Lawrence Wilfred EDWARDS (1895–1917)
Oxford Journal Illustrated, 2 May 1917
Reproduced by kind permission of Oxfordshire
County Council, Oxfordshire History Centre
Parents and siblings
- Father: Robert Farthing EDWARDS: born in Kingston, Somerset in 1850 (reg. Taunton second quarter of 1850); died in Osney in March 1918
- Mother: Anne HOWE: born in Lydeard St Lawrence, Somerset in 1851/2; died in Osney on 8 December 1928
Lawrence’s parents were married in the Bedminster district in the third quarter of 1871. They had twelve children over a 27-year period (but the three shown in italic died in childhood):
- Richard Arthur Edwards: born in Bristol 1871 (reg. Bedminster fourth quarter)
- Fred Edwards: born in Bristol in 1873/4 (reg. Bedminster first quarter of 1874)
- Ernest Albert Edwards: born in Bristol in 1876 (reg. Bedminster second quarter)
- Ada Emily Edwards: born in Bristol in 1877/8 (reg. Bedminster first quarter of 1888)
- Selina Gertrude Edwards: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney in April/May 1880 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 20 June 1880; died aged 6 months in November 1880 (funeral at the church on the 28th)
- Robert Farthing Edwards I: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney in 1881 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 25 December; died aged 7 in April 1889 (funeral at the church on the 14th)
- Frank Edwards: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney in 1884 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 22 June
- Tom Howe Edwards: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney in 1886 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 22 August
- Elizabeth Mary Edwards: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney in 1888/9 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 31 March 1889; appears to have been baptised there a second time on 31 November the same year
- Robert Farthing Edwards II: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney in 1891 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 15 November
- Lawrence Wilfred Edwards: born at 72 Bridge Street, Oxford in 1895 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 28 April
- Aubrey Maurice Edwards: born at 47 Bridge Street Osney on 25 September 1898 and baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 20 November; died shortly after the baptism, as his death was registered in the fourth quarter of 1898
At the time of the 1871 census Lawrence’s parents, as yet unmarried, were both living at Kingston, Somerset: his father Robert (22) was still at home with his own parents at Alpha Cottages, and his mother Anne Howe (19) was on her own as the head of the household at Westhay House. A few months later they were married, evidently in haste, as their first child was born in the following quarter.
Lawrence’s parents lived in Bristol at the start of their marriage, but by the beginning of 1880 Lawrence’s father had become a GWR railway guard and they had moved to Osney with their first four children. The 1881 census shows them living at 47 Bridge Street with Richard (9), Fred (7), Ernest (5), and Ada (3) who were all at school. Their fifth child had died the previous year, and the sixth one was on the way.
They were still at 47 Bridge Street at the time of the 1891 census. Their eldest son Richard (19) had gone off to Ogmore Vale to work as a coal miner, and another child had died, so there were only six children at home. The eldest son remaining, Fred (17), was now a railway engine driver.
By the time of the 1901 census, the family had settled permanently at 49 Hill View Road. Four more children had been born since the last census, including Lawrence himself (6), but again only six were at home, as the new baby had already died, and two older sons who were working for the railway were boarding in other parts of the country: Fred (28) was a railway engine driver in Wolverhampton and Ernest (25) was a railway goods guard in Normanton. Lawrence’s sister Ada (23), who had married Frederick Mayling, was also visiting with her three-month-old daughter. Frank (16) was still at home and working as a railway porter, and Tom (15) was a brewer’s labourer. Edward Mayling (17), a carpenter’s apprentice and likely to be Ada’s brother-in-law, was boarding with the family.
The family were still at the same house in the 1911 census, and Lawrence (16) was working as a college servant. Three of his siblings were also still living at home: Elizabeth (22), who was a dressmaker; Tom (24), who was a railway porter; and Robert (19), who was a mechanic at the Electrical Light Station.
In the First World War Lawrence Wilfred Edwards served as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps (Service No. 23307). He worked at Eastleigh Hospital in Hampshire and on the hospital ship Lafranc. He was drowned on 17 April 1917 at the age of 22 when that ship was torpedoed while returning to Southampton from Le Havre.
He is remembered on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton.
He also has the special memorial (below) on the wall of St Frideswide’s Church:
A photograph of this memorial was published in Jackson’s Oxford Journal of 7 November 1917 with the following text:
A memorial tablet to the late Private Lawrence Edwards, R.A.M.C., and St. John Ambulance Brigade, who lost his life when the hospital ship Lafranc was torpedoed on April 17, has been erected in St. Frideswide’s Church, Osney. It was subscribed for by his comrades at Eastleigh Hospital, which he left only a few days before his death. The memorial was prepared at Eastleigh, and brought to Oxford by Lieut.-Colonel Twiss, R.A.M.C., who was present at the dedication on October 16.
Lawrence Edwards’s parents
- Robert Farthing Edwards (born 1850) died at the age of 68 at 49 Hill View Road in March 1918 and his funeral was at St Frideswide’s Church on the 28th.
- Annie Edwards (born 1851/2) died at the age of 75 at 49 Hill View Road on 8 December 1928 and her funeral was at St Frideswide’s Church on 12 December. There is a memorial to her in the church (right).
Some of Lawrence Edwards’s siblings
- Fred Edwards (born 1873/4) remained a bachelor until he was 49. He was still living at 49 Hill View Road on 25 June 1923 when he married the widow Mrs Eva Lilian Webb (43) of 14 Alexandra Road at St Frideswide’s Church.
- Ada Emily Edwards (born in 1877/8) married Frederick Mayling (20), a GWR fireman of 47 Alfred Street, at St Frideswide’s Church on 16 April 1900. She was then 22 and living at Bridge Street. At the time of the 1901 census she was at her parents’ house in Hill View Road with her three-month-old baby, Annie Elizabeth Mayling, who was baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 17 April 1901. Her next two children were also born in Oxford and baptised at St Frideswide’s, even though she was living elsewhere: Frederick (baptised 5 October 1908) while she was at Tyseley, and Lewis James, born 3 November and baptised 26 December 1915 while she was at 52 Hoorlock Road, Birmingham. The 1911 census shows the family at 41 Manor Farm Road, Greet, Birmingham.
- Tom Howe Edwards (born 1886) married Alice Irene Cockerill (23), a chambermaid of 26 West Street, at St Frideswide’s Church on 25 December 1917. He was then a 31-year-old GWR shunter. They lived at 24 Binsey Lane, and their first child, baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on Easter Eve 1920, was named Lawrence Wilfred Edwards, evidently after his dead uncle. Their next son, Kenneth Walter Edwards, was born on 18 March 1925 and baptised at the church on 17 May.
- Elizabeth Mary Edwards (born 1888/9) married Percival Joseph Green (24), an engineer of 45 Hill View Road, at St Frideswide’s Church on 23 December 1911. She was then a 22-year-old dressmaker of 49 Hill View Road. They lived at 24 Alexandra Road, and their daughter Annie Marguerite Green was baptised at St Frideswide’s Church on 13 November 1921.
- Robert Farthing Edwards (born 1891): there are records relating to him when he was 21 in 1913 in the Berkshire Record Office that suggest that he joined the police when he was 21: Q/APE/1/4/138=