PC 16 Mark Sheldrick was born in Thriplow, a village south of Cambridge now famous for its annual daffodil festival, in 1851. He was the second of seven children of Henry and Esther Sheldrick, both Thriplow-born. Henry was a farm worker, and by 1861, at the age of 11, Mark had followed his father on to the land, as had his older and younger brothers (13 and 9 – note at how young an age boys went to work in those days!).
Police Force and family
Sometime during the next 10 years, Mark turned his back on farm work and Thriplow: by 1871 he was living at 36 Bradmore Street, off East Road in Cambridge, where at 21 he had joined the Borough Police Force. By 1881 he had a wife, Mary Ann (from Lincolnshire), and the couple were living at 54 South Street (parallel with Bradmore Street, and now absorbed into the Anglia Ruskin University campus). By 1891 they had four children, the oldest of whom, William Henry, was a labourer to a whitesmith (i.e. someone who makes articles out of tin). The second child, born in 1879, was Charlotte, and the younger two were Julia and May.
But in 1892, catastrophe struck the family. They were living at 5 South Street at the time. First William Henry died on January 12, of tuberculosis; then Mark himself died eleven days later, of pneumonia and influenza.
On 8 February 1892, the widow was awarded the maximum pension of £120 for herself and her three daughters: £40 in outright payment, £80 to be invested in the Post Office Savings Bank until the daughters reached the age of 21. However, Mary Ann survived only 10 months more, dying on 12 December 1892.
How the three daughters coped under these tragic circumstances we do not know. Charlotte, as the inscription here tells us, overcame whatever childhood difficulties she experienced and lived to be 90, dying in 1968. The other two children are not buried in Mill Road Cemetery.
Parish : St Andrew the Less
1851, 1861, 1871, 1881 and 1891 census reports
Spalding’s street directories
death certificates Cambridge County Council; Watch Committee minute books (Shire Hall Archive)
communication from Melissa McGreechan
By Ian Bent