Oxford Ghost Signs: Coster (butcher), 51 Old High Street

Coster detail

This ghost sign at 51 Old High Street reads simply:


Thomas Coster was the butcher here at the time of the 1881 census, but by 1891 he had moved away and this was already a ghost sign.

See below for more about Thomas Coster.

Coster shop

Thomas Coster (1845–1926)

Thomas Coster was born in Stadhampton in 1845 and baptised there on 5 October. He was the son of the blacksmith Thomas Coster of Stadhampton and his second wife Sarah Quartermain of Garsington, who were married at Garsington on 7 June 1843. At the time of the 1851 census Thomas (5) was living at Stadhampton with his parents and his sisters Mary (10) and Sarah (3).

By the time of the 1871 census Thomas (25) was a butcher and had moved to east Oxford. He was boarding at 1 Cross Street in with the butcher Samuel Tombs.

On 31 December 1872 at St Andrew’s Church in Old Headington Thomas Coster (26), described as a butcher, married Eliza Mary North (18), the daughter of the gentleman Lewis North (formerly a market gardener of 29 Old High Street).

At the time of the 1881 census Thomas (36) was living alone in Old High Street, Headington with his housekeeper Mary Ellen Honey (26) and her baby William Thomas Honey (two months), who was born in Headington. Thomas's wife Eliza Mary Coster was paying a visit to the Berresford family in Nottingham, and may never have returned to her husband. She may be the Eliza M. Coster who died in Nottingham in 1913 and was buried there on 12 May that year.

At the time of the 1891 census Thomas (46), a self-employed butcher, still described himself as married but was living in Headington Quarry over the baker & grocer’s shop of his younger brother James Coster and his family.

By the time of the 1901 census Thomas described himself as a widower and was still living with his brother James and family in Quarry (with the address now given as Douglas Hill).

Thomas Coster died at 18 Trinity Road in Quarry at the age of 84 and was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard on 28 January 1926.

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Stephanie Jenkins