Samuel | Agnes

Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge was founded in 1846, to provide more room for burials when the parishes within the city of Cambridge were full. Now full itself, Mill Road Cemetery today is a beautiful and slightly wild spot. It’s still a consecrated churchyard, but is also a nature sanctuary, full of songbirds and blackberries. 

Next to a tall yew bush, Agnes and Samuel Lewis share a gravestone in the shape of a high Celtic cross, carved on all four faces with designs of interlaced knotwork. Their full names are written formally on the foot of the stone at the base, but the simple words Samuel |  Agnes are written, in insular script, at heart height.

Samuel Savage Lewis (1836-1891) was Mrs Lewis’s beloved husband, a Fellow of Corpus Christi and the Parker Librarian; they married in 1887, but he died just over three years later, in 1891. Thirty-five years later, when Agnes, too, died, she was buried by his side.

Agnes Smith Lewis and Margaret Dunlop Gibson, ‘the Sisters of Sinai’, were twins, Biblical scholars, experts in Syriac, discoverers of ancient manuscripts, and two of the most generous benefactors of benefactors of Westminster College in the early twentieth century. They lived together in Cambridge at their house, Castlebrae – five minutes’ walk from the College, and now part of Clare College – and after their husbands had died, they spent their lives together.

But after a lifetime together, both sisters are buried with their husbands: when Margaret died (in 1920) she, too, was buried next to her husband, James Young Gibson (1826-1886), essayist and translator, in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh.

The website for Mill Road Cemetery Cambridge has much more information about many of the graves, the history of the cemetery, the wildlife, and the art installations there. Check there for more information and to find out about forthcoming events.

Westminster Confession: Now Online in the Digital Library!

This month, we’re proud to announce a new scholarly resource: a virtual copy of the only known manuscript version of the Confession of Faith. Following a digitisation project by the United Reformed Church History Society (URCHS), the Westminster Confession is being added to the Cambridge University Library’s Digital Library website, and the images will be available online to scholars from around the world.

Image reproduced with the permission of the United Reformed Church History Society

Cambridge University Library is well known as a local landmark, with a tower visible from around the town. But for those of us who can’t actually be there in person to peruse the papers, the UL has been developing an incredible library of online images. The Digital Library collections include works from across the University and its Colleges, and feature everything from the earliest surviving financial accounts of the University, dating from 1363, to the diaries of an army surgeon in World War One.

As of this month, these documents will be joined by the Westminster Confession, a statement of faith which was followed for several centuries by churches organised into presbyteries of ministers and elders, rather than bishops and dioceses. Hand-written by Cornelius Burges, one of the Assessors appointed by the Westminster Assembly of Divines, this is the copy of the Confession which was presented to Parliament in 1646. The URCHS manuscript is bound in a volume which also contains copies of papers submitted by a group known as ‘the Dissenting Brethren’, with the Assembly’s responses, dating from around the same time – which have also been digitised – and was bought by the Presbyterian Historical Society (a fore-runner of the URCHS) in 1943.


See the Westminster Confession online here.