Eliza Howcutt (1845-1923)


Eliza was the oldest child of John & Susan (Higginson) Howcutt of Leicester. Her father was a prosperous seed merchant, able to afford the cost of enrolling Eliza and her sister Helen at a school at Effingham Road, Dover, where they were listed amongst 16 boarders present at the time of the 1861 census.

She married Rev Richard Corker Meade at Knighton church, near Leicester, in 1867. Richard had been born in Ireland, where his father William Meade was rector of Inchinabacky in county Cork and his brother William Edward was later to be the Church of Ireland Bishop of Cork.

Richard and Eliza initially lived at Marmullane where he served as curate. The three oldest of their nine children were born in Ireland. In 1872, the family moved to England where Richard was appointed Vicar of Oatlands, Surrey.

In 1875, Richard was instituted as Vicar of St Neots, a market town in Huntingdonshire whose population at the time amounted to about 3,000. He held that position until his death in 1902.

One of the attractions of St Neots was its 15-room vicarage. This building stood in Church Street, conveniently opposite the parish church, and was home in 1881 to Richard and Eliza, their four children and four servants - a cook, parlour maid, nurse and housemaid. Ten years later, seven children with ages ranging from 21 to four were living there and the number of resident servants was still four. In 1901, only three children were living with the parents at the vicarage as were three staff.



Eliza remained at St Neots during her widowhood, residing at Cedar House in Cambridge Street until she died in 1923. The schedule she completed for the 1911 census states that the property contained 18 rooms and that those present on the census night were Eliza (by then signing her name as "Lilley"), three adult children, a valet, cook, kitchen maid and house maid.


1887 map with vicarage, church and Cedar House


The building formerly used as St Neots vicarage is now a care residence called Aisling Lodge, 27 Church Street. Cedar House has been demolished, its site being used as a Lidl car park.