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), which may have been erected by his family because of the strong links of Edgar’s grandfather, George Parsons Hester, Town Clerk of Oxford, to this part of north Oxford.

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, the youngest child of George Hester (born in Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 11 December 1835). Edgar’s grandfather was George Parsons Hester, the Town Clerk of Oxford (see separate biography at end of this page).

Edgar’s father George married Margaret Jane Grant (born in Inverness in 1846), in Cardiff in the fourth quarter of 1869 and 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 in 1875, reg. second quarter)
  • Caroline Hester (born in Sunderland in 1876, reg. third quarter)
  • 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 Hester grew up at “The Mount” (which from 1896 was in St Margaret’s parish, but was demolished to make way for St Hugh’s College). At the time of the 1841 census he was at home in Oxford with his parents, but in 1851 he and his two brothers were paying a visit to their maternal uncle, the Revd William Hazel, who lived in Portsmouth.

George’s grandfather was the Manciple of All Souls College, and on 27 October 1852, George (17) was matriculated at the University of Oxford from that 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 a widowed housekeeper, Glamorgan-born Caroline Grant (61), and her Scottish-born daughter Margaret Grant (14), who is also described in the census as his housekeeper. Eight years later in the fourth quarter of 1869 Edgar’s father Margaret in the Cardiff registration district..

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; by 1875 they were living in Street, Somerset; and in 1877 they were in Sunderland. By 1879 they had moved up to Yorkshire, where the 1881 census shows them living at 105 Waterloo Crescent in Skircoat with their first six children.

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 the family was living at 60 Goldstone Villas in Hove. Edgar (6) was at school, and his father was now described as a tutor rather than a schoolmaster.

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

At the time of the 1901, Edgar’s widowed mother Mrs Margaret Hester was living at 51 Westbournes Villas, Aldrington, Sussex with three of her children, namely her eldest daughter Mary (28) who ten years before had been a governess but was now apparently Mrs Mary Aubrey Hall and working as an actress; Margaret (23); and Edgar himself (16). The one-year-old daughter of one of Edgar’s siblings, Josephine M. A. Hester (born in Falmouth) was also living with them.

In the second quarter of 1906 in the Paddington Registration District Edgar Hazel Hester married Mary Hilda Lucy Charleton (known as Hilda, and ten years his senior, having been born in Chelsea in 1874). They do not appear to have had any children.

Edgar Hazel Hester joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a career soldier before the First World War, and was appointed Second Lieutenant on 16 February 1907 and Lieutenant in 1910. At the time of the 1911 census, when he was 26, he was serving in 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 Marie Sophie Lebrun at 17 Brunswick Square, London. Meanwhile Edgar’s mother Mrs Margaret Jane Hester was at 46 Goldstone Villas in Hove, accompanied by her unmarried daughter Margaret (27).

Poppy In 1914 Edgar Hazel Hester was appointed a Captain in the 2nd Battalion (attached 7th Battalion) of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He went missing 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, Brighton and his place of death as France or Belgium.

St Margaret's Church War Memorial

After the War

Edgar’s mother
  • Mrs Margaret Jane Hester died at the age of 79 in Sussex in 1926 (third quarter, Steyning registration district).
Edgar’s widow
  • According to Edgar’s army records, his widow, Mrs Mary Hilda Lucy Hester, was living at 27D Bramham Gardens, Earl’s Court, London shortly after the war.

Edgar’s three surviving siblings

  • Charles Hester (born 1875) was the pupil of his uncle, James Torry Hester (Surgeon to the Radcliffe Infirmary 1849–65), and became a doctor. He died at the age of 54 in 1930 (Steyning district, second quarter)
  • Caroline Hester (born 1876) is hard to trace after 1891.
  • The Margaret J. Hester (born 1877) who married Reginald K. Betty in the third quarter of 1932 in the Steyning district may be Edgar’s unmarried sister, who remained with his mother. She would then have been 55.

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

As it appears that Edgar Hazel Hester’s memorial was erected in St Margaret’s Church because of the connections to the parish of the family of George Parsons Hester, a brief biography of his grandfather is provided here:

George Parsons Hester (1798–1876)

George Parsons Hester (“GPH”) was the son of John Hester and Susannah Torry (who was born on 18 July 1772). His parents had the following children:

  • George Parsons Hester (born on 19 April 1798 and baptised at All Saints Church on 16 May 1798)
  • James Torry Hester (baptised at All Saints Church on 20 April 1800)
  • Ann Hester (baptised at All Saints Church on 13 October 1802)

GPH’s father and Edgar Hazel Hester’s great-grandfather, John Hester (born in 1776), was made a freeman of Oxford by Act on 2 May 1796. He was described as a cook in both 1820 and 1821 when his two sons were admitted free, but was later more grandly described as Steward and then Manciple of All Souls College,

GPH was a solicitor in Oxford’s High Street by 1823, but moved to Bicester where he was a successor to Mr Walford shortly after his marriage in about 1824. He relinquished his business to Mr Osmond and returned to Oxford, where he was practising in Cornmarket in 1830. By 1831 the address of his office is given as St Aldate’s, and specifically as 6 St Aldate’s in 1839; and in 1841 it is described as being in the yard of the old Town Hall. The following year he went into partnership, and Hester & Hazel, attorneys, is listed at the Town Hall from 1842 to 1850. By 1852 the partnership had been dissolved, and Hester was listed on his own as an attorney at both North Parade and Cornmarket. GPH had also acted as Steward of All Souls College while in partnership with Hazel.

GPH was also an Oxford city councillor for the North Ward from October 1831 until 1838, when he resigned on being appointed Town Clerk of Oxford.

GPH (26) married Mary Hazel (19) on 5 August 1824 at St Peter’s Church, Wallingford. Mary (born in Benson on 7 December 1805 and baptised there on 7 January 1806) was the eldest daughter of the Revd William Hazel of Wallingford. They had the following children:

  • John Hester (born in Bicester on 30 November 1828 and baptised there on 7 January 1829)
  • Catherine Hester (born in Bicester and baptised there on 28 July.1830; married Edward Delamotte, son of the artist William Delamotte, at St Giles’ Church, Oxford on 6 December 1853)
  • William Hester (born in Cowley, baptised at St James’ Church on 23 August 1831)
  • Jane Hester (born in a house at Magdalen Bridge, Oxford and baptised at St Clement’s Church on 11 January 1833)
  • Mary Hester (born in north Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 25 January 1835)
  • George Hester (born in north Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 11 December 1835): father of Edgar Hazel Hester
  • Francis Hester (born in north Oxford and privately baptised via St Giles’ Church on 28 February 1837; died aged 16 in 1850, registered fourth quarter)
  • Charles Hester (born in north Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 20 July 1838)
  • Ann Hester (born in north Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 23 July 1840)
  • Frederick Hester (born in north Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 14 October 1841)
  • Eleanor Hester (born in north Oxford and baptised at St Giles’ Church on 14 April 1852)

GPH was described as being of St Aldate’s parish at the time of his marriage. At first he and his young wife lived in Bicester, where GPH obtained the first of many game licences in September 1826 and 1827. (In 1831, under the nom-de-plume “Copper Cap”, GPH published the then new Game Act with observations and strictures interwoven with the clauses.)

They appear to have spent a short time in Cowley in 1831, and then moved to a house in Oxford near Magdalen Bridge by 1833. This was probably the house of GPH’s father John, who died there at the age of 69 on 12 September 1835. It was described in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 10 October 1835 as a dwelling house with a stable, coach house, walled pleasure and fruit garden, a small paddock, and kitchen garden, close to the River Cherwell. John Hester was buried in the Antechapel of All Souls College, and there is a marble tablet in Latin on the wall praising his diligent and loyal services to the college.

By early 1836 GPH had a new house built in St Giles’s Field for his growing family. Officially named “The Mount” (but nicknamed Quillville), it stood in splendid isolation on land leased from University College, and its main entrance was on the west side of the Banbury Road. (In 1896 the house was taken into the new parish of St Margaret, and was demolished in 1913 to make way for St Hugh’s College.) In 1854 GPH signed a petition for a new church in north Oxford, promising to contribute to the erection of a church and its endowment, and SS Philip & James Church opened in 1862.

While Town Clerk, GPH unsuccessfully endeavoured in 1847 to retain Magdalen College School as a free foundation for the city. In 1851 he laid out the streets of Osney, and then went to work on the city archives: he sorted them himself and produced the first Schedule of City Property in 1855. He was instrumental in the development of north Oxford, including what is now St Margaret’s parish.

Between 1849 and 1865 GPH’s sons John, William, George, and Frederick were all made Freemen of Oxford.

GPH remained Town Clerk of Oxford until his death (although his son John undertook most of the work in the last two years). He died at the age of nearly 78 on 4 February 1876 and was buried in St Paul’s Cemetery (St Sepulchre’s) in the family vault. His will was proved in the Oxford District Registry on 7 June 1876.

GPH’s widow Mary Hester died at “The Mount” at the age of 74 on 12 May 1880.

GPH’s son John Hester continued as an attorney & solicitor at 117 St Aldate’s Street, and at the time of his death in 1910 was known as the oldest solicitor in Oxford.

GPH’s brother James Torry Hester (born in 1800) was matriculated as a privileged person (chirurgus) on 11 June 1821. He married Catherine Esther Law at St Mary Magdalen Church on 24 July 1824 and started his career in Abingdon, Berkshire, where he had seven children. He later became the Surgeon of the Radcliffe Infirmary. He died in Hastings in 1874.

GPH’s sister Anne was described as being of Cowley when she married the Oxford ironmonger Jonathan Browning at St James’s Church there on 28 July 1824. They initially lived in Cornmarket but had moved up with hr brother to St Giles’s field by 1833. They had nine children.

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