Trumpington Village Sign unveiled June 2010, designed by Sheila Betts.
Trumpington Local History Group
The Funeral of Henry Fawcett,

10 November 1884
Funeral of the Late Professor Fawcett

The funeral of the late Postmaster General took place on Monday, and it will indeed be a long
time before Cambridge witnesses such an exhibition of public regret and respect as was shown
for the deceased gentleman. Probably no man elicited such a wide and genuine respect as the late
Postmaster General. His manly independence of thought and action, and the rest with which he
ever united himself with all that was likely to prove to the good of his country, won for him a
wide-spread and genuine feeling of regret throughout the length and breadth of the country, and
this was amply shown on Monday by the crowds which assembled on the Trumpington-road,
out of respect to the memory of the man who had so won the people’s regard. The family of the
deceased gentleman have been almost overwhelmed by the hundreds of letters of condolence
and floral tributes of respect for the deceased gentleman. Hundreds of letters and telegrams of
sympathy and condolence have been received from all parts of the country, and from
numberless Societies and Associations, besides a constant succession of beautiful floral emblems.
It is impossible to attempt to compile any list of those from whom wreaths, etc., have been
received, so great was the number, but we may mention the following who have sent wreaths:….
[long list of individuals, groups of employees of the General Post Office, London School of
Medicine for Women, pupils of the Normal College for the Blind, Miss Florence Nightingale, the
Women’s Suffrage Committee, Edinburgh, students of Newnham College, etc.].

A great many also came too late to be assigned a place on the coffin, and persons could be seen
carrying boxes containing floral emblems of respect to be laid upon the grave. They were mostly
composed of lilies, camellias, azaleas, white chrysanthemums and violets, interwoven with
maiden hair and other ferns. As before stated, an immense number of resolutions and letters of
sympathy in their sad bereavement have been received by the family of the deceased gentleman,
including messages from the Queen, the Prince and Princess of Wales, and great numbers of
private friends from London, Salisbury, Aldeburgh, and elsewhere, sent their floral tributes of
affection and esteem with which the deceased gentleman was held…[long list of clubs and
societies named].

All through Sunday there was a constant succession of callers at the house in Brookside at which
Mr Fawcett died, bringing other messages of condolence with the family or carrying fresh tokens
of regard in the form of wreaths, etc. In the morning the members and servants of Trinity Hall
were allowed to view the coffin containing the body of the deceased in his study. The walls of
the room were covered with books and over the mantel shelf was a drawing of Mr Fawcett
himself. The coffin was unpolished oak, with brass handles, and on the small brass plate was the
following inscription: “Henry Fawcett, August 26, 1833, November 6, 1884”. The numberless
wreaths which had been received were arranged about the room, on the couches, chairs, and
even on the floor, and the coffin itself was almost entirely hidden under a mass of flowers.

The majority of the members of the University were in deep mourning, and at the close of the
University service in St Mary’s Church in the afternoon the ‘Dead March in Saul’ was played on
the organ by Dr. Garrett. ………[details given of the sermon]………….

Although the funeral was nominally to be a private one, it was rightly conjectured that it would
be the occasion of a great public manifestation of the respect and regard in which the deceased
gentleman was held by all classes throughout the country. No invitations were issued beyond the
general intimation that all who desired to offer their last outward mark of esteem for the
deceased were welcome, it being the express wish of Mrs Fawcett that there should be no
distinction of classes in the common mourning, and that the working man should occupy the
same level as his brethren in a higher sphere of life. The morning on Monday opened dull and
foggy but gradually developed into a beautifully fine day, the sun shining brightly during the
whole of the ceremony. Most of the leading tradesmen in the town put up their shutters, and
flags were flying at half-mast on the Guildhall and on several other public buildings. A special
service was held in the chapel of Trinity Hall, which was draped in mourning. The collect and
lessons of the Burial Service were introduced by the Rev. Henry Latham, the vice-master.
Immediately afterwards the whole of the members of the society, in full academical costume,
assembled, and, headed by the Master, Sir Henry Maine, proceeded en masse to attend the
funeral of the deceased, who was for so long a Fellow of this college. Although the University
was not officially represented at the funeral, the meeting of the Council of the Senate which was
opened in the morning was immediately adjourned, in order to allow the members to attend the
funeral. It was generally understood that the Town Council would also have adjourned after
electing the Mayor for the ensuing year, but as the Council did not meet till twelve o’clock, by
which time the funeral cortege was en route to the cemetery, the whole of the business was
proceeded with. A special train started from St. Pancras at 9.30 a.m. conveying…[many named
dignitaries and Members of Parliament]. The train was stopped at the Hackney Downs and
picked up the deputation from the Hackney Liberal and Radical Associations, and the Hackney
Vestry deputation. Most of the members of Parliament went direct from the station to the
church. …. [more dignitaries named].

As early as half-past ten people began to congregate along Brookside, and long before the
appointed time for the procession to start, the road from the deceased’s house right up to the
Churchyard at Trumpington was lined by thousands of people. We understand that the deceased
was interred at Trumpington in accordance with a clause in his will specifying that if he died in
London he should be interred at Salisbury, and if at Cambridge, he should be buried at
Trumpington. Nearly all the houses on the road had their blinds drawn down and the most
perfect order and decorum prevailed amongst the mass of people waiting to witness the funeral
procession. Punctually at half passed eleven the coffin was borne from the house by the back
entrance and placed on an open bier, where it was entirely covered with floral offerings of the
most beautiful description. It was found impossible to carry all the wreaths on the bier, and
consequently an open carriage behind the car was filled with the remainder. The procession was
shortly afterwards formed in front of the house, and the car, drawn by two horses, moved off,
proceeding along Brookside, over the Bateman-street Bridge, and thence along Trumpington-
road. On either side of the funeral bier walked six selected postmen from the Post-office, and six
servants from Trinity Hall. This was followed by the carriage containing the remainder of the
wreaths. Four carriages followed containing the mourners. In the first carriage were Mr W.
Fawcett, Mr F. Fawcett, Mr N. Garrett and Mrs N. Garrett; in the second were Mr and Mrs
Anderson, and Miss Wilkinson; in the third were Mr Geo. Garrett, Mr Gibbs, and Mr Wheaton;
and in the fourth were Mr and Mrs Salmon, of Bury, together with the private secretary of the
deceased, Mr Dryhurst. Then followed the Trinity Hall deputation, after which came the
deputations from the Hackney Liberal Association, the Hackney Vestry, the Cambridge Working
Men’s Liberal Association, the various departments of the General Post Office, and the large
number of members of the University and local clergy. The rear of the procession was brought
up by thirteen private carriages and cabs, containing amongst others, Professor Paget, Professor
McKenny Hughes, Mr J. Death, Dr Campion, and Professor Latham. The greater part of the
University officials, however, drove straight to the church, and amongst those present when the
procession arrived, were the Vice-Chancellor, …[named Masters of colleges, professors, etc.…]
and Mr W. Woodall, M.P., representing the Women’s Suffrage movement.

The procession reached the Churchyard at about twelve o’clock. Here there was a very large
crowd of people endeavouring to gain admittance to the church. Admittance was, however,
denied to all but those recognised by the police, and consequently there was a considerable
crush, and it was with great difficulty that a passage could be made for the mourners, and the
meagre force of police present seemed almost unable to cope with the crowd of people. The
coffin was received at the gate by the Vicar, Rev. E.B. Birks, and the Rev. J.C. Egerton, Rector
of Burwash, Suffolk, a personal friend of the deceased. The former gentleman recited the
opening sentences of the burial service as the coffin was conveyed into the sacred edifice, where
Mrs and Miss Fawcett, together with Miss Agnes Garrett, were in waiting, having journeyed to
the church before the procession left Brookside. The small church, which is not capable of
accommodating more than 400 people, was speedily filled, the family and relatives of the
deceased sat on either side, while the front seats in the nave and aisle were occupied by
members of Parliament and the chief University officials. The service in the church was
conducted by the Vicar, and was very plain, there being no singing. At its conclusion, Dr Villiers
Stanford, organist of Trinity College, played the ‘Dead March in Saul’ on the organ, and the
coffin was then conveyed to the grave, proceeded by the officiating clergy. The grave is situated
in a very secluded nook, north-east of the church, about six feet from the chancel wall, and close
to that of Prof. Grote. The earth surrounding the grave had been beautifully bordered with roses
and white chrysanthemums by Mrs E.B. Foster, and all around on the bushes and on the ground
were placed the wreaths, prominent amongst those the beautiful harp shaped wreath from the
Dublin Post Office. Amidst a subdued and impressive stillness, the Rev. J.C. Egerton read the
conclusion of the service. After which Mrs Fawcett, and her daughter, who were supported by
Mr Garrett and Mr Anderson, then left the grave, and the crowd immediately pressed forward to
take a last look at the coffin, which, however, was entirely hidden from view beneath a wealth of
flowers cast upon it.

During the time the service was being performed a most disgraceful scene took place outside. As
before stated, there was a great crush at the gate of the churchyard. Someone then imprudently
opened the Vicarage gate, adjoining the churchyard. The crowd immediately took advantage of
the opportunity this afforded for gaining admittance to the churchyard and rushed pell-mell up
the drive to a small gate which communicated with the churchyard. A large number of people
rushed through before the police could close the gate. The crowd after many attempts to break
down the gate, during which one of the coping stones of the gate supports was displaced, rushed
over the wall, making great havoc amongst the shrubs at the side of the wall. The kitchen garden
was also invaded, and produce trampled underfoot. The same proceedings took place in the
churchyard. Some of the graves were trampled out of shape, tomb-stones were overturned and
broken, and shrubs destroyed. The small force of police present were utterly unable to stem this
tide of people, and it was with great difficulty that a passage could be made to the vicarage gate
for the mourners.

Source: Cambridge Chronicle and University Journal, 14 November 1884, page 8, available
online in the
British Newspaper Archive (BL_0000421_18841114_115_0008).
Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2018. Updated 21 May 2018.
Start of the report in the Cambridge Chronicle and University
, 14 November 1884, page 8.
A full report of the funeral of Henry Fawcett at Trumpington Church on
Monday 10 November 1884 was published in the
Cambridge Chronicle
and University Journal
, 14 November 1884, page 8 (column 3-4).
Transcript by Wendy Roberts.

See also pages about Henry Fawcett, notes about Henry Fawcett, and
Millicent Garrett Fawcett and Women's Suffrage.