Samuel PIKE

Life story retold by Paul Beecroft

In loving memory of ANDREW WALKER PIKE aged two years the dearly

loved child of SAMUEL and JANE WALKER PIKE

died May 31st 1888 “He called a little child unto Him.”

Also SAMUEL PIKE father of the above 1847-1915.

“Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.”

Samuel PIKE was born in Peckham, Surrey. His parents were John PIKE (1807-1884), a Hop Merchant and Clarinda BILTON (1811-1885). Samuel’s headstone in Reading Old Cemetery states that he was born in 1847 but this appears to be incorrect, and he was actually born in 1846. On the 20th of January 1847 he was baptised at St. George the Martyr in Southwark, Surrey. His birth is recorded as being September 22nd 1846. The BMD (Births, Marriages and Deaths) website also shows him as being born in 1846. At the time of his birth the family were living at Gloucester Villa, Park Road, Peckham.

Samuel was the fourth son of John and Clarinda. His siblings included John Bilton (1834), Clara Maria (1835), Christopher (1837), Mary Viner (1838/39), Arthur (1840), Edith (1843) Edith (1843/44), Eleanor (1845), Matilda (1849) and Henry Roderick (1852). The census for both 1851 and 1861 shows that the family had servants residing at their home along with a resident Nurse. The 1861 census also confirms the family have moved to Caversham House in Brixton. This was a large house described as being an imposing neo-classical residence with portico entrance and stucco basement detail (front and rear view).

It is not known exactly when Samuel finished his education and moved into full time employment, but it appears that he followed in his father’s footsteps and became involved in the Hop trade, as did some of his brothers. In 1871 he is known to be in Ireland as during that year he married Anna Catherine Wray BOLSTER in Cork. Samuel appears to have remained in Ireland for about two years before moving back to England. Their marriage was to result in 5 children:-

Edith Catherine who was born in 1872 in Co. Down, Northern Ireland

Samuel Arthur John born in 1873 in Forest Hill, Kent

Harry Leonard born in 1874 in Blackheath, Kent

Douglas Reginald in 1876 in Blackheath, Kent

Anna Ruth in 1878 in Lewisham, Kent.

Exactly where they were living is not known but given the births of their children it does suggest somewhere in Kent and by this time his father John was also living in Blackheath, Kent with two of his sisters. His mother had died in 1865.

In December 1879, Samuel’s wife Anna died. She was buried on 31st December in Lewisham. Following her death Samuel is known to have moved the family to Walcot in Somerset. The census for 1881 shows Samuel residing at 19, Sion Hill in Walcot with his five children, a private governess, a cook, a housemaid and also Samuel’s sister Matilda who had not married.

Between they years of 1880 and 1902, although the census showed his occupation as that of a Hop Merchant he is also believed to have been a Beer Retailer with a premises at 50, Abbey Street in London.

On 28th April 1885, Samuel married Jane Walker AITKEN. How this marriage came about is unknown as it took place in the British Consulate in Geneva, Switzerland. Little is known about Jane other than the fact she was the daughter of Andrew AITKEN, a very successful Tea Merchant from Scotland who was present at the wedding.

Following the wedding, Samuel and Jane returned to England and moved to Reading residing at ‘St. Clair’ 13, Tilehurst Road. The house was described as a commodious residence with large grounds consisting of eight bedrooms, dressing room,, lounge hall, large drawing room, dining room, morning room, domestic offices and well laid out grounds with a tennis lawn, stabling, conservatories and a vinery.

The marriage of Samuel and Jane resulted in three children:-

Andrew Walker born in 1886 in Reading

Samuel Aitken born in 1888 in Reading

Nanie Walker born in 1890 in Reading.

Sadly Andrew died in 1888 and as we know, he is buried in Reading Old Cemetery.

The census for 1891 shows all the family living at the address along with two servants. His occupation is still shown as a Hop Merchant.

Samuel and Jane soon became involved in local organisations and charities. Jane was a member of the Reading Branch of The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Meetings were often held at St. Clair, and she helped raise a considerable amount of money for the society. Both Samuel and Jane were religious and were involved with the Young Men’s Christian Association, the British and Foreign Bible Society and the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church. Samuel and Jane also had concerns for children and the poor. In 1885, the first report of the Royal Commission inquiring into the condition of the homes of the working classes had been presented to Parliament dealing with the laws in respect of the overcrowding that exists in the metropolis and certain provincial towns. Samuel gave evidence as to Dorset and parts of the adjacent counties. He described the sanitary conditions of cottages as very defective and some cottages having no stairs and only a ladder by which to get to the upper floors. He also mentioned a case of a family of eleven occupying just two small rooms. Both Samuel and Jane was also a member of the Reading Branch of the Parents’ National Educational Union which had been formed to promote the education of children. Meetings were sometimes held at St. Clair involving between 70 and 80 persons. In 1903 Samuel was elected as an Annual Governor of the University College. He also subscribed and donated to the Reading Children’s Holiday Camp Fund.

Samuel also had a number of hobbies. He enjoyed fishing and owned what is described as a railway carriage that was situated near the river at Goring where he would spend time. On one occasion in 1896 the carriage was broken into by two boys who ended up damaging the fishing tackle after using it to go fishing themselves. They were taken to court and were each fined 2s. 6d & 8s. 3d. costs each.

Samuel also loved dogs. He is known to have owned a dog called Sylvia, but the breed is not mentioned. On the 12th of July 1905 the very first open show of the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Canine Association held a dog show at the Cattle Market in Reading. Samuel entered Sylvia in the Local, any variety (25lbs and under) Open Dog or Bitch. Although he was not in the first three places Sylvia was awarded a v.h.c. (very highly commended).

His greatest hobby though was birds in the form of canaries and finches. He was a member of the Reading and District Cage Bird Society and the East Reading and District Fanciers’ Association. Samuel regularly exhibited his birds at the annual shows and won many times showing his Yorkshire canaries and would often win first, second and third prize in various categories. He bred his own birds, and the excess were often advertised for sale at prices equivalent to £80 in today’s money for a pair. In 1911 he was elected on to the committee of the Reading and District Cage Bird Society.

Also in 1911, at the annual show of the Reading and District Cage Bird Society a new winners cup came into being known as the ‘S. Pike Cup’  or ‘Challenge Cup’ which was Awarded to the person obtaining the most points in the British and Foreign Class. This continued on an annual basis. In 1914, again at the annual show he also presented a rose bowl for the best amateur or novice. This presentation took place in the month of November and less than two months later Samuel passed away at his home on 8th January 1915. He was 68 years old. His funeral took place at Reading Cemetery on Tuesday 12th January.

Samuel left an estate valued at £19,401 17s 4d which in today’s terms is over £1m.

Jane passed away on 10th June 1934 in the Hotel Suisse, Montreux, Switzerland at the age of 76.

Section 27, Row A, Plot 13