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6 Milford Street

A coal agent and a tailoress

6 Milford Street is in a terrace of 11 houses on the south side of the street, with a plaque reading Clara Terrace 1869. The terrace was built by property developer and coach builder John Burford, and he named it after his daughter.

1871 census

Ralph Root, head, 36, foreman at coal wharf, b. Colchester, Essex
Matilda Root, wife, 37, b. Southery, Norfolk
Florence Root, daughter, 9, scholar, b. Colchester, Essex
Joseph Root, son, 8, scholar, b. Colchester, Essex
Charlotte Root, daughter, 6, scholar, b. Cambridge
George H Root, son, 3, scholar, b. Cambridge
Jabez Dunthorne, lodger, 20, carpenter, b. Ely, Cambridgeshire
James Dennis, lodger, 32, railway porter, b. Docking, Norfolk
William Bunnage, lodger, 20, tailor, b. Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Thomas Bunnage, lodger, 17, assistant to baker

Before moving to Cambridge, Ralph Root was the landlord of the Sawyer’s Arms in Colchester. In Cambridge he found his calling in the coal trade. He and his family lived in Milford Street for more than 30 years.

Ten years earlier, brothers William and Thomas Bunnage, then aged 10 and 8, were inmates at Hitchin District Union Workhouse.

1881 census

Ralph Root, head, married, 46, coal agent, b. Colchester, Essex
Joseph Root, son, 18, coal porter out of employ, b. Colchester, Essex
George H. Root, son, 14, apprentice to printers, b. Cambridge
Oliver Root, son, 8, scholar, b. Cambridge
Matilda Grose, aunt, widow, 75, annuitant, b. Garboldisham, Norfolk

In 1879 Ralph Root signed a petition asking for sewers to be built in Milford Street.

1891 census

Ralph Root, head, 56, coal agent, b. Colchester, Essex
Matilda Root, wife, 58, b. Southery
Oliver Root, son, 18, clerk, b. Cambridge

1901 census

Ralph Root, head, 66, coal dealer, b. Colchester, Essex
Matilda Root, wife, 68, b. Southery, Norfolk

1911 census

Emma Elliott, widow, 66, b. Cambridge
Laura Elliott, daughter, 30, tailoress, b. Cambridge

Emma Elliott’s husband Philip, a railway engine driver, had died in 1904. They and their seven children had lived in Gwydir Street for many years.

1939 England and Wales register

Laura Benstead, 2 June 1880, widow, housewife
Rita A Benstead [later married name Tyler], 18 December 1918, single, filing clerk, food factory

Laura Benstead was Laura Elliott, resident in 1911. Her husband Henry had died in 1932.


UK census records (1841 to 1911), General Register Office birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 onwards), the 1939 England and Wales Register, and electoral registers.


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