma Lofts; Maria Lofts; William Lofts; William Lofts