Some notable Preston Cambridge alumni

The main source for this material is a collection of biographies by the Venns, father and son. See: Preston’s Cambridge men and (a few) women

Composite image of Alexander Rigby, Mother Mary Cephas and Isaac Ambrose
Three Preston Cambridge alumni: Alexander Rigby, Mother Mary Cephas and Isaac Ambrose. The image of Mother Mary Cephas, taken on her 100th birthday in 1979, is from the Cardinal Newman College Archive:

The long list of Preston’s Cambridge alumni would provide a starting point for a Who Was Who for the town … or, to judge by some of the entries, would furnish a rogues’ gallery. Examples from both categories are listed below. All the women who feature in the full list of alumni (or alumnae?) are included.

From the 17th century there is the Puritan divine Isaac Ambrose, vicar of Preston, and the various members of the Rigby clan of Preston and Goosnargh. When trying to get a handle on Civil War politics and the different factions involved I have found it useful to keep in mind the principled Ambrose and his contemporary, the profiteering Alexander Rigby.

Ambrose was a gentle soul who each year sought a monthly isolated retreat in the woods near Garstang to recover from the troubles of the times, and who stayed true to his principles after the Restoration.

Alexander Rigby, on the other hand, never let principles get in the way of a good deal: he was ‘never knowne to bee worth one [thousand] till hee became a publicke robber by law: but you must remember hee had beene a lawyer and a bad one.’ The family’s greed led Alexander to lay claim to an estate stretching to 50 square miles in America, previously claimed by a Royalist; his son, Edward, ‘also a lawyer, who “took to crooked ways,” succeeded him in that estate.’

See also:
Public School Prestonians
Dorothy Marshall – a pupil at Preston Park School who went on to Girton College and a distinguished career as a historian

Other contenders for the rogues’ gallery include the Preston Grammar School headmaster Edward Denham who, according to Venn, died in Chester Castle while facing a charge of murder. Another candidate is Richard Wallace Pedder, son of Edward Pedder esq. of Darwen Bank, Preston who arrived at Cambridge with some £10,000, which he spent and then ran up debts to the amount of £5,000, becoming bankrupt in Canterbury gaol in 1857.

More respectable entries include Preston’s first historian Richard Kuerden, listed as Richard Jackson.

One wonders what qualified the newly-ordained Arthur Townley Parker to become rector of Burnley at the age of 25. Could it have something to do with his father being Robert Townley Parker, the Tory squire of Cuerden Hall who held the power of nomination to the rectory. Then there was Christopher Suddell, son of a Preston draper, appointed rector of Aughton in 1770 and shortly after ejected for simony.

Septimus Tebay, the Preston maths prodigy, has been dealt with at length elsewhere on this site.

The notable women included Alice Law, a pupil at Preston High School, who became a journalist, writing for many of the leading political and literary journals of her time. Another was Alice Mary Stoneman, first headmistress of the Park School, the successor to the High School, from 1907 to 1930.

Then there is Maud Evelyn Wahltuch, the daughter of a prominent Manchester Jewish family who converted to Catholicism and, as Mary Cephas, taught at Winckley Square Convent School. Mother Mary Cephas died at the convent in 1981 at the age of 101.

Preston’s Cambridge alumni
(fuller entries for those named below can be found in the following alphabetical entries)
A-B / C-D / E-G / H-J / K-M / N-P / R / S / T-V / W-Y

Isaac Ambrose, a gentle cleric with a muscular prose style, a 17th-century Presbyterian who was vicar of Preston and Garstang, much loved by his congregation in the latter town.

Thomas Ayres, the son of Zenas Ayres, a mechanical engineer of Cadley. A product of Preston Grammar School who went on to become European Language Master at the Imperial Naval College, Itogima, Japan.

Anna Maria Baker, assistant mistress Preston High School 1888-90.

Henry Glanville Barnacle, served as astronomer on the Government Transit of Venus Expedition to the Sandwich Islands in 1874. Principal of St John’s College, Grimsargh, 1898-1907.

Helen Bartram, assistant mistress Preston High School 1894-96.

John William Harold Battiscombe, career prison chaplain (Wakefield, Parkhurst, Wormwood Scrubs) who served at Preston prison from 1914 to 1930 and therefore including the period when conscientious objects were being subjected to very brutal treatment: complicit or incompetent?

Emily Constance Gilchrist Bell, pupil at Preston High School who founded and became headmistress of her own school.

James Bland, briefly a curate in Preston at the time of the Glorious Revolution: anti papist who went to become a leading Anglican cleric in Ireland.

William Bushell, high sheriff of Lancashire and founder of Goosnargh Hospital.

John Clay, Preston prison chaplain 1823-58.

Walter Lowe Clay, son of above, wrote biography of his father.

Peter Carter, headmaster of Preston Grammar School at Preston, was living in the town at the time of his death in 1590.

Roger Carus-Wilson, vicar of Preston 1817-39.

Thomas Cox, assistant master at Preston Grammar School, 1850-8; principal of Avenham School, Preston, 1858-61.

Richard Assheton Cross, member of the Red Scar family; M.P. for Preston 1857-62; for South West Lancashire, 1868-85; for the Newton Division, 1885-6. Home Secretary, 1874-80 and again, 1885-6; created Viscount Cross of Broughton-in-Furness, 1886. See also his brother William Assheton Cross.

Richard Croston, headmaster of Preston Grammar School 1680-9; a non-juror 1689.

Mabel Katharine Day, briefly an assistant mistress at Preston High School.

Edward Denham, headmaster of Preston School 1698-1704; died in Chester Castle, prisoner on a charge of murder 1717.

Robert Harris, headmaster of Preston Grammar School 1788-1835; vicar of St George’s, Preston, from 1798 until his death in1862

Constance Heron, left Newnham College 1876 and then assistant mistress at Preston High School.

Richard Jackson, better known as Richard Kuerden, a staunch Royalist; practised as a physician at Preston; antiquary; friend of Sir William Dugdale.

Sarah Courtney Julyan, assistant mistress Preston High School 1883-87.

William Langton, MP for Preston 1645; town clerk of Preston and recorder of Liverpool; lived at Broughton Tower.

Alice Law, pupil at Preston High School; member of Society of Women Journalists; widely published author, including sections on ‘Social and economic history’ and ‘Political history’ in Victoria History of County of Lancashire; contributed to the Athenæum, Spectator, Westminster Rev., Fortnightly, Econ. Rev., Hist. Rev., etc.

John Otway, Vice-Chancellor of the County Palatine of Lancaster 1660-89; King’s Attorney-General there; MP for Preston 1667-79, 1679-81.

Arthur Townley Parker, fourth son of the Preston MP Robert Townley Parker, of Cuerden Hall; secured the rectorship of Burnley at the age of 25 and stayed there for the next 45 years.

Henry Patten, 4th s. of William Patten, of Preston, Lancashire, gent., perhaps vicar of Garstang, Lancashire.

Richard Wallace Pedder, son of Edward Pedder esq. of Darwen Bank, Preston; came to Cambridge with some £10,000, which he spent and then ran up debts to the amount of £5000, becoming bankrupt; in Canterbury gaol in 1857.

Sir Alexander Rigby of LancashireAlexander Rigby, (left) colonel in the Parliamentary Army; deputy-lieutenant for Lancashire 1642; nominated one of the judges for the King’s trial 1648; Baron of the Exchequer 1649-52.

Alexander Rigby, son of Alexander (above); lieut-colonel in the Parliamentary Army; MP for Lancashire 1658, for Preston 1660.

Charles Rigby, son of Edward (below), serjeant-at-law; pupil at Preston Grammar School; brother of Edward (below).

Edward Rigby, son of Alexander (above); vice-chamberlain of Chester, 1660-2; steward of the borough of Preston, 1662; MP for Preston 1660 and 1661-81.

Edward Rigby, son of Edward (above); pupil at Preston Grammar School; M.P. for Preston, 1701, 1705-6.

Gilbert Rigby, son of Alexander of Middleton-in-Goosnargh.

John Thomas Rogers, possibly second master at Preston Grammar School c. 1860.

Alice Mary Smith, pupil at Preston High School; civil servant whose interests included travelling, pictures and music; her collected poems were published after her death in 1936.

Edwin Smith, second master at Preston Grammar School 1840-55; succeeded his brother (below) as headmaster 1855-7; chaplain to the Forces at Preston 1850-9 and again 1868-70.

George Nunn Smith, headmaster of Preston Grammar School 1835-55.

Katharine Hannah Nixon Smith, assistant mistress Preston High School 1880-84; later a missionary in Central Africa for many years.

Rose Anne Smith, born Preston 1866; became student at Newnham College at age of 24.

Lawrence Douglas Winstanley Spencer, pupil at Preston Grammar; vicar of St James’s, Preston, 1906-39, succeeding his father Thomas Barton Spencer, also a pupil at Preston Grammar School, who was vicar of St James’s from 1876 to 1906. Between them they were vicars of the church for more than 60 years.

The Stanley Family, several members of different branches of this family, including two Earls of Derby and two Preston MPs.

Alice Mary Stephenson, headmistress of Preston High School 1906-12.

Alice Mary Stoneman, headmistress: the Park School, Preston, 1907-30; published A short history of the Park School, Preston 1931.

Lucy Stowell (Mrs Lucy Hollins), pupil at Preston High School.

Christopher Sudell, son of Nicholas Sudell, glover and alderman of Preston; appointed rector of Aughton in 1700 and ejected for simony; soon back in office as vicar of Huyton; later preferments included vicar of Leyland and chaplain to the Earl of Derby.

Christopher Swainson, eldest son of John Swainson, calico merchant of Preston; after graduation became tutor to the sons of the 2nd Lord Clive ‘whom he accompanied to Eton’.

George Turner Tatham, headmaster of Preston Grammar School, 1859-74; his son Arthur Leopold Tatham (another Cambridge graduate) was educated at Lancaster Grammar rather than his father’s school.

Septimus Tebay - Rivington Grammar School headmasterSeptimus Tebay, (left) headmaster of Rivington Grammar School 1857-75; A labourer in Preston gas-works, who had taught himself mathematics and been sent to Cambridge by ‘some gentlemen in Preston.’ After retiring from Rivington, kept a public-house at Farnworth.

Richard Threlfall, eldest son of Richard Threlfall, of Hollowforth, Preston; professor of physics at Sydney University 1886-92; managing director of Albright and Wilson, chemical manufacturers at Oldbury; described as ‘one of the greatest of electrochemists.’

Alice Turner (Mrs Alice Foster), born in Preston and attended Preston High School.

Maud Evelyn Wahltuch (Mother Mary Cephas), daughter of a prominent Manchester Jewish family; converted to Catholicism; taught at Winckley Square Convent School.

George Walmesley, headmaster of Preston Grammar School 1677-8; rector of Leyland 1685-9.

Bertha Whalley, pupil at Preston High School and maths mistress there 1888-92.

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