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17 Milford Street

A rate collector and former prison warder, a salesman, and a postman

17 Milford Street is one of a terrace of three houses on the north side of the street, built in the 1880s.

1891 census

Thomas W Sexton, head, 55, urban [sanitation?] rate collector, b. Godmanchester, Huntingdonshire
Jane Sexton, wife, 49, b. Wymondham, Norfolk
Gertrude M Sexton, daughter, 19, milliner, b. Cambridge

Thomas Sexton was the son of Maria Sexton, apparently unmarried. At the time of the 1851 census, aged 15, he was living in Godmanchester with his grandparents; his grandfather William Sexton  was described as a pauper and agricultural labourer.

From this disadvantaged start in life, Thomas Sexton established a respected career as a prison warder. In 1871 he was the head warder at the Town Gaol nearby in Gonville Place. On the night of the census there were 27 prisoners, 19 men and 8 women, including a gipsy hawker from Chesterton and a washerwoman from Brixham, Devon. He later worked at the much larger prison in Chesterton.

His obituary in 1899 (Cambridge Independent Press, 28 April 1899, page 5) tells us that he changed his career to rate collection because he had been severely injured by a prisoner and had to resign on  a pension. It also tells us that he had been a sidesman for St James’s Church (most likely the wooden church nearby on Sleaford Street) and was a member of the Barnwell Allotments’ Society.

1901 census

Leonard W Godfrey, head, 43, grocer’s manager, b. West Winch, Norfolk
Emma M Godfrey, wife, 40, b. Chippingham, Cambridgeshire
Winifred F Godfrey, daughter, 13, b. Brentford, Middlesex
Janet V Godfrey, daughter, 3, b. Cambridge

Leonard Godfrey was the son of a tenant farmer from West Winch, near King’s Lynn. He moved to Cambridge in his 20s to work as a grocer’s assistant, and in 1881 he was assistant to grocer William Cory Daniel at 70 Trumpington Street. He subsequently moved to Stamford, Lincolnshire, but had moved back to Cambridge by 1901.

1911 census

Leonard Godfrey, head, 53, publisher’s traveller, b. West Winch, Norfolk
Emma Godfrey, wife, 50, b. Chippenham, Cambridgeshire
Winifred Godfrey, daughter, 23, at home, b. Brentford, Middlesex
Janet Godfrey, daughter, 13, at school, b. Cambridge
Thomas Hammond, father-in-law, widower, 76, railway pensioner, b. Huntingdon
Married 25 years, 2 children

After retirement, Leonard Godfrey went to live with his daughter Janet and son-in-law Henry Parker in Soham, where Henry was the station master.

1939 England and Wales register

William S Hutcherson, 18 Jan 1893, married, postman
Edith A Hutcherson, 10 Dec 1898, married, unpaid domestic duties

William Hutcherson was the son of a railway platelayer from Bassingbourn. In 1911, aged 18, he was working as a domestic groom. Edith was the daughter of a farm labourer from Great Wigborough near Colchester. They were still at 17 Milford Street at the time of William’s death in 1975.


UK census records (1841 to 1911), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), the 1939 England and Wales Register, electoral registers, trade directories, and local newspapers available via


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