|Trumpington Local History Group
Evidence for the History of
Trumpington: 19th-20th Century
|This a picture of the men of Trumpington, taken some time in the 1880s, from Percy Robinson's
slides. A fine body of men, but who were they, individually? I cannot answer that question, but
there are ways of finding out something of the lives of the ordinary people of the village.
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2017. Updated 22 February 2017.
At the meeting of the Local History
Group on 21 November 2013, Howard
Slatter discussed sources of information
about the history of Trumpington from
the 19th and 20th centuries.
See also other sources of evidence.
|Extract from Spalding's Directory,
1937. Cambridgeshire Collection.
|A group of nearly 100 men gathered in front of a thatched cottage, with the
Trumpington Brass Band in foreground. The photograph has been dated between
the 1860s and the 1880s (probably early 1880s). Percy Robinson collection.
|There is quite a variety of different sources for researching the people of Trumpington through
the 19th and first half of 20th century, including:
The Trumpington Parish Registers have been transcribed up to 1950 by Margaret Marrs and
others, and can be supplemented with other information about births, marriages and deaths from
online databases, and also by information recorded on memorial stones in the church and
To read local old newspapers, one previously had to visit the Cambridgeshire Collection and
scour the copies there. Now many of those are available online, with a sophisticated search
facility. Searching for Trumpington turns up many references to our village, plus a lot of
Trumpington Streets and Trumpington Road in Forest Gate, east London. An example illustrates
the kind of thing we can pick up. The 1841 census shows two ladies, Joanna and Sarah Crane,
running a “Ladies Seminary” in Trumpington, but it is impossible to work out where that was.
And here, in a cutting from the Cambridge Independent Press of 1843, is the answer. Two
houses for sale by auction at the Green Man. One, “a modern and substantially built brick and
slate dwelling house, desirably situate opposite the church, as now occupied by Miss Crane, as a
ladies’ seminary” and the adjoining house, both “situate in the most pleasant part of the village,
having good views in front and behind”. The rest of the description makes it clear that it is this
pair of houses being described.
|Extract from Cambridge Independent Press
The "modern and substantially built brick
and slate dwelling house" used as a seminary,
Grantchester Road. Photo: Howard Slatter,
|Although that cutting comes from a local paper, it is interesting that quite a lot of information
comes from much further away – for instance the only mention I have seen of a terrible storm in
1763 that killed the wife and daughter of Elias Bland was in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly
There are plenty of other references to census records, and here is just one example. When the
news of the recent street naming award appeared in the Cambridge News, we received an email
from someone who wanted to propose another name for future consideration. The name was Mr
Samuel Witt, who had never lived in the parish, but had leased a farm from the Pembertons
somewhere in Trumpington in the late 1800s. He and his siblings are commemorated in the
parish church, but not buried there. Our correspondent did not know which farm his distant
cousin had leased, only that it had been managed by a man called James Wright. The 1881
census shows James Wright, a Farm Bailiff, and his family living at Witt’s Farm, in London
Road, next door to the Tally Ho.
By comparing this with other census records from earlier and later, we could be quite certain that
the farm in question was actually what we think of as Manor Farm, now demolished and built
over by Beverley Way and the nearby houses.
|Information about the Wright family at Witt's Farm, 1881 census.
|Manor Farm, Trumpington, 1964. Photograph from Kathy Eastman,
Trumpington Past & Present, p. 34. Source: Stephen Brown.
|The latest census that is open to public inspection is that of 1911. After that we have to rely on
other sources to find out who lived where in Trumpington. Electoral registers are a good way of
finding out quite a lot, though they are very much the poor relations of the censuses, as they just
give names and addresses, and only names of those entitled to vote. In 1913, the earliest register
in the Cambridgeshire Collection after 1911 since the third Reform Act of 1884, the entitlement
was only men aged 21 and upwards who owned land valued at £10 or paid an annual rent of
£10. But this must have included nearly all the adult males in Trumpington.
|Extract from the Trumpington entries in the 1913 Electoral Register.
|Here we have a page from the 1969 register. By now, of course, all men and women aged 18
and over have the vote. By tracking families through, one can see children achieving their
majority and deduce something of the family structure.
|Then there are street directories. This is from the Post Office Directory of 1879, and lists some
of the residents, such as the farmers, innkeepers, shopkeepers and craftsmen, but none of the
labourers who formed the bulk of the village population. At this stage, Trumpington was just a
village in the countryside, and not worthy of a fuller entry.
|Extract from the Trumpington entries in the 1969 Electoral Register.
|Extract from Post Office Directory, 1879. Cambridgeshire Collection.
|In 1934, of course, Trumpington became fully part of Cambridge, and from then onwards was
included in the Cambridge directories published by Spalding’s and later Kelly’s. We can now see
a complete list of the heads of household, with in some cases their occupations. Here’s Hauxton
Road in 1937 – interestingly, we know from the electoral register that Frank Whittle, inventor of
the jet engine, lived at no. 12, Blackamoor, with his wife, but it is his landlady, Mrs Newbury,
who is listed here.
|Extract from Spalding's Directory, 1937. Cambridgeshire Collection.
|The Parish Magazines are another vital source of information. Arthur Brookes and Ken Fletcher
have both drawn on them extensively for information about the men of Trumpington who fought
in World War 1. And Shirley Brown has used a lot of the articles written there in compiling her
various books about the village. And then there are the advertisements. We can see here, in
1952, Harry Newell’s garage, Pitman’s stores in Shelford Road, Gilberts the butchers, Wedds
the builders, Fletcher’s Enterprise Garage, and Truelove’s shop in the old Harvey’s Stores in the
|Advertisements in Trumpington Parish Magazine, 1952.
|We have access to the archives of a few local clubs and societies. Here is the register of the
Trumpington Friendship Club for over 60s, for 1955 and 56. Names and addresses, all helping to
fill out the picture of village life. And the minute book and register of the Trumpington Allotment
|Register of Trumpington Friendship Club,
|Minute book and register of Trumpington Allotment Society, 1947.
|Bits and pieces can be found all over the place. On a trip to the National Archives at Kew I had a
look at various documents that came up on my computer when I searched for “Trumpington”
before going. Among them was a little booklet in the files of the Ordnance Survey, entitled
“Perambulation of the Boundaries between Trumpington and (the various surrounding
parishes)”, and dated 1884. This was so that the OS could be absolutely certain that the
boundaries on their maps would be in precisely the right place, and among the various sketch
maps and descriptions were these two pages.
|Ordnance Survey “Perambulation of the Boundaries ...”,
1884. The National Archives.
|The archival resources also included a signed statement about the boundary with St Mary the
Less, written by Thomas Wallis Bland, “Meresman” for Trumpington. Bland was the farmer at
River Farm, and also the innkeeper of the Green Man. A meresman is “a man who decides on
the exact boundaries of a parish, etc.” And on the right, incidentally, a similar statement about
the Grantchester boundary with Little St Marys, signed by their meresman Samuel Widnall, who
five years later wrote the little book Reminiscences of Trumpington Fifty Years Ago.
|Ordnance Survey information about the boundaries
of Trumpington and Grantchester, 1884. The