Saturday, 12 August 2017

Discovering a little bit more on a soldier buried in Southern Cemetery ............. Private William Ernest Edwards 1891-1918

Now I am fairly confident that there are no old pictures of Cottenham Street which once ran from Upper Brook Street to Mansfield Street.

Part of it still exists but sadly the houses which once flanked it and in particular number 55 have gone.

And that is a shame because they would be one of the only physical links I have to William Ernest Edwards.

He was born in 1891 and died in the Princess Street Hospital on November 22 1918.

I know that just before he enlisted he described his occupation as a “cashier,” that he was in the 16th Battalion of the Manchester’s and is buried in Southern Cemetery.

Other than that all we have are a few biographical details that have come from the census record.

He lived at Cottenham Street in Chorlton on Medlock from 1891 till at least 1911.  His father was a policeman who died sometime between 1901 and 1911 and on his death Mrs Edwards turned part of the family home over to a boarding house, renting out one of the five rooms to three lodgers.

And that is about it.  His elder brother had followed their father into the police force but according to David Harrop was drowned at sea.

And it is David who I have to thank for introducing me to Private Edwards after acquiring one of William’s war medals.

This was the British War medal issued to all men who fought in the Great War and it will form part of a new display in David’s permanent exhibition in the Remembrance Lodge at Southern Cemetery.

The collection includes memorabilia from both world wars and many of the items have a direct connection with Southern Cemetery.

And that connection extends beyond Private Edwards and includes his mother Hannah who was buried there in 1917 in the Non Conformist section of the cemetery.

That said I can’t exactly be sure at present of the date because there is another Hannah Edwards who was buried there in 1930.

But 1917 seems to fit given that Mrs Edwards and her some were both Non Conformists.
It is not much I know to stand for one man’s life but with more research and a dollop of luck more will come to light.

So a search of the directories for 1918 will confirm if she was still at 55 Cottenham Street and if not providing she hadn’t moved address this might anchor her death for 1917.

And a little has come to light about William’s father and brother. His father was born in 1863 and joined the City Police in 1885 and David his brother followed his father and joined in 1909.

Picture; headstone and British war medal  of Private Ernest Edwards 2015 from the collection of David Harrop

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