AGNES FOSTER 1889–1918
Photograph from family collection
Born: 5th February 1889 in Radcliffe on Trent
Baptised: 10th March 1889 at St Mary’s church, Radcliffe on Trent
Married: January 1911 to Charles Wightman Pike, law clerk
Children: Dorothy Mary (known as Mary) born 30.12.11, Richard Henry (known as Dick) born 15.4.13
Died 28th December 1918, during the influenza epidemic
Before the First World War
Agnes lived in Bolton Terrace, Radcliffe on Trent with her father Richard Foster, mother Louisa Dudley, three brothers and three sisters. She was the second child, her siblings being Charles R. born 1887, Edith born 1890, Owen Dudley born 1892, Mary Dudley born 1894, Florence born 1896 and Frank born 1897.
The Fosters had been butchers and cattle dealers for several generations and Richard, Agnes’s father, was a cattle dealer. Louisa, Agnes’s mother, was the step daughter of Thomas Kell, landlord of the Black Lion public house. After her marriage to Charles Wightman Pike in 1911, Agnes moved to Walnut Grove. However shortly after this date the couple moved to 13 Albert Street where Charles’s father owned a number of houses and his mother owned Lincoln House. Agnes was a teacher at Radcliffe school.
During the War
Charles enlisted in December 1915 but was not posted to France until January 1917, where he served with the Royal Garrison Artillery. Agnes’s brothers Owen and Frank also served.
Owen served as an officer with the Coldstream Guards and was in France from September 1915. Frank served with the Royal Field Artillery, arriving in France a month after Charles in 1917. Her sister Mary married another serviceman from Radcliffe at the end of 1917 – Lewis Scrimshaw, a flight sergeant with the R.A.F. Agnes continued working at the school; she taught in the Mixed Department. She corresponded with her husband while he was serving abroad. Although his letters to members of his family have survived, her letters to him have not. The only remaining letter from her still in existence, before her husband died, is one she wrote in June 1917 requesting information about her brother Frank:
Frank and Owen survived the war but Charles was killed on October 10th, 1917. Agnes wrote many letters to his commanding officer in an attempt to obtain more information, particularly regarding any last words. She even wrote to the sister on the ward. The letters from the officer can be read in the Letters section of this website. The story told to the children and passed down the family could not be true; the military records make that clear. To make the situation a little easier they were told that Charles had been injured and he was in a bed next to another Radcliffe man who had relayed a message to them from their father.
After the War
Agnes died from influenza in December 1918; she was still a schoolteacher. From the middle of November 1918 the school had only been open briefly due to the number of absent pupils and teachers suffering in the flu epidemic.
On her death, her sisters Edith and Florence looked after Mary. Dick was cared for by his paternal grandparents and aunt. The children were therefore separated and brought up by different sides of the family. Probate of Agnes’s will was granted 2.6.31: she left £717 18s 6p.