John GRIFFITHS (1806–1885)
His sister Sophia GRIFFITHS (1809–1871)
His housekeeper Mary Ann GOODING (1815–1910)
St Mary Magdalen section: Row 4, Grave C62

Griffiths grave

Mary Ann Gooding


[On opposite side]

[On short edge (left):
BORN NOV. 29 1815. DIED APRIL 11 1910

See the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and also Wikipedia for the full career
of John Griffiths, Warden of Wadham College, Oxford, and Keeper of the University Archives

John Griffiths and his sister Sophia Griffiths were both born in the parish of St Margaret in Rochester, Kent on 27 July 1806 and 3 January 1809 respectively. Their father was the Vicar of the parish and Master of the King’s School, Rochester.

Mary Ann Gooding, who served the family for at least 44 years (first as Sophia’s lady’s maid and latterly as John Griffiths’s housekeeper), was born in Ospringe, Kent on 29 November 1815.

John Griffiths was educated at Winchester College and Wadham College, Oxford, and graduated with second-class honours in both classics and mathematics in 1827. He was elected a Fellow of Wadham in 1830, and was Sub-Warden of the college from 1837 to 1854. He was ordained deacon in 1837, and priest in 1838.

He does not appear to have been in Oxford at the time of the 1841 census. His sister Sophia (32) was then on holiday in Eastbourne with their mother Susanna and one servant.

John Griffiths spent the census night of 1851 at Wadham College, describing himself as “Tutor of the College, Clerk without cure of souls”. Sophia (42), whose occupation was given as “Gentlewoman”, now had her own household with three servants at Petersham in Surrey; and one of those servants was Mary Ann Gooding (35). In 1854 John Griffiths resigned his Fellowship at Wadham College and went to live at Hampton Wick, but returned to Oxford in 1857 when he was appointed Keeper of the University Archives.

63 St Giles's Street


By 1861 John Griffiths had moved into 63 St Giles’s Street (left, centre house), the former home of James Ogle in the terrace which was demolished to make way for Blackfriars.



The 1861 census shows John and his sister Sophia living here with just two servants: Mary Ann Gooding (45), described as a lady’s maid, and a housemaid.

John Griffiths’s sister died in 1871:

† Sophia Griffiths died at 63 St Giles’s Street on 3 January 1871 on her 62nd birthday and was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 7 January (burial recorded in parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

At the time of the 1871 census John Griffiths was living at 63 St Giles’s Street with his cousin, Madeline Le Touzel (17), who had been born in the Channel Islands. His servant Mary Ann Gooding (55) had stayed with him after Sophia’s death and was now his housekeeper, and he also had a cook, housemaid, and general servant.

Later that year he became Warden of Wadham College and moved into the Warden’s Lodgings there; but he kept on his house at 63 St Giles’s Street, and is listed there continuously in directories from 1861 to 1884.

At the time of the 1881 census he was living in the Warden’s Lodgings with his cousin and ward Maude Le Touzel (23), who was born in Esher. Mary Ann Gooding had loyally moved with him to Wadham to continue as his housekeeper, where he also had a cook and two housemaids. Later that year he resigned as Warden of Wadham and returned to 63 St Giles’s Street, where he died in 1885:

† John Griffiths died at the age of 79 on 14 August 1885, and he was buried in his sister’s grave at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery on 19 August after a funeral service at Wadham College (burial recorded in the parish register of St Mary Magdalen Church).

His obituary appeared in Jackson’s Oxford Journal on 22 August 1885:


At Oxford on Wednesday were committed to the grave the remains of the Rev. John Griffiths, D.D., Keeper of the Archives of the University of Oxford, and formerly Warden of Wadham College, who died on the previous Friday, in the 80th year of his age.

The funeral took place on Wednesday and was attended by a gathering, large for this period of the Long Vacation, of old members of his College, personal friends, and leading members of the University, in which for so many years he had played a prominent and most useful part. The first part of the service was held in the Chapel of his College, the officiating clergy being the Rev. Dr. Codrington, Fellow, and the Rev. A. Mayhew, Chaplain. The concluding portion of the service was taken at St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, by the Vice-Chancellor, who thus testified his respect for the memory of Dr. Griffiths.

Dr. Griffiths was educated at Winchester College. He took the degree of Bachelor of Arts, being second class in classics and second class in mathematics, in the year 1827. He was one of the four College Tutors who addressed to the Hebdomadal Council a protest against the Tractarian movement in the year 1871. He was appointed Select Preacher in 1850, Keeper of the Archives in 1857, and Warden of Wadham College in 1871. The last-named office, which was not altogether to his taste, he resigned in 1881. He was never married. Though not much known to the world, Dr. Griffiths was greatly respected in the University. He had many friends and no enemies. He never said or did an unkind thing. Though liberal in his sentiments, he was not a great lover of reforms and changes. He had a definite character of his own, and was always the same. He was clear-headed and accurate in business and very careful about matters of detail. Had he chosen the profession of the law he would have risen to eminence. He was a gentleman of the old school, slightly formal in his dress and manners, and a little too cautious in his ways, but truly kind and hospitable, singularly courteous, and unwilling to hurt the feelings of others. His good taste was remarkable in all his actions. He was a sound scholar and a great lover of the Fine Arts. His collection of engravings, which was disposed of a few years since, was well known to connoisseurs. One of his Rembrandts obtained at the sale the large price of 1500l. As Keeper of the Archives he was never weary of answering the minute questions which were addressed to him by genealogists and others, and he would take as much care about the least things as though they had been the greatest. He was a notable figure in Oxford, though he led the quietest of lives. The mention of his death will recall to members of the beautiful College with which he was so long connected the recollection of the many kindnesses which he showed them, of the words of advice which he gave them when needed, of his generous acts, of the choice entertainments at which he delighted to receive his friends, and they will acknowledge that in all the particulars of his life he left upon them the impression that he was a wise and good man.

On 31 August 1885, at the close of his sermon at St Martin’s Church (full version in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 5 September 1885, the Revd S. J. Hulme praised John Griffiths, saying “No man, within the limits of my experience, ever more scrupulously rendered to every man his due, not only in the way of actual rights, but also in courtesy, in consideration for the feelings of others…. [He had] a trust in his fellow creatures, a readiness to do them service, a prompt and ungrudging generosity, which he certainly had learnt in the school of Christ.”

Griffiths’ wealth at death was £30,091 6s. 1d.

His servant Mary Ann Gooding must have been left comfortably off, as at the time of the 1891 census she had her own home at 44 Observatory Street, Oxford. She was then aged 75, and her niece Alice Jennings (31), a teacher of music born in Rochester, was living with her. She was still there in 1901 at the age of 85, this time accompanied by her nephew Henry Yarnton (60), a retired post office clerk born in Oxford.

Miss Gooding died in 1910:

† Miss Mary Ann Gooding died at the age of 94 on 11 April 1910, and although she was only a retired servant was buried at St Sepulchre’s Cemetery with the Warden of Wadham and his sister, who must have thought very highly of her loyalty to them.



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