CFHS code : HT292

Parish : Holy Trinity

Inscription : Sacred to the Memory of LOUISA ELIZABETH PENSON d December 2nd 1866 aged 73 also of PETER PENSON husband of the above d March 18th 1870 aged 82

Monument : Headstone (fallen)/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Penson headstone 2015



Sacred to the Memory of LOUISA ELIZABETH PENSON who died December 2nd 1866 aged 73 years

Also of PETER PENSON husband of the above d March 18th 1870 aged 82

Louisa Elizabeth Penson (née Barley) (11 June 1792 – 2 December 1866)

Louisa was born in Picadilly, London and was the daughter of John and Elizabeth. She was bptised in Westminster on 2 September 1792 and married Rev. Peter Penson at St. Margaret’s Church, Durham on 30 April 1822.  The couple did not have any children and she died at 3 Newmarket Road. Her funeral took place on 7 December 1866.

Although her age was registered as 73 years old, it is thought she was actually 74 years old.

Rev. Peter Penson (1788 – 18 March 1870)

Peter was born in Oxford and baptised at St. Peter in the East Church on 19 November 1788. He was the son of Robert and Lucy (née Heynes) Penson  and was admitted to New College, Oxford in 1804 aged 16 years old. He received a B.A. in 1808, an M.A. in 1811 and was ordained as a chaplain.  He was at Christ Church, Oxford (1812-1816) and was clerk at Magdalen Collge (1807-1812). He then went as a canon to Durham Cathedral (1815) and was appointed vicar of St. Oswald’s Church, Durham in July 1819.

He was chair of the Durham Church Missionary Assocation,  Secretary of the Durham Auxiliary Bible Society and Assocation (1828) and chair of the Durham Auxiliary Religious Tract Society (1829). He served as treasurer of the Durham Compassionate Society and was a generous contributor to charitable causes throughout the town. He was on the committee of the Harmonic Society of Durham, which was made up of singers from the Cathedral choir [male and boys] together with local amateur singers (1939).

However he left Durham in disgrace in 1848 which was widely reported in local and press.  He appeared before magistrates in March 1848 charged with assaulting William Oliver, a printer and one of the choir members of St. Oswold’s ‘with intent to commit an unnatural crime’. The hearing was held in private, and press were not allowed to attend.  The Durham Chronicle however reported that ‘the Rev. gentleman who was very pale and wore an extremely dejected appearance was conducted to prison by Inspector Robison; but after a short sojourn there, was liberated on bail, on his own and another surety of £50 each’. The newspaper reported that had they been allowed to report the hearing ‘a brief statement of the leading facts might have put down the thousand and one stories, prejudicial to the accused which are now passing from mouth to mouth and thus have been beneficial rather than injurious’.

The case was heard in Newcastle in August 1848 and the prosecution lawyer asked for the case to be dismissed, as one of the witnesses had died. Peter Penson’s lawyer stated he was ready to stand trial, but the judge agreed that it was a good decision’ not bringing into public discussion a case which in all probability would not terminate in a conviction’.

Peter and Louisa Penson moved to live at 3 Newmarket Road, and he was described as a ‘clergyman without cure of souls’. In 1861 they were living with their niece Lucy Penson and servant Ann Hindmarsh. Peter Penson died at Newmarket Road aged 82 years old.

Peter’s brother Charles Penson is also buried at Mill Road Cemetery.



Newspaper archives

Parish burial records transcribed by CFHS

by Claire Martinsen

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Louisa Elizabeth Penson; Peter Penson