St Mary's Churchyard
The Tudor Edwardes sisters and their family
A headstone in the churchyard, in the form of a maiden, is a memorial to two sisters.
The inscription on the front of the memorial, at the base, reads:
'In dear memory of Emmie Tudor Edwardes, nursing sister, SRN, who died November 13th 1928'
The inscription on the other face reads:
ihs RIP rock of ages
also Frances Tudor Edwardes, nursing sister, SRN, who died March 16th 1945.
The story of the sisters is a puzzle as there is no record of them in the England and Wales Index of Births, but we suspect they were the daughters of William Edwards and Margaret Francis of Clun in Shropshire.
Emmie Tudor Edwardes
We think Emmie may have been born Emma Edwards at Clun in Shropshire, to the west of Ludlow close to the Welsh border, about 1862.
In 1871 Emma was living with her father William, a farm bailiff, mother Margaret, and siblings Elizabeth, William, and Fanny the youngest, at Little Brompton Cottage adjacent to Little Brompton farmhouse.
In 1881 aged 19 she was still living with her parents in the parish of Castle Church in Staffordshire. Her brother William was then working for a brewery and her father was recorded as an unemployed farm bailiff.
Emma could not be found in the 1891 census, but the 1901 census records an Emmie Edwards, hospital nurse (not domestic), at Britannia Square in Worcester in the household of Jocelyn Jervis-White-Jervis, a Retired Navy Commander, born France, aged 72, suffering from paralysis.
Commander Jocelyn Jervis-White-Jervis RN, born 1828, died 8th March 1909 in the district of Steyning in Sussex, was well connected. He was the son of Irish born Sir Henry Meredyth Jervis-White-Jervis (1793-1869), 2nd baronet, Commander Royal Navy, and brother of Henry Jervis-White-Jervis a British Army Officer and Conservative MP.
The 1911 census records that Emma Edwards, a hospital nurse aged 39, had moved to Caramia, 8 Wish Road, Hove in Sussex. Living with her was her sister Fanny also a hospital nurse. Kelly's directory of 1911 lists Miss Tudor Edwardes (nurse) at the same address, so it seems likely that the sisters embellished their surname to further their careers in nursing.
State Registration of Nurses, following the British Nursing Act of 1919, started in 1923; Ethel Gordon Fenwick was the first name entered on the register.
The National Probate Calendar records Emmie latterly lived at St David's on the Wells Road in Great Malvern and that the Revd Newson, Rector of Guarlford, was an executor of her will.
There is a modern three bedroom house named St David's at 117 Wells Road, just south of the junction with Peachfield Road.
Frances Tudor Edwardes
We think Frances was born Fanny Edwards, Clun, Shropshire about 1866. In 1871 she was living with her parents; then in 1881 aged only 15 she was a domestic nurse in the household of Joseph Moss a railway contractor in Castle Church, the same town as her parents.
Following her father's death, the 1891 census records Fannie Edwards and her widowed mother Margaret 'living on own means' at South Claines on the edge of Worcester. Later the 1911 census records Fanny as a hospital nurse living with her sister in Hove.
It is not known what the sisters did during the Great War.
Their place and date of birth points to the sisters being the daughters of farm bailiff William Edwards (1831- 1887) and Margaret Francis (1833-1892) who married at Clun in Shropshire in 1854. Margaret's father Jeremiah was an agricultural labourer.
William and Margaret had four children Elizabeth, William, Emma and Fanny.
We have an inkling that the sisters' parents William and Margaret are buried in Guarlford churchyard next to their two youngest daughters; next to the sisters' grave is a large stone cross (see photo below) and the inscription on the pedestal reads:
In loving memory of William Edwards died 18th June 1887 aged 54 years 'Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him'.
Margaret beloved wife of the above died 25th September 1892 aged 58 years. 'Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.'
It is one of the larger memorials in the churchyard and must have been expensive, so perhaps it was jointly funded by the four children.
We do not know what the family's connection with Guarlford was. Possibly either William and Mary had followed their daughters who seem to have found employment in the Worcester area, or William found a farm bailiff position on a local estate.
In those days, nurses are likely to have frequently come into contact with the clergy through caring for and ministering to the sick and elderly.
Emma and Fanny Edwards had an elder sister Elizabeth and brother William. Elizabeth does not appear with her parents in the 1881 census so may have either died or married.
William Edwards (1860-1929) married Harriett Powell (1866-1943). They moved to Wem in Shropshire where he worked for a brewery company. Their many children were, William Vincent, Harry Sydney, Alice Lillian Allsop, George, Frank, Emily May, Charles Harold, Alfred Percy, and Walter James. So while Emmie and Frances never married, there may be descendants of their nephews and nieces. Two are mentioned below.
William Vincent Edwards
Eldest nephew William Vincent Edwards born Wem Shropshire in 1885 became an electrical engineer and emigrated to Canada where he married on 27th November 1918 at Welland, Ontario, Marjorie Challen White who was born Bristol 1899.
In 1924 the couple are recorded arriving at Liverpool from Quebec.
Harry Sydney Edwards
Rifleman 8493 Harry Sydney Edwards 2nd Bn the Rifle Brigade was killed in action on Sunday 9th May 1915 in Flanders, aged 28 years. He had originally enlisted in 1902 aged 15 years, giving his age as 17 years and 10 months. In 1911 he was a brewery worker like his father and in 1913 he worked as a labourer on the railway. He is remembered on the war memorial at Wem in Shropshire.
That is all we have been able to piece together, so far. If you can add to or correct this story please get in touch (see contact on home page).
References and sources
1. England and Wales Census
2. National Probate calendar
3. Index of births, marriages and deaths
4. Survey of inscriptions in Guarlford churchyard
5. Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Based on research by Angus and Rosemary McCulloch
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Last updated 18th January 2015