CFHS code :

Parish : St Paul

Inscription : In Loving Memory of WILLIAM WESLEY who died suddenly April 14 1906 aged 51 also of his wife SARAH d September 7 1949 aged 94

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey



William Wesley (1854 –  14 April 1906)

William was the illegitimate son of Anna Maria Westley (1830-1893).  His mother married Robert Garner in 1857 and after Robert died in 1860 , then married William Stretch (1825-1886). William grew up at  7 Black Lion Yard, and his step father was a labourer, his mother a charwoman. William married Sarah Woodcock on Christmas Day 1875 at St Paul’s Church and named William Stretch as his father on the marriage documentation.  The couple had five children: Ethel Marion (1877-1961), Mary Alice (187801962), George Reginald William (1882-1882), William George (1886-1953) and Harry Reginald Richard (1887-1927). William worked as an engine fitter, Sarah as a dressmaker and the family lived at 4 Cross Street (1881/1891) and 3 Caius Street (at least 1901 onwards).  By 1901 William was working as a railway carriage inspector for Great Eastern Railway.

In April 1898 he was part of the team who represented Cambridge in a district Ambulance competition for railway workers.  Four teams took place and ‘many interested spectators watched with  pleasure the competitions for supremacy in the work of rendering first aid to the wounded’. The teams competed in three separate rounds. In the first round they had to deal with imaginary wounds such as a fractured right knee cap, in the second round they had to rescue bodies from an imaginary burning building and perform resusuitation and the last round was a stretcher drill.  The Cambridge team were clear winners and progressed to the next stage held in  London.

Banquet menu 1901

He served as a Sergeant with the Cambridge section of the Volunteer Company of the Suffolk Regiment as part of the Imperial Yeomanry Field Hospital. He served in South Africa and as a result was given the honoury freedom of the town on 6  May 1901. Between sixty and seventy men were honoured and ‘by general consent the occasion was regarded as a public holiday and the town put on festive garb..streamers and festoons of bunting and flowers were suspended across the main throroughfares; Royal Standards were floating from the public buildings, flags were hung from house windows, children carried Union Jacks or wore khaki, and all the usual symbols of patriotic zeal were en evidence‘. The ceremony conferring the freedom of the town was held at the Guildhall, followed by a banquet at the Corn Exchange, which was  cooked at Trinity College Kitchens.

William died at home aged 51 years old and his funeral took place on 19 April 1906.

Sarah Wesley (née Woodcock) (10 February 1855 – 7 September 1949)

Sarah was born in Bethnal Green and baptised there on 22 July 1855.  She was the daughter of Thomas and Sarah, and grew up in Chelmsford where her father worked as a railway porter. In 1871 she was working as a kitchen maid for John Willis Clark at Scrope House, Scrope Terrace and married William Wesley in 1875. After his death she lived at Caius Street and took in lodgers (1911). In 1939 she was living at 102 Glisson Road and was documented as being incapacitated. She died at home aged 94 years old.

William and Sarah’s infant son George Reginald William Wesley is also buried at Mill Road Cemetery in the grave of his aunt and uncle – William and Annie Woodcock. He died aged 8 weeks old in August 1892.



Newspaper archives

Parish burial records transcribed by CFHS

by Claire Martinsen

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Sarah Wesley; William Wesley