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65 Ainsworth Street

Boot and Shoe Makers

Number 65 is one of a three terraced houses on the west side of Ainsworth Street.


House uninhabited.

1888 – 1907

William Smee is a 54-year-old Boot and Shoemaker.  He was born in Toppesfield, Essex in 1838, and has moved to Ainsworth Street from the shoe shop at 39 Gwydir Street at least by 1888 when the Electoral Register shows him here at number 65.

He lives there with his wife Sarah Ann (nee Black, 53, born in Cambridge), and their seven children, all of whom were born in St Andrew the Less, Cambridge. William (23, Servant), Henry (21, Servant), Albert (17, Grocer’s Assistant), Ellen (14), Ernest (12, Scholar), Elizabeth Susan (11, Scholar) and John (7, Scholar).

In December 1895 William Smee (junior) died of consumption.  His father told the inquest, held at the Claremont on Ainsworth Street, that his son had been in and out of hospital for some time. About one o’clock on Saturday he went out into the garden, his son ‘held out his hand with a few coppers in it and fell down instantly. He had not been out of the Hospital a fortnight.

Albert (who was baptised “Mac Albert”) marries Maude Childerhouse in 1901. They live at 118 Gwydir Street and he becomes a Railway Refreshment Department District Cellarman.  By 1920 he is licensee of the Kingston Arms.  He dies in 1936.

Ellen is living at the Rectory in Landbeach with her sister Sarah in 1901. They are Housemaid and Cook.  Ellen marries William Norman in 1904.

Ernest Smee, Boot Repairer, is tried on 11th April 1904 of stealing from the till of Alfred Goodes, Boot Maker of Panton Street. He is sentenced to one week of hard labour. The trial was reported in the Cambridge Independent Press under the tagline “Suffering from Religious Mania”. Detective-Sergeant Marsh states that the prisoner “seemed a bit funny at times” and that there was insanity in the family.

However, on the 15th April he is admitted to the Lunatic Asylum. Despite being released on the 17th, he is back on the 23rd April.  Ernest remains there until his death in September 1930.

Elizabeth is a Domestic Servant to a Draper in St Ives in 1901. She marries Henry Thorogood in 1910.

John Smee is absent from other Census records and currently a mystery.

William Smee (senior) and Sarah Ann are still at number 65 in 1901. Their son Henry Smee (now 36 and a College Servant) is still living with his parents. In 1902 Henry marries Florence Turner.

They are now joined by their son Edmund (38, a bootmaker), Rachael (40, a Domestic Servant) and Arthur (32, a bootmaker).

Edmund was with his parents on the 1881 Census but absent from 1891. Currently a mystery.

Rachael was working in Lambeth as Domestic Cook. However, in August 1901 she is admitted to the Lunatic Asylum where she remains until her death in February 1933.

Arthur was working as a Shoemaker in Dallington, Northampton. By 1913 he’s vanman for a fruit and vegetable seller and lives in Adam and Eve Row.

Sarah Ann Smee died in 1902, her husband William Smee (senior) died in 1907.


James Brown, 40, oilman, driver, b. Chesterton

Emma Brown, 40, b. Waterbeach

Malcolm Brown, 16, apprentice at a house furnisher, b. Chesterton

Olive Brown, 15, apprentice dressmaker, b. Chesterton

Gladys Ashman, 4, niece, b. Chesterton

James and Emma are 17 years married.  They had 4 children,  2 of whom have died.


UK census records (1881 – 1939), Essex Church of England Parish Registers, England & Wales, Civil Registration Death Index (1837-1915), England & Wales Marriages (1837-2005), Cambridge Independent Press 27 December 1895, Cambridge Daily News 16 December 1920, UK, Lunacy Patients Admission Registers, 1846-1912, England & Wales, Crime, Prisons & Punishment, 1770-1935, Cambridge Independent Press 15 April 1904


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