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Fanny Cornell by Mary Greene from Harston History web site

Button End, Harston

History of Button End, Harston

Exact location unknown

1851 census: Button End, Harston

Thomas Cornell, 50, farmer’s labourer, b Harston

Ann, 49, b Harston

James, 20, farmer’s labourer, b Harston

William, 18, farmer’s labourer, b Harston

Thomas, 16, farmer’s labourer, b Harston

Jane, 14, b Harston


David Cornell, 43, farmer’s labourer, b Harston

Fanny, 42, b Hampshire Shoters Hill

Nash, 16, b Harston

Charles, 12, b Harston

David Cornell and family were living in Church Street, Harston in 1841

1861 census: Button End

Thomas Cornell, head, 60,

Anne, 60,


David Cornell, 52, ag lab., b Harston

Francis, 52, b Sawston

Charles, 15, lab., b Harston

Jane, 9, b Harston

1868 Cambridge Chronicle 26.12.1868: Pocket Picking – Edward Swan of Whitechapel was charged with stealing three sovereigns the property of Frances Cornell, carrier, of Harston. The case had been remanded from Monday. Mr Adcock appeared for the prosecution. From the evidence of prosecutrix it appeared that on Saturday she was at the Bushel and Strike public house and about a quarter past five in the evening the prisoner came by pretending to buy fowls, and stood close to her pocket, in which was three sovereigns in gold and some silver. the money was in a wash leather purse and when prisoner left she missed the money. She heard some money drop abs prisoner walked and PC Howlett picked up a sovereign. Tom Dakin, printer’s apprentice, said he was passing by the public house in question and heard some money drop. A man, whom he believed to be prisoner, said, ‘that’s mine; I have a hole in my waistcoat pocket.’ he gave the man the money and walked away. A boy named Clarke who was with this witness, picked up sixpence and gave it to the same man. Weston William Brooke a printer’s apprentice corroborated the statement of the last witness. William Weston, George and Dragon, new market Road, aid prisoner lodged at his house on Saturday night. he gave witness a sovereign and seven shillings to take care of when he went to bed and witness returned the money to him on the following morning. Detectives Danby and Kirbyshire apprehended the prisoner at Weston’s public house on Sunday evening. They told him they should search him. Prisoner took something out of his left-hand trouser’s pocket and swallowed it. They found 3s 6d upon him, a box of paper collars, and a ‘flash’ £5 note. They took him into custody on a charge of pocket picking. prisoner made no answer. Committed for trial at the Sessions.

1871 census: Button End

Thomas Cowell [Cornell], 71, b Harston

Ann, 71,


David Cowell [Cornell], 61, lab., b Harston

Frances, 62, b Harston

Charles Thompson, lodger, 24, lab., b Harston

Jane [?], wife, 20, b Harston


Cambridge Independent Press 25/10/1873: Trumpington – Hough Lamb and Richard Parsons, of Birmingham, shoeblacks, were charged with stealing a basket containing eggs, value 3s, at Trumpington, the property of Frances Cornell carrier of Harston on 15th of October. Prosecutrix missed the basket of eggs from the back of the cart where they had been placed for the purpose of conveying them to Cambridge. A lad who was working in a field on the road leading to Harston saw lamb, with another lad, take the basket from the back of the cart, when the prisoner parsons, who had been sitting on the side of the road, followed the others and they all came back sucking eggs.The basket was afterwards found in a ditch close by. The prisoners were apprehended at Royston by PC Wilderspin and Purkiss. Remanded for a week.

Cambridge Independent Press 1/11/1873: Trumpington – Hugh Lamb and Richard Parsons, shoeblacks, were brought up on remand charged with stealing a basket of eggs from the cart of Mrs Frances Cornell of Harston at Trumpington on October 15th. …. They denied having any connection with the stealing of the eggs but pleaded guilty. Lamb was committed for three months, and Parson for six weeks with hard labour.

1881 census:

David Cornell, widower, 70, annuitant, b Harston

A chance visit to the Museum of Cambridge in 2023 by three people with family connections to the Cornells, in particular Frances (Fanny), triggered this research. In particular, as to whether the Museum held the original of the picture by Mary Greene of Fanny Cornell.

This was not an unreasonable assumption as the Museum of Cambridge holds several works by Mary Greene. A search of the records drew a blank however.

The only on-line source of information about Fanny Cornell seems to be the Harston History web site. The main source of information about her seems to be from the 1937 account of Harston written by Mary’s sister, Helen C Greene.

According to the entry on the web site, Fanny lived in Button End, Harston. Her father was landlord of the White Swan. Fanny was a carrier, and transported goods and passengers to and from Cambridge twice a week. She seems to have been a rather colourful individual.

Her daughter married into the Thompson family, as evidenced by the fact that Charles Thompson was living with the Cornells as a lodger in 1871. He took over over the carrier business.

It is interesting that Fanny is never described in the census as a carrier, just the wife of an agricultural worker. It is also interesting that she appears to have been an outside. There is some confusion over where she was actually born, Hampshire, Sawston and Harston being entered in successive censuses, but this does suggest that she was not a locally born person. She also seems to have been a victim of crime on at least two occasions.

Fanny’s son in law, Charles Thompson, was living with her daughter Jane on the High Street in 1901. He seems to have passed on the carrier business to his son, Charles Thomas Thompson who lived from 1875 to 1948.

A list of Harston Carriers to Cambridge, derived from Kellys and available on the Harston History web site notes the following official carriers:


Cornwell to Bushel and Strike: Mon, Wed, Sat

Tuck to Little Rose: Tues, Thurs, Sat


Arthur Tuck: Tues, Thurs, Sat

Mrs Frances Cornwell: Mon, Wed, Sat


William Garner and Fanny Cornwell: Mon, Tues, Wed


W Sargison: Tues, Thurs, Sat

Mrs Frances Cornwell: Mon, Wed, Sat


Charles Thompson: Mon, Wed, Sat

Charles Thompson is listed as carrier until 1916. By this time it would presumably have been his son.


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