Agnes Lethem

Head of Cowbridge School, 1915 - 1923

By Geoffrey Cordingley

Agnes Stuart Lethem was born in the third quarter of 18801 in Ardwick, Manchester.  James Stuart, aged 36, her father, born in Edinburgh, was a printer & lithographer at the time and her mother was Emily, 34, from Manchester.  James and Emily were married in 1875 in Salford and continued to live in Manchester moving to at least two different addresses in Cheetham, North Manchester.

Agnes had a twin, Catherine G. and when the girls were born there were already four other girls in the family with Rosalind C. the oldest at 5 followed by Lilian C., 3, Emily Mary, 2 and Jane Effie, 1.  James must have been reasonably prosperous since he employed Sarah Holland, 25, from Birmingham as a cook and Alice Teed, 18, from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire as a nurse.  Alice would have worked hard with six girls under six years old.

By 1901 the family were living in eleven rooms at 76, Bignor Street in Cheetham just off Cheetham Hill Road.  At this time Agnes was an Assistant School Mistress at Grange Street School, Cheetham where she remained until 1910. Two of her sisters, Lilian C. and Emily Mary were also teachers.  Now James described himself as a mechanical engineer.  Catherine was a shorthand clerk and typist as was a seventh daughter, Dorothea.

In 1911 the family was in the same house but it was much less crowded since only Emily Mary and Agnes of the girls were still at home.  James was now an antique dealer working for himself whist both girls had graduated to become elementary school teachers working for the Corporation of Manchester.  Agnes had moved to Seymour Road Council School, Manchester in 1910.

On 1st April 1915 she was registered with Teachers Registration Council for £1 1s 0d (a guinea.)  Her registration number was 5987.

In April, 1915 Agnes moved to Hertford to be Headmistress at Cowbridge School.  She remained at the school until July, 1923 when she terminated her employment.  No reason was given and there is nothing to indicate where she went.

In 1939 she was retired and living at Flat At The Limes, High Street , Chailey R.D., Sussex.  Emily Mary Timperley born around 1878 was her house-keeper.

The village of Chailey is seven miles north of Lewes on A272, the Winchester to Canterberry road.

Agnes death was recorded in Lewes in the second quarter of 1951.  Her age was given as 70.


  1. The 1939 census lists Agnes as being born on 16th July 1886.  This is clearly an error as she appears in the 1881 census at the age of 0!  It seems reasonable to assume that her birth date was 16th July 1880 and that the ‘0’ was mis-transcribed as a ‘6’ when the 1939 register was transcribed.
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