Poppy Edgar Hazel Hester (1884/5–1917) Poppy

Edgar Hazel Hester is not listed on the war memorial outside St Margaret’s Church, probably because he never actually lived in its parish. He does however have a fine memorial inside the church (below). It was probably erected because of the strong links of Edgar’s grandfather, George Parsons Hester, Town Clerk of Oxford, to this part of north Oxford. Edgar's father appears to have become alienated from his family after marrying his housekeeper, and it is uncertain whether members of the Hester family erected this memorial, or Edgar's widow.

Hester memorial


The inscription on the pillar reads:

A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

Detail of memorial

This memorial on the database of the Imperial War Museums: Capt. E. H. Hester

Edgar Hazel Hester was born in Brighton in 1884/5. His grandfather was George Parsons Hester, a solicitor and the Town Clerk of Oxford: for more about him, see his grave page on St Sepulchre's Cemetery website.

Edgar's father George Hester was born in Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 11 December 1835. He grew up in the large house his father had built on the Banbury Road called “The Mount”: from 1896 this was in St Margaret’s parish. (It  was demolished to make way for St Hugh’s College.) On 27 October 1852, George (17) was matriculated at the University of Oxford from All Souls College. He gained his B.A. degree in 1856, and at the time of the 1861 census, when he was a single man of 25, George was a teacher of Mathematics, living alone at Ash in Surrey looked after by his future wife and her mother.

Edgar's mother Margaret Jane Grant was born in Inverness, Morayshire, Scotland in 1846. At the time of the 1861 census she was aged 14, and she and her mother, Glamorgan-born Caroline Grant (61), were living in Ash with George and described as his housekeepers.

In the fourth quarter of 1869 in Cardiff, Edgar’s father George Hester married his young housekeeper Margaret Jane Grant. They had eight children (of whom four were dead by 1911):

  • Mary Aubrey Hester (born in Teignmouth, Devon in 1870/1, registered first quarter of 1871)
  • George Hester (born in Teignmouth, Devon in 1873, registered fourth quarter; died aged nine in Sussex in 1882, death registered Steyning second quarter)
  • Charles Hester (born in Street, Somerset and baptised there on 25 May 1875)
  • Caroline Hester (born in Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland, Durham on 2 July 1876 and baptised there on 30 July)
  • Margaret Jane Hester (born in Harrogate in 1877, registered third quarter)
  • Violet Hester (born in Harrogate in 1879, reg. second quarter; died aged two in Sussex in 1882, reg. Steyning second quarter)
  • Eveline Hester (born in 1882, reg. Steyning fourth quarter; died aged one in Sussex in 1884, reg. Steyning second quarter)
  • Edgar Hazel Hester (born in Brighton in 1884/5, reg. Steyning first quarter of 1885).

Edgar’s father George never came back to Oxford, and the fact that his marriage took place in Wales indicates that his family may not have approved of him marrying his servant. George continued to work as a teacher, and he and his wife were constantly on the move around the country for the first twelve years of their marriage.

At the time of the 1871 census they were living at Coombe, West Teignmouth, Devon with their first child Mary; by 1875 they were living in Street, Somerset; and in 1877 they were in Sunderland. By 1877 they had moved up to Yorkshire: they first lived in Harrogate.

By the time of the 1881 census Edgar's parents George (45) and Margaret (35) were living at 105 Waterloo Crescent in Skircoat near Halifax with their first six children Mary (10), George (7), Charles (5), Caroline (4), Margaret (3), and Violet (1).

In 1881/2 George and Margaret Hester eventually settled in Sussex, where they spent the rest of their lives. Near the beginning of 1885 Edgar Hazel Hester, who was their youngest child, was born in Brighton.

At the time of the 1891 census Edgar (6) was living at 60 Goldstone Villas in Hove with his father George (55), who was now described as a tutor rather than a schoolmaster, his mother Margaret (44), and four of his siblings: Mary (28), who was a governess, and Charles (15), Caroline (14), and Margaret (13), who were at school.

Edgar's father George Hester died early in 1898 at the age of 63.

At the time of the 1901 census Edgar (16) was living at 51 Westbournes Villas, Aldrington, Sussex with his widowed mother Margaret (48), his sister Margaret (23), and his married sister Mary Aubrey Hall (28), who was an actress. Josephine Hester, the one-year-old daughter of one of Edgar’s siblings, was also living with them: she had been born in Falmouth, but the birth of no child of that name was registered in Cornwall.

In the second quarter of 1906 in the Paddington Registration District, Edgar Hazel Hester married Mary Hilda Lucy Charleton, who was ten years his senior. Known as Hilda, she was born in Chelsea on 5 April 1874, the daughter of the cement manufacturer Charles Charleton and his French wife Marie Sophie Lebrun, who were married at St George's Church, Hanover Square in 1873. She was baptised at St Matthias Church, Park Court on 23 May 1873. At the time of the 1901 census Mary (26) was living at 17 Brunswick Square in Hove with her parents and her brother Edward (23). They were evidently much better off than Edgar's family, as they had five servants (a cook, parlourmaid, housemaid, and two general maids.

Mary was ten years older than Edgar, and they do not appear to have had any children.

By 1907 Edgar Hazel Hester had joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a career soldier. He was appointed Second Lieutenant on 16 February 1907, and on 24 July 1909 was seconded for service with the West African Regiment and granted the temporary rank of Lieutenant, becoming a full Lieutenant in 1910.

At the time of the 1911 census Edgar (26) was serving with the West African Regiment in Sierra Leone. His wife Hilda (36) spent census night with her parents Charles Charleton, a paint manufacturer, and her French mother (59) and Marie (57) at 17 Brunswick Square, Hove: they had three servants (a cook, housemaid, and between-maid). Meanwhile Edgar’s mother Mrs Margaret Jane Hester was at 46 Goldstone Villas in Hove, accompanied by her unmarried daughter Margaret (27).

On 17 August 1912 it was reported in The Times that Lieutenant E. H. Hester of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers had been “restored to the establishment” on 15 August.

Poppy In the First World War Edgar Hazel Hester was appointed a Captain on 19 December 1915 and served the 2nd Battalion (attached 7th Battalion) of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He went missing in Belgium at Frezenberg on 16 August 1917, and it was not until 15 March 1919 that he was officially declared dead. His body must eventually have been found, however, as he is buried in the Bedford House Cemetery at Ypres (Enclosure No. 4 XIV.F.31).

Probate was not granted to his widow until 9 July 1919. His effects came to £673 6s. 4d., and his address was given as 17 Brunswick Square, Hove (where his in-laws lived) and his place of death as France or Belgium.

His mother, brother, and sister Margaret put up this memorial to him in St Andrew's Church, Hove in addition to the one shown above in St Margaret's Church. He also appears to be remembered on the this war memorial plaque on the wall of the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Billericay, Essex. In addition he is listed among the Irish casualties of World War I, but as he does not appear to have had any Irish connections, he was probably only added because he had joined an Irish regiment.

Hester's medalsMedals of Edgar Hester, reproduced by kind permission of Derek Dancy, who inherited them indirectly from
his great-aunt,
Miss Elizabeth Buckwell, one of the lady companions of Edgar's widow Hilda

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Edgar’s mother
  • Mrs Margaret Jane Hester died at 28 Boundary Road, Hove, Sussex at the age of 79 on 3 July 1926. Her effects came to £223, and her executor was her unmarried daughter of the same name.
Edgar’s widow
  • Mrs Mary Hilda Lucy Hester was living at 27D Bramham Gardens, Earl’s Court, London shortly after the war. In 1934 she joined the Women's Reserve police force. In 1939 she was aged 74 and living in Hove at 7 Hove Park Way with a Miss Minnie Tangas (76) and their maidservant. Edgar's widow died at 105 Holland Road, Hove, Sussex on 19 October 1960. Her effects came to £46,965 7s. 11d., and her bank acted as her executor. Her two lady companions were the sole beneficiaries of her will.

Edgar’s three surviving siblings

  • Charles Hester (born 1875) was the pupil of his uncle, James Torry Hester (Surgeon to the Radcliffe Infirmary from 1849 to 1865), and became a doctor. He died at 28 Boundary Road, Hove (his mother's house) at the age of 54 on 14 May 1930. His effects came to £4,470 3s. 3d., and his sister Margaret was his executor.
  • Caroline Hester (born 1876) is hard to trace after 1891 and Mary Aubrey Hester (born 1871), the actress who was described as Mrs Hall in 1901, makes her last appearance at that census. One of them was dead by 1911.
  • Margaret Jane Hester (born 1877) remained with her mother until her death in 1926, and then presumably with her brother Charles until his death in 1930. In the third quarter of 1932 in Sussex when she was 55 years old she married Reginald Kemmis Betty. Mary Jane (Kemmis) Betty was living at 34 Hove Park Villas in Hove when she died at 67 Wilbury Avenue, Hove on 21 March 1957. Her effects came to £23,707 13s. 7d.

See also

  • CWGC: HESTER, Edgar Hazel
  • National Archives: WO339/6735 for correspondence between the War Office and Edgar Hazel Hester’s wife when he was missing
  • Oxford Chronicle of 12 February 1876 and Jackson’s Oxford Journal of the same date: Obituaries of Edgar’s grandfather, George Parsons Hester
  • Photograph of The Mount in Ann Spokes Symonds, The Changing Faces of North Oxford, Book I, page 23
  • Wikipedia: Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers

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