John EDWARDS was a millwright and engineer. This information is confirmed on both Enoch's and Matilda's marriage certificates, although he didn't live long enough to see either marry. According to Enoch (and the 1841 census) he was a millwright, while Matilda said engineer. His death certificate confirms that he was both.
A millwright and engineer at the beginning of the 19th century would have been responsible for the construction and maintenance of all the mechanical devices within a mill. This would include grinding cereals, brewers, manufacturing or any other endeavour. Millwrights tended to work on the moving parts while engineers would be more concerned with the steam engines that were increasingly replacing water, horse or human power. A millwright would have had to apprentice to a master millwright.
A family oral memory has it that John only spoke Welsh, however his marriages to women with English names suggests that this is not entirely accurate, but Welsh might have been his parents native tongue.
According to the 1841 census he was born between 1796 and 1801 in Warwickshire, however his 1844 death certificate gives an age of 49 suggesting a birth date of 1794/5.
A possible christening for John Edwards is on 31 Jan 1794 at St Martin, Birmingham, by John and Sarah Edwards. They also christened a daughter Sarah Ann on 29 Jun 1792, who died of 'decline' and was buried on 13 Nov 1792. There are other possible births for John so it not possible to confirm which, if any Birmingham birth is correct, especially as several John EDWARDS of the same age were active in Birmingham. Possible Birmingham baptisms include:
- 1791 by John and Mary
- 1792 by John and Sarah
- 1793 by Joseph and Sarah
- 1794 by John and Sarah
- 1798 by Benjamin and Sarah
- 1799 by George and Catharine
- 1799 John and Rebecca
- 1800 by John and Lucy
But John may have been from outside Birmingham, indeed a compelling engineering related narrative might be correct (see John's father's record).
John marriage to Sarah
John married Sarah REYNOLDS, born in Kinlet, Staffordshire, in January 1827, and they baptised their first child in December that year. At the time of this marriage, John was a widower. He also was unable to sign his own name, which is a surprise if an engineer and millwright.
John and Sarah had seven children between 1827 and 1840.
John's first wife
Possible first wives, assuming a local marriage 1815-1825, include:
- Elizabeth BODEN 21 May 1815 Aston Juxta - Could not sign name.
- Mary DAVEN 16 May 1816 Aston Juxta
- Mary YARDBY 18 Oct 1818 Birmingham
- Rebecca CLARKSON 25 Dec 1819 Birmingham - Could sign
- Roseanna CARR 30 May 1819 Handsworth - Could sign
- Lydia PENN(E)Y 6 Aug 1820 Harborne - Could sign
- Nancy EVERTON 27 Sep 1820 Aston Juxta - Widower & widow - Could sign
- Maria KEMP 17 Jun 1821 Harborne - Could sign
- Sarah MASON 4 Dec 1822 Birmingham - Could sign
- Sarah CARTER 15 Jul 1823 Birmingham - JE was a boot closer, father Joseph, underage, could sign
- Elizabeth BASHFORD 14 Jun 1824 St Martins, Birmingham in 1824. Could sign.2.
- Jane MORRIS 3 Jul 1824 Birmingham - Could sign
- Ann WHARTON 27 Dec 1824 Aston Juxta - Could sign
- Sarah RANCE 30 Dec 1824 Edgbaston
Where the above grooms were able to sign their name, it suggests that their were different John EDWARDS as John could not sign his name when he married Sarah REYNOLDS.
An Elizabeth EDWARDS wife of John EDWARDS of Markett Street died in 1824 and was buried in Saint Martin on 16 Apr 1824 aged 37. This was most likely Elizabeth BODEN, or an Elizabeth from an earlier marriage.
An Elizabeth EDWARDS wife of John EDWARDS died in Aug 1826 and was buried at St Mary's Cemetery, Birmingham on 15 Aug 1826 aged 23. This was most likely Elizabeth BASHFORD.
John died of consumption (tuberculosis) on 7 September 1844 at home at 1 Court, New Summer Street in the presence of his wife Sarah. He was buried in the Chapelry of St Paul, in the parish of St Martin, in Birmingham, on 15 September 1844.
Notes on other John EDWARDS in the area at that time:
- John EDWARDS in the building trade in Birmingham and active after John's death in 1844. He worked from 126 Heneage St and lived at No 30 "Bloomsbury cottage", Lupin street with wife Lydia PENNY of Knighton, Worcs.
- John EDWARDS, 44, Iron founder, of Summer Lane (where John's widow Sarah lived in 1851, and where John Parker's plating business was located). He was living with son John EDWARDS, pearl button maker, his wife Elizabeth, 44 and daughter Mary. Are the name, street and button making just coincidences or was this a cousin of John EDWARDS? A Mary HIGGINS, 82, living with them might be his mother-in-law.
- On 29 Jan 1827 notice was published in Aris's Gazette of the dissolution a partnership between John EDWARDS and Samuel COY, of Great Brooke-street, Stone Masons.