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Mendicity House c 1962. The large windows above the shops are those of the former dormitories for vagrants.(MoC131/62)

152 (66) Old Manor House, Mendicity House, 154 (67), 156 (68) Newmarket Road

History of 152-156 Newmarket Road

Royal Commission Survey of Cambridge 1959: House, now three tenements … built early in the 18th century on a comparatively ambitious scale, consisting of a rectangular block to the road. 

The following notes are taken from this report:

After the Napoleonic Wars vagrancy escalated. There was a particular problem in Cambridge as beggars stole from students. The Society for the Suppression of Mendicity or Anti-Mendicity Society was founded in 1819, seeking to repress begging by arrest and conviction. However, by 1838 the activities of this society had lapsed and a new society under the same name aimed to assist artisans or labourers journeying in search of work by supplying them with a meal and shelter for the night.

To this end in February 1848 the committee rented a portion of the Old Manor House in Barnwell, owned by a Cambridge broker called Thomas Parker. It was known as ‘Mendicity House’ and was run by a resident Constable and Matron. From 1848-54 Mendicity House received more than 12,000 travellers, an average of 40 per week.

See Enid Porter’s Vagrants

1851 Mendicity House

Robert Scholes, 59, master of Mendicity House, b Lincs

Sarah Hill, 40, matron of Mendicity House, b Lincs

George Henry, lodger, 40, labourer, b Ireland

Ellen Henry, lodger, 33, b Ireland

Mary Henry, lodger, 3, b Ireland

Thomas Jackson, lodger, labourer, 46, b Ireland

Johanna Jackson, lodger, 36, b Ireland

John Jackson, 4, lodger, b Ireland

William Robinson, lodger, 41, labourer, b Wales

Eliza Robinson, lodger, 27, b Wales

Catharine Jackson, lodger, 25, b Ireland

Mary Jackson, lodger, 2, b Ireland

Mary Coburn, lodger, 20, b Ireland

George Grace, lodger, 26, labourer, b Stanford

Thomas Turner, lodger, 25, labourer, b London

Thomas Jones, lodger, 20, labourer, b Lincs

George Green, lodger, 35, labourer, b Herts

David Gilroy, lodger, 22, sailor, b Scotland

Charles Miller, lodger, 23, stone mason,  b Suffolk

William Forde, lodger, 24, stone mason, b Hampton

William Jones, lodger, 24, labourer, b Ireland

John Hinde, lodger, 21, labourer, b Ireland

John Lewellen, lodger, 27, carpenter, b Pembroke

George Cook, lodger, 48, b Thurdon

James Gordon, lodger, 57, b Bagbrook

Richard Cooper, lodger, 39, b Yorks

1855 agreement set up in which Reverend Sparkes Bellett Seaby rented the yard behind mendicity House for the use of a school or Sunday school.


(66) Mendicity House

Thomas Ralling, 44, general commission agent, b Essex

Mary Ann, 50, b London

Ann, mother, widow, 78, b Essex

Charles Haonach [?], lodger, 28, a smith, b Suffolk

William Belby, lodger, 28, labourer, b Essex

Joseph Gaven, lodger, 39, a smith, b Norfolk

Charles Flack, lodger, 25, a seaman, b Norfolk

Charles Lee, lodger, 28, labourer, b Bath

Thomas Walker, lodger, 25, labourer, b Norfolk

John Brown, lodger, 26, labourer, b Norfolk

(67) Fred Swannell Toller, 47, merchant corn and flour

(68) Ann Marten, 46, shopkeeper


(66) vacant

(67) Betsy Toller, 40, corn dealer

(68) Isaac Thretipung [?] Cash, 26, shoe maker

1873 a map of this date recording land owned by Parker sold. Octavius Parker, grandson of Thomas, had died with considerable debts.

1878 Mendicity House and nearby poor cottages were sold to a company formed by locals called the Cambridge Improved Industrial Dwellings Company. Their aim was to replace the appalling and unsanitary housing currently available in Barnwell. Meanwhile the Anti-Mendicity Society was dissolved and reformed as the Cambridge Charity Organization (Anti-Mendicity Society) in 1879.

Within a year 15 dilapidated cottages had been demolished, 25 had been repaired and 25 were in the course of erection. New houses were built on the corner of East Road and Crispin Street; behind Mendicity House 11 cottages were built on a new road, Leeke Street.


(66) Isaac Cash, 39, boot and shoe maker

(67) Richard Miller, 51, college servant

(68) George Worsley, 26, cab driver

In April 1883 Josiah Chater records that he had been asked to take on the secretaryship of the Cambridge Improved Industrial Dwellings Co.


(66) Ebenezer Rouse, draper

(67) John Waller, retired farmer

(68) William H Moore, travelling cutler


(66 & 67) Ebenezer Rouse, draper shopkeeper

(68) [but erroneously recorded as 65]

William F Ward, lodging house keeper


(152 – 4) Ebenezer Rouse, draper and milliner

(156) Joseph Speechley, butcher


(152) Geoffrey Harris, butcher

(154) Harry H Sargent, tobacconist

(156) T Thurston, greengrocer


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