John EDWARDS was a engineer and millwright. This information is confirmed on all his children's marriage certificates, although he didn't live long enough to see any marry. Perhaps tellingly the older children described him as an engineer, while the younger ones, who would have been 8 and 4 described him as a millwright. 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.
In his son Enoch's marriage announcement, John is described as the late Mr. Edwards of Aston.
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 (FAWDRY). This baptism can be ruled out as Lucy mentions her deceased son John in her 1823 will.
But John may have been from outside Birmingham, indeed a compelling engineering related narrative might be correct (see John's father's record).
There is a will dated 1 Mar 1823, of a Mary EDWARDS, widow of Edwards EDWARDS, farmer. Mary died 29 Apr 1830 leaving her estate to her children Ann (wife of Ezra APPLEBY), John EDWARDS, Joseph EDWARDS and George EDWARDS. Her estate was situated in Saltley, Aston near Birmingham.
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:
- Nancy HARRISON, youngest daughter of Joseph HARRISON, on the Tues before 13 Dec 1813 Edgbaston (Aris's B'ham Gazette)
- Elizabeth BODEN 21 May 1815 Aston Juxta - Could not sign name.
- Mary DAVEN 16 May 1816 Aston Juxta
- Mary YARDBY 18 Oct 1818 Birmingham
- Elizabeth BEACH 13 Apr 1819 Birmingham - Could sign3
- 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 - Married John EDWARDS, millwright of Heneage Street. Both living in 1851.
- Nancy EVERTON 27 Sep 1820 Aston Juxta - Widower & widow - Could sign
Elizabeth STAKES 24 Dec 1820 Aston Juxta - probably a mistranscription of ...
- Elizabeth SLATER 24 Dec 1820 St Peter & St Paul, Aston6.
- 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 Edgbaston, Birmingham in 1824. Could sign.2. Witnesses Charles BROOKS & Lydia BROOKS (PAYTON) who had married in the same church three weeks earlier.
Jane MORRIS 3 Jul 1824 Birmingham - Married John EDWARDS, victualler.
- 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, Elizabeth BEACH or an Elizabeth from an earlier marriage.
An Elizabeth EDWARDS, wife of John EDWARDS, died in Aug 1826, aged 23, and was buried at St Mary's Cemetery, Birmingham on 15 Aug 1826 aged 234. This was most likely Elizabeth BASHFORD as Elizabeth BEACH could not have been born in 1803 and been married by banns in 1819. It may have been another Elizabeth who had married a John EDWARDS elsewhere.
Possible children from a first marriage:
- Eliza b. 19 Dec 1818 of John and Elizabeth EDWARDS, Digbeth, Iron Founder
- Sarah Ann c. 7 Sep 1822 by John and Elizabeth EDWARDS
- Sarah Anne b. 5 Jul 1826, St Martins, c. 19 July 1826 by John and Eliza EDWARDS at Lady H's Chapel, King Street, Birmingham
John b. 26 Dec 1827 by John and Eliza EDWARDS of Bristol Street, Surveyor. Too late.
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.
Other John EDWARDS
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.
Possible Genetic connection
A DNA relative of Paul Weaver has GG Grandparents called William Thomas and Gladys Ivy EDWARDS. William Thomas was born on 16 Mar 1895 (1939 Register) and was a cabinet maker.
William Thomas' parents were James and Eliza EDWARDS of Blackheath, Rowley Regis, Staffordshire. His eldest brother was called Enoch.
James EDWARD was a gas tube maker and born in Rowley Regis in about 1869 (1901 census). In 1891 he was working as labourer at the furnaces, living with his widowed mother Rosehannah EDWARDS b ~1837, a nail maker, and his wife Eliza and son Enoch. Also in the house were James' siblings Selina 16, Willie 14, and John 10. (1891 Census). James' father was Enoch EDWARDS, a carter, born in ~1836 in Rowley Regis (1881 census).
In 1871 Enoch EDWARDS, then a coal miner, was living with his wife Rosanna (PAYNE), daughters Mary A 14, a nailer, Emily 4 and James 2. (1871 Census). In 1861 he and 'Rosannah' were living in Blackheath with daughters Mary A and Amelia. (1861 Census) Enoch's father was John EDWARDS.
John EDWARDS was a coal miner, born in about 1805 in Cock Green, Rowley Regis, Staffordshire. In 1841, he was a coal miner living with his wife Hannah and 6 children in Blackheath. His children were William 16, Selina 15 (mother Hannah), Elizabeth 13, John 11, Joseph 8 and Enoch 6. In 1851 he was living in Blackheath with wife Elizabeth and son John 20, Joseph 18 and 'Enock' 14. (1851 Census)
John's parents may have been William and Mary EDWARDS, of Rowley Regis who baptized a John on 2 Jun 1805. Other children baptized include: Elizabeth 1794, Hannah 1796, Nancy, Joseph, Leah, John 1805, William, Thomas and Samuel 1813. William married Mary HACKITT in February 1794 in Rowley Regis. A burial of a William EDWARDS in Rowley Regis in 1830 gives his ages as 57, i.e., born in ~1773.
Despite the DNA connection and the name Enoch, there is no evidence of a recent connection between William Thomas EDWARDS' family and John EDWARDS, millwright of Birmingham. It is a coincidence that both families had a John EDWARDS who had a son, Enoch, born between 1836-1840.