House History #4: Martha Baxter

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Martha Baxter owned and lived in this house from 1935 to at least 1945.

Born Martha Garratt in 1870 in the Parish of St Margaret, Leicester, she was the fifth child of John Garratt, a railway engine driver, and his wife Mary. In 1871, when Martha was six months old, the family were living at 25 Gartree Street, Leicester, a working-class neighbourhood in the centre of town. At the age of ten she was a student living with her family at 131 Kent Street. By 1891 she had become a teacher and living with her family at 90 Melbourne Road. Ten years later in the 1901 census she is thirty and still living with her parents and sister at 60 Melbourne Road. Her occupation then is listed as an Elementary School Teacher.

In 1902 she marries Campbell Hossack Baxter, a dentist from Grimsby, Lincolnshire four years her junior. They have three children: Campbell John Baxter, born 1903; Margaret Jean Baxter, born 1908; and Philip William Graham born in 1910. In 1911 the family are living in Leicester in a 10-room house opposite Victoria Park at 164 London Road with two servants, Amelia Ellerby and Eveline Grey.

The next twenty years are difficult to piece together, however by the early 1930s Martha and Campbell have moved to the village of Rothley just outside of Leicester. They live in a house called Glen Mona on Swithland Lane.  In 1932, Martha’s husband dies at the age of 58. He leaves an estate worth almost £14,000.

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On the 18th May 1935, the 65 year-old widow Martha Baxter purchases this house for £1000. She lives here for at least 10 years from 1935 to 1945. During those years her son, Philip William Graham Baxter, a doctor, marries in 1939 and is part of the Royal Army Medical Corps; her other son Campbell John goes to war (as far as I can tell at this point in the research); and her daughter Margaret Jean, after having lived in London in the 1930s, marries George F Pine (a Royal Navy seaman, later Captain) in 1939.

In 1945 Martha sells the house to her daughter-in-law Mary Elizabeth Baxter, the wife of her son Campbell John Baxter, for £1500. The reason for selling the house to her daughter-in-law rather than her son seems to be that Campbell John was a prisoner of war in Germany at this time, however I need to confirm that.

I don’t know whether Martha continued to live here with her son and daughter-in-law, she was 75 by then. Her son was to die here at the house seven years later. At some point Martha moves to London, living at 29 Sunnydale Gardens, Mill Hill, Edgeware NW7. Martha dies in 1963 at the age of 93, in Hendon, Middlesex.  She left effects of £3822. The executor of her will was her widowed daughter Margaret Jean Pine.

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4 thoughts on “House History #4: Martha Baxter

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