Foulkes, Margaret Elizabeth (nee Hughes)

I found Margaret when searching the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database for anyone from Sandycroft, and with insights into the family history given by Chris Jones, we are able to tell her story.   Many thanks to Chris.

Margaret was born 1873 in Sandycroft, ((Mold) HAW/19/19), the daughter of John & Jane Hughes, the family were living at 4, Station Cottages, Saltney, Hawarden on the 1881 census.   Mother Jane, 29, was alone with the children on that census, she was described by the enumerator as a Sailor’s wife and had been born in Holywell, Flintshire.   Margaret. 8, was a scholar and sister, Sarah, 5, like Margaret had been born in Sandycroft, Ann J, 3 and Richard, 1 had been born in Hawarden.

By the 1891 census the whole family had moved to 35, Chaucer St., Bootle, Liverpool, and John Hughes, 46 was now a Bargeboat Master, born in Llandudno, Carnarvonshire.   Wife Jane was now 40.   I think that the Enumerator made a mistake with Margaret’s name as she is referred to as Mary E., single and 18 years old.   Sarah, 15, Richard, 11, Alice, 3, and baby Charlotte made up the family.  The last 2 children had been born in Bootle, Liverpool.

Margaret’s father John must have died after the 1891 census as Jane remarries a Henry Lewis in West Derby in the June quarter of 1899 (W. Derby Vol. 8b, Page 538)

Margaret married William Foulkes on the 6th November 1895 at St. Leonard’s Church, Bootle.    A copy of their marriage certificate can be found on, which gives their address as 27, Blackburn Grove, Bootle.    William, 30, was a Seaman, as was his father John Foulkes.   Margaret Elizabeth was 22 and her father was John Hughes, also a Seaman.    Witnesses were Sarah Hughes, (Margaret’s sister) and Sarah’s future husband John Russell Adam. They married on the 27th December 1897 and they lived at the Hughes family home at 183, Rimrose Road, Bootle, William Foulkes being one of the witnesses.

The 1901 census on Family lists William & Margaret Elizabeth living at Cowper Street, Bootle.    William’s place of birth is given as Greenfield, Flintshire.   Also in the household was Margaret’s sister Sarah Adams (nee Hughes), now, sadly a widow, (John Russell Adams had died in 1900 age 26 years, (Civil Reg. Death Index Vol 8b, Page 243)), and her 1 year old son John L. Adams.  Visitors were Margaret’s other sister Ann Quirk (nee Hughes) and her husband John Quirk, born in the IOM, and their baby son Norman.

Margaret’s mother Jane, 49, and new husband Henry Lewis, 57, a Master Mariner who had been born in Northwich, Cheshire, were living at 183, Rimrose Road, Bootle-cum-Linacre,Lancs.  Jane’s children, Alice, 13, Charlotte, 12 and son John A. Hughes were all in the household.

The 1911 census again shows her mother Jane, 59, with her new husband, Henry Lewis, 68, but he was now a Furniture Dealer, Jane was assisting with the business, and no children had been born to them, but his mother Sarah Seville, 89 was living there as was step-daughter Lottie, (Charlotte Hughes),22, single.

By 1911, shows Margaret Elizabeth, 38, married and living at 45, Percy Street, Bootle.   There is no reference to William, who was probably at sea.   The census shows that no children had been born to Margaret & William.  Also in the household was Margaret’s sister Sarah Adams, her son Leonard Adams and her sister Anne’s son Norman Quirk.

It would appear that Margaret’s husband William Foulkes died sometime between the census of April 1911, when Margaret was listed as married and not widowed, and Margaret’s own death in May 1915.

There is the probate of Margaret, she was a widow, so perhaps that was why she chose her job :-Margaret Foulkes in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966. – FOULKES, Margaret of 64, Brook Road, Bootle, Lancashire Widow, died 7th May 1915 at sea.   Administration Liverpool, 23rd August to Jane LEWIS (Wife of Henry LEWIS),(Margaret’s mother).

Margaret step-father was still alive then, I believe he died in 1920 in West Derby Registration District. (Vol. 8b, Page 431)

At some point, either before or after her marriage Margaret joined the Mercantile Marine.

Taken from (

Listed on the Victualling Crew List of those who died

FOULKES, Mrs. Margaret Elizabeth (Margaret Elizabeth Hughes)  42    British Stewardess

On Friday 7th May 1915, Margaret, who was a Stewardess in the Mercantile Marine was aboard the RMS Lusitania when at 2.10pm in the afternoon, some 25 miles off the South Coast of Ireland the ship was sunk by a torpedo fired from U20 commanded by Kapitanleutant Walther Schwieger of the German Navy.

Two Bagillt sisters Ellen & Annie Crosby were also aboard and perished, please click on the link and read their stories on the Bagillt Pages.

Commonwealth War Graves Commission additional Information: –  Daughter of Jane Lewis (formerly Hughes), of 220, Marsh Lane, Bootle, Lancs, and the late John Hughes. Born at Sandycroft, Wales

Taken from the webpages :-

On May 1, 1915, the ship departed New York City bound for Liverpool. Unknown to her passengers but probably no secret to the Germans, almost all her hidden cargo consisted of munitions and contraband destined for the British war effort. As the fastest ship afloat, the luxurious liner felt secure in the belief she could easily outdistance any submarine. Nonetheless, the menace of submarine attack reduced her passenger list to only half her capacity.

On May 7, the ship neared the coast of Ireland. At 2:10 in the afternoon a torpedo fired by the German submarine U 20 slammed into her side. A mysterious second explosion ripped the liner apart. Chaos reigned. The ship listed so badly and quickly that lifeboats crashed into passengers crowded on deck, or dumped their loads into the water. Most passengers never had a chance. Within 18 minutes the giant ship slipped beneath the sea. One thousand one hundred nineteen of the 1,924 aboard died. The dead included 114 Americans.

Walter Schwieger was captain of the U-Boat that sank the Lusitania. He watched through his periscope as the torpedo exploded and noted the result in his log, “The ship stops immediately and heals over to starboard quickly, immersing simultaneously at the bow. It appears as if the ship were going to capsize very shortly. Great confusion is rife on board; the boats are made ready and some of them lowered into the water. In connection therewith great panic must have reigned; some boats, full to capacity are rushed from above, touch the water with either stem or stern first and founder immediately.”

In the ship’s nursery Alfred Vanderbilt, one of the world’s richest men, and playwright Carl Frohman tied life jackets to wicker “Moses baskets” holding infants in an attempt to save them from going down with the ship. The rising water carried the baskets off the ship but none survived the turbulence created as the ship sank to the bottom. The sea also claimed Vanderbilt and Frohman.

The sinking enraged American public opinion. The political fallout was immediate. President Wilson protested strongly to the Germans. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, a pacifist, resigned. In September, the Germans announced that passenger ships would be sunk only with prior warning and appropriate safeguards for passengers. However, the seeds of American animosity towards Germany were sown. Within two years America declared war.

References: Simpson, Colin, The Lusitania (1972); Hickey, Des & Smith, Gus, Seven Days to Disaster (1982).

Margaret’s body was never found.

Addendum:- Excerpts taken from the Liverpool website, many thanks to them.

Margaret engaged as a stewardess in the Stewards’ Department on board the Lusitania at Liverpool Pier Head on the morning of 17th April 1915 just before the liner left the River Mersey for the last time.   As a stewardess her monthly wage was £4-0s-0d.   It was not the first time that she had served on the vessel. 

There were 22 stewardesses on board when the vessel was struck, nine were saved and thirteen were lost.   Unfortunately Margaret Foulkes was one of those lost.   She was age 42.   

The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Mrs. Sarah Adams, who was obviously someway dependent on her sister.   This amounted to £13-0s-0d (£13) payable at the rate of £1-1s-8d (1.07) per month.

Addendum – Uboat U20.

WWI U-boats – U 20

Type    U 19

Shipyard          Kaiserliche Werft, Danzig (Werk 14)

Ordered           25 Nov 1910

Laid down      7 Nov 1911

Launched        18 Dec 1912

Commissioned            5 Aug 1913

Commanders :-

5 Aug 1913 – 15 Dec 1914     Kptlt. Otto Dröscher (Royal House Order of Hohenzollern)

16 Dec 1914 – 4 Nov 1916     Kptlt. Walther Schwieger (Pour le Mérite)

Career  7 patrols

1 Aug 1914     – 4 Nov 1916   III Flotilla

Successes        37 ships sunk with a total of 145,830 tons.

1 ship damaged with a total of 2,246 tons.

1 warship damaged with a total of 397 tons. (View ships hit by U 20)

Fate     4 Nov 1916 – Grounded at 5633N 0808E on the Danish coast and blown up by her crew the next day.

On 7 May, 1915 U 20 (Kptlt. Walther Schwieger) torpedoed the British liner RMS Lusitania. She sank in 18 minutes, taking 1195 lives with her, including 123 Americans. This sinking pushed the Americans slightly closer to declaring war on Germany, but that would not take place until April 1917.

There was another U 20 in World War Two – That boat was launched from its shipyard on 14 Jan 1936 and commissioned into the Kriegsmarine on 1 Feb 1936.


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