Edward Edwards the Builder

Of the Clock Tower in Machynlleth

Machynlleth Clock Tower (http://www.oldukphotos.com)

Cara Grant got in touch with me recently regarding her great grandmother, Mary Ellenor Rust (nee Edwards). Mary Ellenor was the daughter of Edward Edwards and Elizabeth Jones. The question being whether this Edward Edwards was the builder of the Machynlleth Clock Tower. The investigation began.

Edward Edwards, my grandaunt’s father-in-law, was born about 1845 in Machynlleth and died in 1890. We don’t know exactly when he was born as there are three possible birth registrations for an Edward Edwards around the same time and it is an expensive exercise to obtain birth certificates for everyone. However, Edward features in the 1851, 1861, 1871, and 1881 census returns, so we know that he was initially a joiner, like his father, and went on to become a builder, and that he lived in Maengwyn Street, Machynlleth.

According to an article in the Cambrian News and Merioneth Standard, the foundation stone for the Castlereagh Memorial Clock Tower was laid by Viscount Castlereagh on 15th July 1874. The grand opening of the Clock Tower took place on a rainy Thursday, 31st August, 1876, as documented in the Aberystwith Observer the following Saturday. Both of these articles mention Mr. Edward Edwards of Machynlleth being the Builder but nothing else of value about him.

Edward married Elizabeth Jones in 1865. She was from Bala, Merionethshire – although one census return has her coming from Liverpool. Not much was known about her, because of the difficulty in tracing her by name. However, in 1881 her sister, Gwen, was with the Edwards family in Machynlleth. From the 1891 census, her brother, a Calvanistic Minister, Cadwaladr Jones, was staying with the recently widowed Elizabeth. Finally, in 1901, there was another Cadwaladr Jones from Bala visiting, it turns out this was Elizabeth’s father. Elizabeth passed away in 1908.

The Family Notices of Y Goleuad for 25th November, 1908, contained the following:

Death notice for Elizabeth Edwards

Which (roughly) translates to:

DEATHS
Edwards.– Thursday night, November 19, after a long illness, Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards, widow of the late Mr. Edward Edwards, Builder, Machynlleth, and sister of the Reverend C. Jones, Salem, Meifiod, aged 65. She left 6 sons and 3 daughters to mourn her.

It’s interesting to note that Edward Edwards was referred to as a Builder and not an Adeiladwr. Funny people these Welsh!

In the 1891 census for Machynlleth, a few months after Edward Edwards died, there are only three people of the same name and the right sort of age listed and none is a builder. All this information convinces me, and Cara, that our relative was indeed the Edward Edwards responsible for building the Machynlleth Clock Tower – unless, of course, you know differently…

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