Edith Frances Barker


Edith is a good example of the many single, middle class (and often middle aged) women who volunteered to serve as nurses with the Red Cross during the Great War. She belonged to a rich Liverpool family who had acquired their wealth by brewing. Her father, Richard, was born in Huyton in about 1829 and her mother, Emily, in Devonport in about 1834. Edith was the fifth of six children. She had three brothers and two sisters. In 1871 the family were living in Archway Road, Huyton and employed three servants. Richard employed 12 men and two boys at his brewery. By 1881 the family were living at 93 Park Road South in Claughton. All the boys were employed as clerks, probably in their father’s business. In 1901 Edith and her brother, George Guyse Barker, were living at Pen-y-Bryn Hall in Llangollen with a Mr. E.S.M. Barker, who had also been born in Huyton. Subsequently, Edith and George settled in Hoylake, firstly in Courtenay Road and then Valentia Road. The latter house had nine rooms and the two siblings employed a servant called Ellen McAuliffe who came from Ireland.

Edith joined the British Red Cross as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) nurse in February 1915 and went to Malta that November. After eight months she was invalided home with dysentery. She went to France in July 1917. Following a period of leave, she returned to France, apparently “in the best of health” on 5th March 1918, but was suddenly taken ill on 3rd April in St. Omer and died the same evening. It is not hard to imagine the possible causes of her premature death – perhaps her comfortable middle class existence before the war and her relatively advanced age made her vulnerable to the disease and unimaginable mental and physical strain associated with working in a military hospital on the Western Front. Her effects were valued at £1,855 9s 8d and passed to her brother George on 5th July 1918.

Recruitment Poster for the Voluntary Aid Detachment

Recruitment Poster for the Voluntary Aid Detachment


Birth: December 1868 In Huyton, Liverpool
Death: 3rd April 1918, died of illness aged 49
Addresses: “Pen-y-Bryn”, Courtenay Road, Hoylake (10 and 11), 9 Valentia Road, Hoylake (11 and 18)
Occupation: Lived off own means
Unit: 90th (Cheshire) Voluntary Aid Detachment. British Red Cross Society.
Rank: Nurse
Medals: ?
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, France: Longuenesse St Omer Souvenir Cemetery VI. B. 5
Sources: BR, DA, Prob., Census: 1871, 1881, 1901, 1911


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s