Robert Edwards was born on the 11th March 1885 at Cheetham Hill, Salford in Lancashire.
His father, William Edwards a Groom and a Horse Keeper, was born in 1858 at Pendleton, Lancashire and married his mother, Margaret Dollemore, born in 1858 at St. Albans on the 27th March 1881 at St. Albans. They had nine children:
- William born 1881 at St. Albans.
- Margaret born 1883 at Pendleton, Lancashire.
- Robert Edwards.
- Celia born 1886 at Salford.
- Walter born 1887 at Crumpsall.
- Elizabeth born 1888 at Salford.
- Caroline born 1893 at Pendleton.
- Emma born 1891 died 1892 at Salford.
- Emma born 1895 at Salford.
In the 1881 census William and Margaret were living with her widowed mother at The Green, Tyttenhanger, St. Albans. By the time of the 1891 census they had moved to Lancashire and were living at Union Street, Pendleton, Salford. Sadly, it is believed that William died in 1896 at Chorlton and Margaret died in 1900 at Salford.
In the 1901 census Robert was lodging with the Ramsbottom family at 50, Harmsworth Street, Pendleton and was employed as a Finisher in a bleach works. Then he moved back to Hertfordshire and joined the Army.
Early Army Service.
Robert’s Army Service Record has survived and his Army Form E504 records that on the 7th September 1903 he enlisted at Watford as Private 4658 in the 4th Battalion, Bedfordshire Militia.
He stated he was born in Cheetham Hill, Manchester, Lancashire and that he was 18 years 6 month old. He gave his address as 17, Leavesden Road, Watford, (in 1901 and 1911 this was the home address of the North family and it is assumed Robert was boarding with them). He stated he was a Fishmonger’s Assistant and was employed by a Mr. Wilson of Leavesden Road, Watford. He was not an Apprentice, was not married, had never been sentenced to imprisonment and had never served in the Military before.
His description on enlistment was recorded as: Apparent age 18 years 6 months, height 5 feet 3 9/10 inches, weight 122 lbs., chest 34 ½ inches with 2 ½ inch expansion, complexion fresh, eyes blue, hair brown, distinctive marks heart and arrow tattoo right forearm, mole 3 ½ inches below right nipple. He had five bad teeth and three missing. He gave his next of kin as his brother William of the Naval Barracks, Devonport and his uncle Samuel Eames of Woodside, Hatfield.
On the 8th September he was Medically Examined at the Station Hospital, Bedford and deemed to be fit to serve in the Militia.
His Statement of Service records that he underwent 49 days drill on his enlistment then on the 31st October 1903 he joined the Bedfordshire Regiment.
His next Service Record has not survived but he would probably have enlisted for short service of seven years in the Colours and five in the Reserves.
Robert’s Police Service Record has not survived but from other sources we know he was Appointed as Constable 12 in the St. Albans City Police. He probably left the Army and immediately joined the Police, possibly on the 17th March 1910. Certainly, by the time of the 1911 census he was recorded as being a Police Constable and was living with his sister Elizabeth and her husband at 13, Dalton Street, St. Albans.
On the 21st September 1911 Constable Robert Edwards aged 25 and a bachelor of St. Albans, married at Paston Parish Church, Northamptonshire, Minnie Millen aged 21 and a spinster of Paston. In the 1911 census Minnie was living with her family at Oak Villa, Walton, Northamptonshire. Robert and Minnie had five children:
- Gladys Minnie born in 1912 at St. Albans.
- Eileen Eva born in 1915 at St. Albans.
- Robert Cecil born in 1916 at St. Albans.
- Dorothy born in 1924 at St. Albans.
- James A. born in 1926 at London Colney.
In the Electoral Rolls of 1914, 1915 and 1920 Robert is recorded as living at 38, Ladysmith Road, St. Albans.
Army Service During The War.
Robert’s Army Service Record has not survived but an account mentioned in a book, ‘Be Proud’ Hertfordshire and The Great War; An Anthology, in which the author John G.E. Cox wrote about how Hertfordshire heard that War had been declared. Using the Herts. Advertiser, dated the 8th August 1914 as his source he states: “For example, four St. Albans City Police Constables re-joined their regiments, PC Atkins to Dunbar to re-join the 1st King’s Dragoons; PC Edwards to Bedford to 1st Battalion, Bedfordshire Regiment; PC Thorpe to Chelsea Barracks to the Coldstream Guards; and PC Bass to Woolwich to the Royal Army Service Corps.”
There are no Medal Rolls or Medal Roll Index Cards which record that Robert was awarded any medals which indicates that he did not serve abroad. It is possible that as he was 39 years old, had previous Army Service and was approaching the end of his twelve years’ Army service he was made a Sergeant Drill Instructor, like a number of other Hertfordshire Police Officers who were in similar positions. This is supported by the fact that he had two of his children in 1915 and 1916.
Like every other soldier Philip would have been granted 28 days leave on his demobilisation and he would have used this time to arrange his re-joining of the Police. This would have entailed him having to undergo a medical examination to determine whether he was fit for Police duty. The end of his leave period would have coincided with his date of re-joining of the Police.
Re-joining The Police.
No record survives to show the exact date Philip re-joined the St. Albans City Police. However, during 1916 the Home Secretary decreed that the Hertford County Constabulary should take over the administration of the St. Albans City Police for the duration of the war. It is not known exactly when this was handed back but it does mean that a Hertford County Constabulary General Order, authorising a pay increase for Robert, has survived. General Order 79 of the 27th March 1919 states: “The undermentioned Constable will receive an increased rate of pay with effect as follows: PC 12 Edwards R. St. Albans City Police, from £2/10/0 to £2/11/0 per week from the 17th March 1919.” The date of the increase generally reflects the original date of Appointment.
The 1921 to 1925 Electoral Rolls show Robert and Minnie as living at Mountview, Union Lane (now Normandy Road), St. Albans.
Leaving The Police And Life Afterwards.
It is not known why or exactly when Robert left the St. Albans City Police but he does not appear in a photograph, taken in 1926, which shows the entire Force of 31 officers, and this put together with the family’s move to London Colney around 1926 would seem to suggest that is when he left.
The 1927 to 1930 Electoral Rolls show Robert and Minnie as living at Weyside, Whitehorse Lane, London Colney.
In the 1939 register Robert Edwards is recorded as being employed as an Automobile Association Patrolman and living with his family at Clairmont, White Horse Lane, London Colney.
Robert Edwards of 25, Temperance Street, St. Albans died on the 7th August 1952 at The Hospital, Napsbury, St. Albans.