The funeral of Prof Henry Fawcett at Trumpington, Cambridge, 1884.


One of the most influential men to live and work in Cambridge was the husband of Millicent Garrett Fawcett, Prof Henry Fawcett. Despite being blinded in a shooting accident, he rose to achieve more in life time than many of us might care to achieve in three. Member of Parliament, Cabinet Minister, University Professor amongst other things, Prof Fawcett missed out on being elected to the Cambridge Borough seat in 1863, but was finally elected first to Brighton and then Hackney (see his wikipage here).

As minister he served Prime Minister Gladstone as Postmaster General 1880-1884 (until his death). The number of representations from the postal industry across the country reflects the stature he was held in by postal workers – who named their newly-formed trade union after him until its post-WWI merger in 1919.

He was still in his early 50s when he died. I wonder what his impact would have been on the Liberal governments of the early 1900s/pre-WWI had he still been alive and active some twenty years later.

The digitised article of Prof Fawcett’s funeral is from the British Newspaper Archive here (£Requires) which I have transcribed below.

841115 Prof Henry Fawcett Funeral Transcript CIP


“The interment on Monday, in the little churchyard at Trumpington, of the mortal remains of the Right Honourable Henry Fawcett, M.P., the late Postmaster-General, was an event which will ever remain green in the memories of all who witnessed it.

“A national funeral — a resting place in Westminster Abbey — “the mausoleum,” as an able writer of this century has described it, of England’s greatness-” — is perhaps the highest tribute of respect which this country can pay to one of her illustrious dead ; but universal sorrow does not necessarily find expression in the pomp and magnificence of obsequies. This fact was clearly demonstrated on Monday last.

“Arrangements more simple than those made for the burial of the lamented professor it would be impossible to conceive, and yet the thousands of mourners, representing all classes of society, who followed his remains to the grave, showed how widespread was the grief which his untimely death bad occasioned.

“Everywhere in the town were evidences of the respect in which the departed statesman had been held by those amongst whom he chiefly dwelt. On the public buildings flags were suspended half-mast high; in many cases business was totally suspended; in others, shops were partially closed; and there were few private houses where the blinds were not drawn.

“At the morning service in Trinity Hall, of which Professor Fawcett was a Fellow, special prayers were read by the Rev. Henry Latham (vice-master). The funeral procession was announced to leave Brookside at half-past eleven o’clock ; but long before that hour, the retired spot where the late Professor resided was thronged with a vast gathering of people, many of whom had come from a great distance.

“A special train from London arrived at 11.30. and this had brought amongst others.

  • Mr. Childers, Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • the Home Secretary, Sir William Harcourt (who is Professor of International Law in the University)
  • Sir C. Dilke, President of the Local Government Board
  • Mr. Shaw-Lefevre, M.P., Chief Commissioner of Works
  • the Vice-President of the Committee of Council on Education, accompanied by Miss Mundella
  • the Earl of Camperdown,
  • the Earl of Dalhousie,
  • Mr. Herbert Gladstone, M.P.
  • Mr. John Holms, M.P.
  • Mr. Osborne Morgan, M.P.
  • Mr. Leonard Courtney, M.P., and Mrs. Courtney
  • the two borough members, Mr. W. Fowler and Mr. H. Shield. Q.C.
  • Mr. Arthur Cohen, Counsel to the University
  • Mr. Plunket, M.P., representing the University of Dublin
  • Mr. J. A. Campbell, M.P., representing the University of Glasgow, from which body Professor Jack. LL.D., was deputed to attend to pay this mark of respect to their late Lord Rector
  • Sir Thomas Brassey, M.P.
  • Sir Wilfrid Lawson, M.P.
  • Mr. John Morley, M.P.
  • Mr. R. Cross, M.P.
  • Mr. Cotes, M.P.
  • Mr. J. C. Stevenson, M.P.
  • Mr. Rathbone. M.P.
  • Sir T. Fowell Buxton
  • Mr. F. W. Buxton, M.P.
  • Mr. S. Buxton, M P.
  • Mr. C. S. Parker, M.P.
  • Mr. Arnold Morley, M.P.
  • Mr. J. R. Hollond. M.P.
  • Mr. Mac Iver, M.P.
  • Mr. Passmore Edwards, M.P.
  • Mr. H. Samuelson, M.P.
  • Mr. A. C. Sellar, M.P.
  • Mr. Rendel, M.P.
  • Mr. Barran, M.P.
  • Mr. T. A. Dickson, M.P.
  • Mr. Eustace Smith, M.P.
  • Mr. Illingworth, M.P.
  • Mr. Hopwood, M P.
  • Mr. Woodall, M.P.
  • Lady Harberton
  • Mrs. Ashton Dilke
  • Mrs. Charles M’Laren
  • Miss Becker, and Miss Muller, as a deputation from those interested in the question of women’s suffrage
  • Dr, F J. Campbell, principal of the Royal Normal College and Academy of Music for the Blind at Norwood, and Mrs. Campbell
  • Mr. Thomasson, M.P.
  • Mr. James Howard, M.P.
  • Mr. Lalmohum Ghose and a deputation of Indian gentlemen resident in this country
  • Mr. Oscar Browning
  • Mr. Vernon Lushington
  • Mr. Chesson
  • Mr. Mark H. Judge
  • Sir Charles Sikes (of Huddersfield), and
  • Mr. G. C. T. Bartley

“It was not until the expiration of some five-and-twenty or thirty minutes after the hour appointed for starting that the funeral cortege commenced to move towards Trumpington.

“The morning, which had dawned cold and grey, had by this time become exceedingly pleasant. Old Sol shone forth in all his splendour, and tempered the raw November atmosphere with his congenial warmth.

“The body, which was enclosed in brass-mounted coffin of unpolished oak, surmounted by a breastplate bearing the simple inscription:

Henry Fawcett. August 26, 1833. November 6. 1884,

“…was placed on an open bier, drawn by a pair of bays.

“The coffin was entirely hidden from view by the mass of wreaths and crosses by which it was covered, and so numerous were these floral tokens of affection that it was found necessary to appropriate a carriage for the conveyance to the burial ground of those which it was impossible to heap upon the bier.

“Amongst others, wreaths were sent by:

  • The Queen,
  • The Empress Eugenie, [of France, widow of Napoleon III of France, deposed following the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, and who lived in exile in the UK under the protection of her close friend Queen Victoria]
  • Indians resident England,
  • Sir W. Harcourt,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Mundella,
  • Professor and Mrs. Babington,
  • Mr. and Mrs. J. F. Moulfon,
  • Lady Brassey,
  • Mr. J. J. Colman, M.P., and Mrs. Colman,
  • Mr. J. Holms. M.P., and Mrs. Holms,
  • Dr. and Mrs. Alfred Lush,
  • Mr. E. H. Carhutt. M.P.. and Mrs. Carbutt,
  • Mrs. Duncan M‘Laren,
  • Mr. Sheriff,
  • Mr. and Mrs. Eustace Smith,
  • Miss Annie Leigh Smith,
  • The undergraduates of Trinity Hall,
  • The students of Girton College for Ladies,
  • The Borough of Hackney Liberal Association,
  • The Post Office Savings Banks, [Prof Fawcett was a highly regarded former Postmaster General – then a very senior post in government]
    • from the Sorting Office, Dublin (a very magnificent wreath in the form of an Irish harp),
    • The female clerks in the post-offices East Central district,
    • The country official E.C district,
    • The female staff S.W. district,
    • The West Strand telegraph staff,
    • The Borough High Street District Office;
    • The employees of the foreign branch, G.P.O.;
    • The officers of the minor branch ;
    • The registered letter branch, G.P.O.;
    • The female clerks returned letter office, G.P.O. ;
    • The female clerks of the postal order branch ;
    • The female staff accountants office, G P. O.;
    • The officers of the E.C. district,
    • The Leeds G.P.O.,
    • The Manchester G.P.O ;
    • From the women of the Manchester telegraph offices, as a respectful expression of deep sympathy with Mrs. Fawcett and as a grateful token to the memory of one of the truest friends of the women of England ;
    • The Manchester male telegraph clerks,
    • The telegraph staff of the House of Commons,
    • The postal telegraph staff, Plymouth ;
    • The letter carriers, Edinburgh and Leith;
    • The telegraph clerks, Peckham-Rye;
    • The Lower Division Clerks Money Order Office;
    • The postal and telegraph officers, Glasgow;
    • The postal and telegraph officers, Cambridge:
    • The postal and telegraph officers, Macclesfield;
    • The female clerks, Newcastle-on- Tyne ;
    • The postmaster and staff, Blackburn ;
    • The postmaster and staff, Perth;
    • The officers of the N. district;
    • The female clerks, Notting-hill (High Street) ;
    • The Women’s Suffrage Committee, Edinburgh ;
    • The Glasgow postal and telegraph staff ;
    • The boy messengers, Secretary’s office, G.P.O.;
    • The London School of Medicine for Women,
    • The pupils of the Normal College for the Blind ;
    • From Miss Florence Nightingale, [yes – *that* Florence Nightingale]
    • The Secretary of the General Post Office,
    • The Assistant-Secretary of the General Post Office,
    • The staff of the Secretary’s office,
    • The female staff of the Savings Bank,
    • The staff of the Central Telegraph Office,
    • The male and female staff of the Clearing House,
    • Mr. Cardew (the assistant receiver and accountant-general),
    • Mr. Hunter (solicitor to the Post Office) and…
  • Mrs. Hunter,
  • The students of Newnham College, Cambridge.

“The procession was not completely formed until after the coffin had emerged from Brookside into the main road. By the side of the bier, which was without funeral trappings of any kind, walked the bearers—six of the servants at Trinity College and six letter-carriers connected with the Cambridge Post-office.

“Immediately following were the family mourners, except Mrs. Fawcett, the widow of the deceased professor, who, with her daughter, proceeded to the church by another route, and arrived some time before the remains.

“The relatives and nearer friends who were in the procession included

  • Mr. and Mrs. Newson-Garrett, Mr. Tom Fawcett.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Cowell,
  • Mr. Edward Garrett,
  • Mr. and Miss Anderson,
  • Mr. Hugh Garrett,
  • Mr. Littlewood Garrett,
  • Major and Mrs. Garrett,
  • Mr. S. Garrett,
  • Mr. George Garrett.
  • Miss Ethel Garrett,
  • Mr. Jas. Garrett,
  • Mr. and Mrs. A. Salmon, and
  • Miss Wilkinson.

“Then followed most of the undergraduates attached to Trinity Hall, and the other members of this college who took part in the procession included:

  • The Master, Sir Henry Sumner Maine, K.C.S.I.;
  • The Vice-Master;
  • Rev. F. L. Hopkins,
  • Mr. Walton,
  • Mr. E. A. Beck, tutors ;
  • Mr. K. L. Henn,
  • Mr. J. W. Clark,
  • Mr. J. M. Lightwood, and
  • Mr. W. G. Bell,

“among the Fellows;

  • The bursar, Mr. A. W. W. Dale ; and
  • The ex-Fellows, Mr. H. D. Warr and Mr. Leslie Stephen, one of Professor Fawcett’s oldest friends.

“The heads of most of the colleges also took part in the procession, and while, in a gathering so large, it was impossible to see all who were present, seats were kept in the church, amongst others, for:

  • Dr. Ferrers (Vice-Chancellor of the University and Master of Caius),
  • Dr. Porter (Master of Peterhouse),
  • Dr. Phillips (President of Queens’),
  • The Masters of St. Catherine’s, Christ’s, and Magdalene Colleges,
  • The Rev. Dr. Phear (Master of Emmanuel).

“In the cortege, Girton and Newnham were represented, and amongst other members of the University who walked were Professor Westcott, Professor Cayley. Professor Stokes, Prof. Sidgwick, Professor Seeley, Professor Adams, Prof. Stuart (the accepted Liberal candidate for the representation of Hackney, in succession to Professor Fawcett), the Rev. Dr. Lumby, the Rev. Dr. Hort, Professor Skeat, Professor Foster, and, indeed, nearly all the professional staff.

“Next in succession came deputation representing the several departments of the General Post Office, composed as follows:

  • Mr  Stevenson Blackwood, secretary
  • Mr. Algernon Turner, financial secretary
  • Mr. Patey, third secretary
  • Mr. Joyce, assistant-secretary
  • Mr. Rea. assistant-secretary
  • Mr. Jeffery, controller, London Postal Service
  • Mr. Graves, engineer-in-chief. Telegraph Department
  • Mr. Preece, assistant engineer-in-chief and electrician
  • Mr. Cardan, assistant receiver and accountant-general
  • Mr. Compton, controller, Savings Bank Department
  • Mr. Fischer, controller, Central Telegraph Office
  • Mr. Sleet, chief medical officer
  • Miss Shove, female medical officer
  • Mr. Lawrence, principal clerk, secretary’s office
  • Mr. Mulock, director, Confidential Inquiry Branch
  • Mr. Dryhurst, Mr. Langton, and Mr. Goulding. private secretaries to Postmaster- General
  • Mr. Tombs, assistant-controller, London Postal Service
  • Mr. Johnston, Postmaster, North-West District;
  • Mr. C. Rea, surveyor, Eastern District
  • Mr, Perring, surveyor
  • South-Western District; Mr. Watliker, postmaster, Birmingham
  • Mr. Turner, postmaster, Cambridge; and Mr. Jenkins, superintending engineer, Eastern District.

“Inspector Denning, with a few of the police regularly on duty the House of Commons, also came by the train. Following; were about two hundred members of the Cambridge Liberal Association, the members present including:

  • Mr. Wm. Bond (president).
  • Dr. Robertson,
  • Mr. H. T. Hall,
  • Mr. M. I. Whibley (vice-presidents),
  • Mr. J. Monel (secretary),
  • Messrs. Bullock, Brambley. W. Collin, A. J. Tillyard, [Later the editor of the Cambridge Independent Press] J. Sturton [developer of large parts of Petersfield and Romsey Town, Cambridge] and H. G. Whibley [Later the leader of the Liberal Group on Cambridge Borough Council] (committee)
  • Revs. R. R. Blinkhorn, W. S. Houghton, T. G. Tarn, W. A. Guttridge, and J. Jull;
  • Messrs. J. Palmer. J. Burford, R, A. Benton, E. Copping. E. Bennett, F. Scruby, F. Thoday, H. S. Thoday, G. Cole, H. Johnson. C. Fulcher. J. Logan, W. French. S. R. Ginn, S. Ginn. B. Liles, W. Nixon, W. Lockhart, F. Pleasance, W. Beattie, E. Broom, F. Burwick. R. A. Benton, J. Bowes, E. Bright, W. T. Clayton, O. Dewberry, J. Ellison. W. Edwards. J. Goldsmith. 8. M. Holden, T. W. Jagg, J. Lintott, A. Macintosh, J. Mountain, 8. Mansfield, J. 8. Newman, C. E. Porter, C. Cave, H. Palmer, W.T. Palmer, W. Smith, A. H. Sadd. F. W. Thompson, J. Tyler, W. H. Williams. S. J. Wilson, G. Williams, F. Ward, P. H. Young, P. Wright, W T. Claydon, and J. S. Holden. &c.

“Then came Professor Paget and Professor Latham (two of the deceased Minister’s medical attendants), and further behind were members of the Hackney Liberal Club, with their Chairman (Mr. Michael Young), representatives of the Hackney Vestry, and some thirty members of the Cambridge Working Men’s Liberal Club, headed by tho President (Mr, J. D. Digby), the Junior Vice- President (Mr. T.Blewett). and the Secretary (Mr. H. Yockney).

“Amongst others the numerous train (which must have numbered close on 12,000 persons) were five or six letter carriers from the S.W district, who wore their uniform, and each carried a wreath.

“Long before the procession reached the church the sacred edifice was more than half filled. The coffin was met at the gate the Vicar (the Rev. E. B. Birks, M.A) and the Rev. J. C. Egerton, vicar of Burwash.

“While the remains of the departed statesman were being carried into the church, followed by the family mourners, Dr. Stanford, organist of trinity (who took the place of Mr. James for the occasion), played the final chorus of Bach’s “Passion.”

“When the solemn, plaintive strains of the music had become hushed, the Burial Service was proceeded with. A part was read by the Vicar, and the responses were taken by the Rev. J. C. Egerton.

“By the time the coffin had reached the grave, which was beautifully decked with chrysanthemums and roses, the churchyard was completely filled, and the remainder of the rites were impressively performed by the Rev. J. C. Egerton amid the almost breathless silence of the great concourse of spectators.

“After the body had been lowered into the grave — a perfectly plain one, ten feet deep—Dr. Stanford performed on the organ the concluding chorus of Handel’s “Sampson,” and. almost before the chief mourners had passed from the sorrowful scene, an eager rush was made by the crowd to gain a final gaze into the open tomb. Many hovered long about the grave, and many left its side with hearts laden with sorrow too deep for time ever to efface.

“Thus simply and affectionately was Henry Fawcett laid at rest amid surroundings with which in life he was so familiar and which he loved well.”

The police arrangements were under the superintendence of Mr. Stretten.


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