|Trumpington Local History Group
Working People in the High
|Copyright © Trumpington Local History Group, 2014. Updated 3 July 2014.
|Walter and Millie Stearn,
c. 1900. Photo: Josephine
|To put this into context, a little about the censuses that are available for research. The
Government has organised a census every 10 years since 1801, except for 1941. The first four
censuses have no personal details recorded; only the statistical information remains for the vast
majority of the country. The latest census details to be made available to the public are for
1911, which have been released in 2009. However, it is expensive to consult the 1911 census,
so the last one that I have looked at is the 1901. Each of the censuses from 1841 to 1901 is
now available on the internet, and that is where I have obtained the information for
Trumpington. Unfortunately, it is not possible to reproduce examples from the censuses in this
report, but I hope you will be able to appreciate the type of information they convey.
When you look at the early Trumpington returns, initially you are often left wondering which
bit of the village you are in, as road names are few and far between. Even if the road names are
there, then until 1901 there are no house numbers, so in a long road like London Road which
was what we now know as High Street was called, it is difficult to work out just where you
are. Even as late as 1939, the houses in the High Street were not numbered. You might expect
the census enumerator just to walk up one side of the road and then down the other, but in
many cases, once you work out who is where, it becomes obvious that he did it in small
sections, moving from one side of the road to the other, sometimes moving north to south and
sometimes the other way. That all gets jumbled up on the census returns.
If you are lucky, you can recognise where you are because of the people listed, such as the
Pemberton family. When it comes to London Road, High Street, Cambridge Road, the names
used for the main road through the village, it is a bit less obvious. Occasionally you get the
name of a pub, or that of a larger house, to help you locate the smaller houses. I am going to
focus on two groups of such houses, where ordinary people lived.
|Thatched cottages in the High Street, between
Wingate Way and Alpha Terrace. Photo:
Josephine Kitson. Reproduced in Trumpington
Past & Present, p. 66.
|Walter and Millie Stearn, c. 1900. Photo:
Josephine Kitson. Reproduced in Trumpington
Past & Present, p. 66.
|The 1901 census has a page about Cambridge
Road, including the names of three of the
bigger houses to help us (Cromwell House,
Goldeslie and Quy Villa). We can pinpoint
Cromwell House, and a bit of reading from
Trumpington Past and Present tells us that
Goldieslie was the former name of Gazeley
House, so we know exactly where we are.
But what about the other, unnamed, houses?
One entry details the members of the Stearn
family. We have James Stearn, age 30, born
in Trumpington, a teamster on a farm, that's a
man who worked with a team of horses. With
him are his wife Amelia, also aged 30, and
two children: Amelia, age 4, and Walter, 4
months, both born in Trumpington. They are
living on the east side of what we would now
call the High Street, south of Cromwell House.
In Trumpington Past and Present, there is a
photograph of Millie (Amelia) and Walter
Stearn outside their cottage, taken about 1900,
and another photograph of three pairs of
semi-detatched cottages. These were
demolished before I moved here in 1980, but
according to my neighbour were a very pretty
feature of the High Street. The northernmost
one is where the Stearns lived.
The other families listed with the Stearns must
have been in this same row of houses. Table 1
has the surnames of the families who lived in
these six cottages between 1851 and 1901,
including the Stearns. The ones in red are
those where the head of the household was
born in Trumpington - as you can see, a lot of
families were very faithful to the village. One
of the cottages was occupied by the Kefford
family for all these 50 years, indeed the 1939
Spaldings Street Directory shows that there
was still a Kefford living in the same house.
The table also shows the occupation of the
heads of household, which are predominantly
working class, with jobs connected with the
land. The table shows that those small
cottages contained a lot of people. Family
sizes grew and then reduced, of course, but in
1871 and 1881 the middle pair of little
cottages had 16 people living in it. Not what
we would expect today - if it was, we certainly
would not be looking at the need for the
modern expansion of Trumpington. So that's
one little set of ordinary families and a bit of
what we can discover about them and their
|Table 1. Family living in the former cottages on the east side of the
High Street. Source: Census returns (Howard Slatter).
|Mrs Matthews and her family, Elizabeth,
Agnes, Charles, Ellen, William, Bertie and
Sarah, c. 1900. Photograph: reproduced in
Trumpington in Old Picture Postcards, 63.
|Another family that we know a bit about were
living in a house on the west side of the road
in 1891 and 1901 (now numbered 42 High
Street). Mrs Matthews was a widow by 1901,
bringing up seven children on her own. The
terrace of houses (now numbered 42, 44 and
46 High Street) must have been built between
1861 and 1871, as you can track then back
through the censuses until there is no sign of
them in 1861.
Table 2 includes information for the three
houses, with number 42 at the top of the list.
Notice similar occupations here, except that in
1871, typically of much of Trumpington, all
three fathers were digging coprolites rather
than working in agriculture. Again, some big
families in small houses.
When looking at the census return for the
three houses in 1871, shortly after they were
built, I was surprised to find that I had two
personal connections with the families. Firstly,
11 year old John William Pamplin was the
original owner and builder of the house where
I now live (82 Shelford Road). Secondly, the
heads of the two Careless families, Richard
and William, were brothers. Their
grandfather, another William, moved to
Trumpington from Little Shelford in about
1790. He had many descendants, and among
them are Percy Reed (P.O. Reed) the
Cambridge hairdresser and former Mayor of
Cambridge, and also two of my grandchildren.
That gives a flavour of what you can discover
from the census. I've really only just scratched
the surface here, and there is the scope for
much more research into who lived where and
when in Trumpington. the High Street, south
of Cromwell House.
|Mrs Matthews outside her house in the High
Street (now 42 High Street). Photograph:
reproduced in Trumpington in Old Picture
|42, 44 and 46 High Street in 2009. Photo:
|Table 2. Families living in 42,
44 and 46 High Street. Source:
Census returns (Howard