Daniel EASTON (1825/6–1854)
Henry CORY (1831/2–1854)
Elizabeth Ann CHAMBERLAIN (1829–1854)
Mary Susan CHAMBERLAIN (1833–1854)
Caroline CHAMBERLAIN (1835–1854)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 5a, Grave C55 (two adjoining graves, one with two young men, one with three girls)

Grave of five drowned young people



to the Memory of

aged 28 years


aged 22 years

who with Elizabeth, Mary and
Caroline Chamberlain in
the adjoining grave were drowned in
the Isis on the 23rd day of June 1854
on the accidental upsetting of a boat



Lovely and pleasant in their lives
and in their deaths they were not divided



These are five young people who all died together when their boat capsized on the Isis on Friday 23 June 1854. The two men, Henry Cory and Daniel Easton, worked for the grocer Grimbly Hughes in Cornmarket, and the three Chamberlain sisters, whose father was a Trinity College bedmaker, lived with their parents at 1 Beaumont Buildings in St Mary Magdalen parish.

On that Friday evening they went out on the Thames in Oxford in a two-oared gig: the two men rowed, and one of the girls was steering, with the other two sitting behind her. Some witnesses thought that the boat was overloaded and unbalanced, and just before 9pm, when it was being rowed back to Oxford from Iffley on the wrong side of the river opposite the towpath, it capsized. All five occupants were taken to the Isis Tavern, where they were pronounced dead:

Henry Cory (22) and Daniel Easton (28) of St Martin’s parish, and Elizabeth Ann Chamberlain (25), Mary Susan Chamberlain (21) and Caroline Chamberlain (19) of Beaumont Buildings, drowned on 23 June 1854, were all buried together in two adjoining graves at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 27 June (with the five burials recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

The bodies were taken to Oxford the same evening: the girls to their parents in Beaumont Buildings, and the two young men to Messrs. Grimbly and Hughes in Cornmarket, where they lodged and worked. The deaths were all registered in Abingdon, because the part of the river near the Isis Tavern was in Berkshire.

The following description of the funeral appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 1 July 1854, after the report on the inquest:

The funeral took place on Tuesday morning, and excited an extraordinary and painful interest. About eleven o’clock two hearses conveyed the bodies of the young men from the house of Messrs. Grimbly and Hughes, Corn Market-street, followed by two mourning coaches containing some of their relatives, and Mr. Grimbly and Mr. Hughes, followed by the young men employed in their establishment. On reaching Beaumont-street, two hearses containing the coffins of the three young women and two mourning coaches with their parents and relatives preceded the funeral cortege, and proceeded in this order to the cemetery at Jericho, followed by an immense number of persons. On reaching the cemetery there were some hundreds more congregated, but the conduct of all assembled on this mournful occasion was decorous and in accordance with the scene. The five coffins, attended by the mourners, were taken into the chapel, where the service was read by the Rev. J. Ley, of St. Mary Magdalen, and the Rev. R. C. Hales, of St. Martin’s parish, ministers of the two parishes in which the deceased parties lived. The remains of the young women were interred in one grave, and those of the young men in an adjoining grave. The ceremony was of a deeply touching nature, and the spectacle of five young persons, but a few days before in the bloom of health, being consigned to their last resting-place at the same time, affected many to tears, and will not soon be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

Daniel Easton

Daniel Easton was born in Petworth, Sussex in 1826/7. He may be the boy of 14 who, together with his brother Walter (16), was lodging with the Reynolds family in Barking, Essex in 1841.

In about 1849 he came to work for Grimbly Hughes, the high-class grocers at 56 Cornmarket Street, Oxford, which was situated in St Martin’s parish. At the time of the 1851 census he was described as a grocer’s shopman and living over the premises with James Hughes and his wife, and eight other members of staff.

He was aged 28 when he drowned in 1854.

Henry Cory

Henry Cory was born in 1831/2, but is hard to identify. There are four young men of the right age with that name in the 1851 census, but none living near Oxford, and others with variant spellings such as Corry. All that can be said with certainty is that he moved to Oxford soon after that census, because at the time of his death in 1854 he was working as a clerk for the grocery business Grimbly Hughes in Cornmarket, and living over the shop with the rest of the staff, including, of course, Daniel Easton. At the inquest, his employer James Hughes said that he had been employed by the firm for less time than Daniel.

He was aged 22 when he drowned in 1854.

Elizabeth Ann Chamberlain
Mary Susan Chamberlain
Caroline Chamberlain

These were the daughters of Thomas Chamberlain, a Trinity College bedmaker, and Martha Salisbury, who lived at 1 Beaumont Buildings. They were aged respectively 25, 21, and 19 when they drowned. The girls’ parents and their brother Edward are buried in a separate grave at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, which gives more information about their family.



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