Friends of Hastings Cemetery

Edwin Smith & family

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Edwin Smith   died 24th August 1908 aged 76

Elizabeth Smith   died 27th May 1874 aged 42

Lily Elizabeth Winchester Youngest daughter died at Winnipeg Canada 6thAugust 1913

Mary Ann Smith, died 18th March 1924 aged 82

Edwin Smith, eldest son died 4th April 1932 aged 54

W. G. Smith, younger son, Lance Corporal 14th Winnipeg Rifles died in France 12th August 1918 aged 37

Edwin Smith was born in 1833 in Great Chart in Kent.  He first appeared on the Hastings Census in 1871 when he was living at 150 Alfred Road with his first wife Elizabeth, (born 1832 in Mountfield) and their 3 year old daughter Rosa Ann (born 1867 in Hastings).  He is listed as a ‘farmer of tolls’.  Before this he had been living in Aylesbury (1861 Census) with Elizabeth, and working as a collector of tolls.  According to his obituary in the Hastings Observer of 27th August 1908, he was the second largest toll lessee in England and Wales, holding as many as 200-300, as far north as Berwick upon Tweed.  (In the 19th century toll gates were leased by the government to speculators who then collected the income.)

He moved to Hastings in 1865 and lived in Clive Vale House. He was, in fact, instrumental in the development of the Clive Vale area.  By 1881 his life had changed somewhat.  Elizabeth died in 1874 and he had remarried.  He was living in Ashburnham House and running a furniture shop which employed 3 people.  His second wife, Mary Ann (born 1842 in Clayton, Sussex) and his four children, Rosa Ann, Lily Elizabeth (born 1877), Edwin (born 1878) and William (born 8th February 1881) lived with him.  All the children were born in Hastings. The family also had one servant.

In 1885 he was returned as a councillor for the All Saints Ward, but in 1888 he was defeated by A. Hutchings, although he later regained a seat on the council.  Also in 1888 he purchased East Cliff House where the family is recorded as living in the next two censuses, 1891 and 1901.  In 1901 the family remaining at East Cliff House comprised Edwin senior, Mary Ann, Edwin junior and William George.  William was now a watch and clockmaker and his brother a cabinet maker. Their father Edwin was still a furniture dealer.  Rosa Ann was living elsewhere in Hastings working as a grocer’s clerk (1901) and a book keeper (1911).  She died in Hove in 1966, having never married.

When Edwin died in 1908 his obituary listed his achievements for the town of Hastings. He was well-liked and respected in the Old Town, and had a reputation for being a level-headed businessman and councillor.  Flotsam and Jetsam said, ‘Uprightness and integrity were prominent traits in the character of Mr Smith.’  Although a Conservative, he often acted as an Independant on the Council, voting for what he believed to be good for the town.  He was a Harbour Commissioner and did good work for the East Sussex Fisheries, and took a prominent part in the construction of the big stone groyne at the east end of the town.  He was an originator of the project to purchase the East and West Hills for the town, and an active promoter of the West Hill Lift.  Indeed, he lost a lot of his own money in the first unsuccessful company to build the lift.  It was he who altered East Cliff House by demolishing the terrace which fronted it and built the large shop premises on the ground floor.

He was active right up to the end of his life, having been working in his shop on the day he died.  Only days before, in his capacity as chair of the local Fine Art and Furniture Dealers Association, he had led their annual outing and dinner to Hawkhurst.  His well-attended funeral was held at the Fisherman’s Church.

In 1901 Lily Elizabeth was living in Hailsham at a private school where she was listed as head (school) governess.

On 18th April 1903 William married Lilian Agnes Bosher at St Mary Star of the Sea in Hastings. She was born in Dulwich in 1883 but by 1901 the family were living at 282 Harold Road, Hastings.  Her father was a retired paper merchant and she had a brother Sidney and a sister Isobel.  The family had two servants.  Lilian was a piano teacher.  The couple’s address was given as L’Esperance, Harold Rd.  In 1911 she was living with her widowed mother, brother and sister at 41 Lower Park Road, and sadly it is recorded that she had had a child who had died.

At the same time William was living with his mother and her sister-in-law, Fanny Smith, at 383 Harold Road.  He listed his occupation as a furniture dealer.  At the time of his enlistment into the Canadian Army in 1915 in Winnipeg, his wife is listed as living in Catford, London.  The death notice in the Hastings Observer of 24th August 1918 said ‘Smith – seriously wounded in France on 11th August 1918, died on 12th, Lance Corporal William George Smith, Canadians, younger son of the late Edwin Smith and Mrs Smith of East Cliff House, All Saints and Rock-a-Nore, Hastings and the dearly loved husband of L. A. Smith (neé Bosher).

From the epitaph it is clear that Lily Elizabeth married someone called Winchester and emigrated to Canada prior to 1913.  Perhaps her brother William went to join her.  At any rate he was in Winnipeg by 1915 when he joined the Canadian Infantry on 21st October 1915.  He is described as 5’ 9½’’ tall, of ruddy complexion and with fair hair and fair (sic) eyes.  He joined the 8th Battalion, Canadian Infantry and died in France on 12th August 1918.  He is buried in St Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.

His brother Edwin married Edith Kate Dunk in 1904 and by 1911 he was living with his parents-in-law, Joseph and Mary Ann Dunk at 16, Athelstan Road.  He was a self-employed cabinet maker.  Although he and Edith had been married for 7 years they had no children.

It has not been possible to trace a UK record of marriage for Lily, and unfortunately there are too many Smiths emigrating to Canada at this time to make for a positive identification for either brother or sister.  There is even another William George Smith from Hastings who enlisted in the Canadian Army, although in 1917.