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St Peter-in-the East Church: Maurice Betts WILKS (1892–1916)

Maurice Betts Wilks was born in Banbury in 1892. He was the son of Frederick Henry Wilks (born in Hook Norton in c.1860) and Eleanor Betts (born in Banbury in 1862). His parents were married in Banbury in the third quarter of 1886 and had the following children:

  • Mary Eleanor Wilks (born in Banbury on 28 February 1887 and baptised at St Mary's Church there on 6 April)
  • Maurice Betts Wilks (born at Middleton Road, Grimsbury, Banbury in 1892 and baptised at Christ Church there on 11 December)
  • Frederick Oliver Wilks (born at Middleton Road, Grimsbury, Banbury on 16 March 1895 amd baptised at Christ Church there on 29 April)
  • Winifred Agnes Wilks (born at 44 Middleton Road, Grimsbury, Banbury on 14 April 1899 and baptised at Christ Church there on 2 May)
  • Alfred Leonard Wilks (born at 44 Middleton Road, Grimsbury, Banbury on 12 September 1901 and baptised at Christ Church there on 3 November).

At the time of the 1901 census Maurice (8) was living at 44 Middleton Road, Grimsbury with his father Frederick (40), who was a banker's clerk, his mother Eleanor (39), and his siblings Mary (14), Frederick (6), and Winifred (1). The family employed a 14-year-old servant girl.

By the time of the 1911 census the family had moved to east Oxford. Frederick (50), who was now a bank manager, was living at 134 Cowley Road with his wife Eleanor (48) and their youngest three children who were still at school, namely Frederick (16), Winifred (11), and Alfred (9), plus their 19-year-old servant. Maurice himself (18) was a teacher, paying an overnight visit with his aunt, Miss Mary A. Wilks (57), to the Empson sisters at 223 Cowley Road, Oxford. Maurice's sister Mary (24) was an assistant school teacher boarding at 22 Marlborough Road, Banbury.

Maurice was married in 1916:

  • In the second quarter of 1916 in Oxford, Maurice Betts Wilks married Dorothy Soundy.

They appear to have remained with Maurice's family at 134 Cowley Road and had one child, born around the time that Maurice was killed:

  • Dorothy Mary Eleanor Wilks (born in Oxford in 1916, reg. Headington district 3rd quarter).

Poppy In the First World War Maurice Betts Wilks served as a Serjeant in the 1st/4th Battalion of the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (Service No. 200081). He was killed in action in France on 23 July 1916 at the age of 23.

He has no known grave, but is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 10A and 10D), and on the St Peter-in-the-East Church war memorial, which is now on the wall of Balliol College Archives (the former St Cross Church).

His effects came to £188 19s. 5d., and his executor was his widow Dorothy.


After the war

Maurice's widow

  • Mrs Dorothy Wilks, née Soundy married Maurice's brother Frederick Oliver Wilks in Oxford near the beginning of 1923. (As a result of the war, the law forbidding marriage to a deceased brother's widow had changed in 1921.) Frederick had been appointed a Second Division Clerk to the Ministry of Labour in 1920, and he and Dorothy settled in London, where they had two children: Peter F. Wilks (born in the Kingston district in 1923) and Olive C. Wilks (born in the Hendon district in 1926). When Frederick was awarded the MBE in 1956 he was a Grade 4 Officer in the Ministry of Labour & National Service. Mrs Dorothy Wilks died at 19 Crown Lane, Benson, Oxfordshire on 21 September 1982, and whose effects came to £8,393.

Maurice's daughter

  • Dorothy Mary Eleanor Wilks (born 1916) married Gorden Attwell Loch in the Cathedral Church of St George-the-Martyr in Palestine on 3 August 1940. He was killed in action in the western desert on 11 April 1941 aged 27. Mrs Dorothy Loch married her second husband Samuel Vallis McCoy in India and they had three children. She died in 2002.

Maurice's parents

  • Eleanor Wilks died at 283 Iffley Road, Oxford on 27 June 1930 at the age of 67. Her effects came to £317 14s. 11d., and her husband was her executor.
  • Frederick Henry Wilks continued to work as a bank manager in Oxford. He died at 283 Iffley Road at the age of 83 on 16 March 1944. His effects came to £3,869 6s. 8d., and his executors were his son Frederick and his daughter Mary (now Mrs Hancock).

See also

© Stephanie Jenkins

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