CFHS code : HT291

Parish : Holy Trinity

Inscription : In Memory of MARY the beloved wife of WILLIAM ROWTON d July 10 1879 aged 70

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Mary Rowton grave
Mary Rowton headstone


This limestone headstone with fluted sides and decoratively carved floral shoulders and crown, and with kerb stones, in the parish area of Holy Trinity, stands on the southeast corner of the junction between the central path and the south path.


In memory of Mary
the beloved wife of William Rowton
who died July 10 1879 aged 70 years

[unused space for husband’s inscription]

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord.
That they may rest from their labours.
And their works do follow them.

Mary Rowton (née Gibson) (1809‒1879)

Mary Gibson was born in Cambridge on 27 June 1809, daughter of William Gibson, stationer and his wife Sophia (née Smith), and baptised at St Botolph’s Church on 31 July of that year.  Her siblings included James Edward (1811‒12), Sophia Smith (b 1813) and William Lewis (b 1815).  Nothing is known of her childhood and schooling.  By 1841, her mother, whose occupation was “college draper” (i.e. making clothes and/or academic robes for one of the colleges ‒ perhaps Corpus Christi), appears to have been widowed, and was living on Trumpington Street with Mary, described as “governess”, and son William.

Mary Gibson married William Paul Ivitt Rowton (1819‒94), ironmonger of Trumpington Street, at the church of St Benedict (Bene’t) on 3 July 1849.  The marriage register describes her as “preceptress [i.e. teacher] of Corpus Buildings”.  Corpus Buildings at that time comprised 55‒59 Trumpington Street, the row of houses and shops between Corpus Christi College and St Bene’t Street ‒ the Gibson home being No. 57.  By 1851 Mary and William were living with her 66-year-old widowed mother Sophia at that address, together with  a 10-year-old grandson of Sophia’s (Thomas Clayton), an assistant in the hosiery shop, and a servant.

In 1861, Mary and William were living at 14 Market Hill (i.e. the central market place) with one servant.  In 1871, William was still at that address, whereas Mary is recorded as a “lodger” at 2 Old Cottages, St Germain’s Road, Lewisham, Kent, with a fellow-lodger Marianne Wiseman also of Cambridge.  The householder of the two cottages was Samuel Waite, a Yorkshireman and a waste inspector for Lambeth, with his wife and daughter, and they had another mother and son in the same cottage with Mary and Marianne.  Mary’s presence there is unexplained: “lodger” suggests a longer-term stay than “visitor”, yet there is no obvious relationship between Mary and Samuel Waite.

Mary evidently returned to Cambridge, for she died there on 10 July 1879 and was buried in the parish area of Holy Trinity, Mill Road Cemetery on the 15th.   The address given in the Holy Trinity burial register is “Market Street”.

 Sources :
England census reports 1841 to 1891
England Select Births and Christenings 1538‒1975
All England & Wales Civil Registration Marriage Index 1837‒1915
England & Wales Civil Registration Death Index 1837‒1915
Church of St Botolph, Cambridge baptismal and marriage registers
Church of St Andrew the Great, Cambridge baptismal register (William)
Church of St Benedict (Bene’t), Cambridge marriage register
Church of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, burial register

By Ian Bent

Mary Rowton