ATTEMPTED MURDER AND SUICIDE BY A MAGISTRATE.
Alexander Wilson Edwards was born in Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire, he was baptised on 26 September at March Independent Chapel, Newcastle Under Lyme, his father was Thomas Edwards and his mother was Hannah Wilson.
On 20 June 1849 he married Elizabeth Owen at St Giles. Alexander was a bachelor, he was a cabinet maker, and his father was Thomas Edwards an upholsterer.
Elizabeth was a spinster and a “gentlewoman” her father was William Owen an upholsterer.
William Edwards had died in 1844 aged 73. In his will dated 26 April he only names his 2 daughters Hannah and Elizabeth. He leaves his property to them to share and also states that “ my said daughters should enjoy my personal estate free from all marital control and free from the debts and engagements of any husband they might marry “. He left under £4000, and as at that time there were tax bands then it was between £3000 and £4000. In today’s worth that means William was extremely wealthy.
In 1851 the couple were living in Chester Street, Alexander was an upholsterer and cabinet maker employing 9 men and 3 apprentices so had quite a good business. He was a known dissenter.
By 1861 they had moved to Grove Road, he seems to have given up the upholstery business and was a “Proprietor of houses with shares in railways” Over the years Alexander was a magistrate and also on the Board of Guardians. At one time his brother Samuel and his wife Eleanor were staying there.
They remained at High Grove, Grove Road, and by 1881 his status was” Borough Magistrate. Income from Land House & Dividends”
In December 1882 Alexander received a presentation in honour of the work he had done for the Bible Class in the Chester Street Chapel. It was attended by many of the most prominent and well known people of Wrexham.
PRESENTATION TO MR A. W. EDWARDS. On Friday night week a gratifying presentation was made in the School-room of the Congregational Church, Chester-street. For upwards of 25 years the senior Bible class has been conducted by Mr A. Wilson Edwards, J.P., of High Grove, and in recognition of the ability of his teaching, no less than his amiability of disposition and kindness, it was decided by the present and past members of his class, to present him with a token of their esteem and regard. Accordingly, an energetic committee was formed and consisted of Messrs F. Allmand, chairman Robert Stobo, W. A. Fraser, and Wm. Heyward, Mr Ernest Allmand acting as treasurer, and Mr W. B Phillips as the secretary. The testimonial took the form of an address, which was beautifully illuminated by Mr James Orr Marples, of Liverpool, and was surmounted by a capital likeness of Mr Edwards. On Friday week the presentation was made, prior to which a tea was provided, to which the subscribers and several invited friends sat down. After tea a meeting was formed and Mr Frank Allmand presided, who opened the proceedings with a few well selected sentences, after which Mr James Cameron, in an excellent speech, presented the address, which ran as under.
To Alexander Wilson Edwards, Esq., J.P. We the undersigned, a few of the past and present members of the senior Bible class, which you have conducted for the last 25 years in connection with Chester-street Congregational Church, have sincere pleasure in taking this opportunity of expressing our great appreciation of the services rendered by you in that capacity for so long a period of time, and of the willing sacrifice you have made in voluntarily giving willing sacrifice you have made in voluntarily giving up the quiet rest of the Sabbath for our instruction. We are convinced that no mere words, however significant, can convey to your mind the deep sense of obligation which we all feel towards you for the earnest manner in which, week by week, the exposition of the Scriptures has been carried on in our midst, but we can all testify to the rare qualities which adorn your high character, to your scholarly attainments, and to the lucidity of thought which has been brought to the discussion of all the varied subjects claiming our attention in the study of Holy writ. Many of us, although our connection with your class has of necessity been severed, are still engaged in Sunday School work, and we look back with great gratification to the hours spent in the
past with so much pleasure and profit to us, and we hope with some slight benefit also to yourself. The “personnel” of the school has necessarily undergone many changes since the time your Bible class was first formed ,, but notwithstanding the changes that have taken place from time to time, you have always worked most harmoniously with the different officers and teachers, and the utmost cordiality has been invariably manifested in all your actions towards them. Trusting that you may be long spared to continue your career of usefulness to the advantage, not only of the church and congregation with which you have been officially connected for so long a term of years, but also to the town and district generally, and wishing Mrs Edwards and yourself much happiness and prosperity during the remaining portion of your lives, We remain yours very faithfully, W. Alexander, Ernest Allmand. Frank Allmand, James Brown, J. Cimeron, J. Cusworth, Wm. A. Fraser, J. P. Griffith, William Heyward, Edward Jones, Finley MacRea, J. McCall, William McCall Charles Munsie, H. New, A. B. Noble, Fred Owen, Richard Phillips, W. B. Phillips, James Stobo, John Stobo. Robert Stobo, Thomas Stobo, S. D. A. A. Stobo, James Y. Strachan, J. Sutherland, D. Thomas, J. B. Wakeford, W. H. Wright, and James D. Youde, Wrexham, Christmas, 1882. Mr Edwards then returned thanks, and speeches were delivered by the Rev. H. J. Haffer, Mr John Francis (superintendent of the Sunday School), Mr John Stobo, of Liverpool; Mr James Griffith, Mr Chas. Rocke, and others. Votes of thanks to the ladies and Chairman concluded the meeting.
Alexander carried on with his position of Magistrate and JP until in 1888 he sadly took his own life. The incident was reported in much detail in many newspapers.
Llangollen Advertiser 7 September 1888.
WREXHAM. ATTEMPTED MURDER AND SUICIDE BY A MAGISTRATE. A terrible tragedy was enacted on Sunday morning in a fashionable suburb of Wrexham, when a retired gentleman, named Mr. A. Wilson Edwards, a justice of the peace, brother of Mr. Edwards, J.P., Newcastle-upon-Tyne, attempted to murder one of his servants, and afterwards shot himself. The first intimation of the dreadful occurrence was given about seven o’clock by a female servant, who, scrambling over the spiked entrance to High Grove, a genteel entrance overlooking the park in which the Eisteddfod pavilion has been erected, rushed along Grove and Grosvenor roads, to the residence of Dr. Davies, shouting out that her master had shot the cook. After briefly obtaining such particulars as the horrified girl could give, Dr. Davies sent her to the County Buildings for a policeman, and Mr. Wilde, deputy chief constable, and Police-constable Roberts accompanied him to Mr Edwards’s house.
On arriving there they found the front entrance gate locked, and, climbing over this, Mr. Wilde and Dr. Davies made their way into the house and to Mr. Edwards’s bedroom, where they found that gentleman lying insensible on the floor, with a bullet wound in his right temple. Lying near him Mr. Wilde found a six-chambered revolver, and on examining it he ascertained that three chambers had recently been emptied, and that the other three were still loaded. Dr. Davies did what was possible for the unconscious gentleman. Mr. Wilde proceeded to the servants’ bedroom, where he discovered a woman named Mary Stevens, aged 40 years, lying, apparently lifeless, on the floor. She was placed in bed and efforts were made to restore consciousness, with a certain amount of success but pain and fright combined rendered her delirious, and her contortions made it impossible for the doctor to ascertain the precise nature of her injuries. From the statement of the housemaid Annie Smith who gave the alarm, it appears that about half-past six o’clock that morning Mr. Edwards entered the bedroom where she and Stevens were sleeping, carrying a revolver in his hand. Stevens sat up in bed and asked,” What’s the matter, master?” when he fired two shots at her both of which struck her in the body. He then went out of the room, and Smith, who had pulled the bedclothes over her head when she saw the revolver, jumped out of bed when she heard him leave.
Hastily dressing herself, she escaped from the house and ran, as already described, for a doctor and the police. Mrs. Edwards, an elderly lady of 70, who has been ailing for some time stated she noticed her husband come into her bedroom early that morning with a revolver and on her speaking to him to her horror he placed it against his temple and fired, the bullet piercing the skull. No adequate cause for this awful tragedy seems to have existed. It is true Mr. Edwards had been much depressed lately, and complained of money difficulties, but those would appear, from what can be ascertained, to have been more imaginary than real, and Dr. Davies states that when he saw Mr. Edwards on Saturday he seemed to have recovered from his recent depression.
Mr. Edwards occupied a prominent position in the town, and was highly respected by all sections of society, and the attempted murder and suicide have created the utmost consternation. He was a magistrate for the borough, a vice-chairman of Wrexham Board of Guardians, director of Wrexham Water works Company and Wrexham Gaslight Company, a member of the Free Library Committee, the Wrexham School Board, the Wrexham British Schools Committee, the Union Assessment Committee, and other public bodies.
The verdict was that Alexander committed suicide whilst suffering from temporary insanity.
The funeral was a private affair.
Alexander had made a will which was proved by Elizabeth on the 17 October 1888. He left a personal estate of £3198 5s 10d. Sadly Elizabeth died soon after on 11 November, she also had made a will, it was proved by Samuel Edwards the younger of Newcastle, upholsterer. He was Alexander’s nephew. Elizabeth left a personal estate of £7338 16s 8d which seems to indicate that she kept to her father’s wishes to “ enjoy my personal estate free from all marital control and free from the debts and engagements of any husband they might marry “.
Elizabeth was buried with her husband.
Researched by Annette Edwards, with help from Judy Roberts of Chirk. March 2019. Gravestone photographs – Graham Lloyd.
Grave ref: Wrexham Cemetery J-02728