Joshua Henry Edwards (1834 – 1904)

JoshuaEdwards_edited-1Joshua was born in early January 1834, the youngest child of Solomon and Sarah Edwards, at West Hatch in Somerset and is christened at the local church, St Andrew’s, on the sixteenth. Solomon Edwards was the local builder and mason and was also involved in several land deals as agent or proprietor.

Solomon died aged 73 on 20 December 1845 leaving the nine year old Joshua and his mother to fend for themselves. Joshua was at least six years younger than his siblings and by the 1851 census it is only Joshua and his widowed mother still together, now at the parsonage in nearby Staple Fitzpaine where she is the housekeeper.

The intervening ten years are marked by great change for Joshua. His mother died in 1857 and in 1861 we find him learning his trade in the retail world as a grocer’s assistant in Ipswich. He is at Robert Miller’s shop in the Buttermarket selling wines, spirits and groceries. It may seem odd that he’s so far from home but his fellow assistant is from Brighton so it can be guessed that Miller’s company is large and prestigious enough to attract workers from far and wide and that perhaps the parson at Staple Fitzpaine was able to sponsor him into the position.

It seems that Joshua does not return to Somerset, for in 1867 he is in Cockington, Devon getting married to Emma (née) Mortimore, a widow who had previously been married to Henry Kennedy. The couple have eight children over the next ten years and become proprietors of the Half Moon Inn on Lower Union Street in Torquay. His time there is not without incident, newspaper reports tell of a suspended license, drunkenness and a stabbing!

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In 1871 he becomes subject of a libel suit brought by his brother-in-law George Chalmers, husband of his sister Louisa. She had become convinced that George was having an affair and confronted him about it – the accounts of the case all say she had become “affected in the mind” with these “illusions” – and he had pushed and shaken her and told her to say no more. Louisa then visited her sister in London which is where Joshua got to hear of it. On the 7th of June 1871 Joshua addressed a postcard to “Mr George Chalmers, alias Blue Beard” – referencing the old French folk tale of a wife-murdering nobleman – on the reverse of which he wrote “Your unmanly conduct to my sister is known to me. It shall be known to the wold at large if you do not reform – you coward!”. George brought a case of libel and despite admitting to various assaults on his wife, including grabbing her by the throat and throwing a fish at her, he denied the affair and the jury found for him, awarding damages of £30!

A widower after 1891, Joshua remains proprietor of the Half Moon Inn until at least 1893 but by the time of the 1901 census he is retired and living with his daughter Beatrice and granddaughter Gwendoline at St. Margaret’s Terrace in St Marychurch, Torquay.

Joshua Died on 12 March 1904, aged 70 from chronic bronchitis leaving £2580 15s. 9d. in his will.

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