Name: Henry Frederick Edgecumbe Edwardes
DoB: December 21 1878
Regt: Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
DoD: Feb 6 1917
Other: Our only Teacher!
Henry was one of five children born to Edgecumbe Ferguson Edwardes and his wife Emily Yair nee Dobson. All the Edwardes family had the name Edgecumbe as one of their Christian names even the girls! The family moved around constantly so have been difficult to trace. Henry and one sister were born in Kent. His other three siblings were born at Windlesham and Kensington. The family eventually settled at Crediton, Devon. His father was a solicitor, born in India where his father was Physician General for H.M. Bombay Army. Henry’s paternal grandmother, Margueretta Leslie was born “at sea off Malta“; her family probably came from Scotland The Dobsons were more settled, having lived in the Selby area of Yorkshire for at least two generations. Emily’s brother was a captain in the army and his wife was born in Quebec.
Henry attended Crediton Grammar School, and followed in his father’s footsteps by attending Cambridge University, although he went to St. John’s College whereas his father had been at Trinity College. He gained his BA in 1900. He then became a languages teacher, firstly at Carlisle Grammar School, then at Coatham School, at a school in Paris, at Shrewsbury School, Kimberley Boys High School, South Africa, Wakefield Grammar School and University College School, London.
Henry enlisted on October 6 1914 in the Royal Fusiliers. He went to France over a year later on November 14 1915 as part of the British Expeditionary Force and was there for four months before returning to England to attend cadet school. He was given his commission as a second lieutenant in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry on July 6 1916. On enlistment he was described as 5ft 11″ tall, weighing 154lb, with brown hair and blue eyes. He died in a raid on enemy trenches eight months after receiving his commission, and is buried at Bethune Town Cemetery, France. The raid took 20 minutes and only two men died.
Royal Fusiliers (Oct 1914 – July 1916) Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry (July 1916- Feb 1917)
Two of Henry’s sisters died unmarried and the third sister was unmarried aged 40. Henry’s only brother, Francis Edgecumbe Edwardes, was a master at Harrow School for nearly 20 years. He taught mathematics and science. Francis was the executor of Henry’s will, Henry left his £485 7s 6d to be shared equally between his three sisters.
In Henry’s file at the National Archives there is a letter from Miss M. Greenwood dated October 4 1917 it says
I should esteem it a favour if you could let me know the whereabouts of Henry Frederick Edgecumbe Edwards (Lt) of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry as my letters do not appear to be reaching him”
She was sent a reply two weeks later which started “I regret to inform you…….”
Whoever she was she can’t have known his family but at least she was not left wondering what had happened to him.
His death was reported in the Western Times Newspaper on the 17th February 1917 – “Second Lieut, Henry F.E. Edwardes, of the D.C.L.I who has been killed in action, was the younger son of Mr and Mrs Edgecumbe Edwardes of Crediton“.
The family had the following Latin inscription put on his gravestone ” Non Nobis Solum” which translates as “not for ourselves alone“
www.Ancestry.co.uk (Probate Calendar & Cambridge University Alumni)
1851:HO107/2351PN268 & 1857
National Archives Kew: WO339/60342 & WO95/1577
CGS Memorial Register