The Mystery of Edwin Owen

A long, long time ago, when my family history research was in its infancy, I came across one of those pieces that don’t seem to fit the puzzle. Now, thanks to a reply from Emma, it is a mystery no more.

Compton Bridge House, 2019.

Here is an extract: “… believe we are related! Edward Evans (and Susannah Hyde) ‘s son, Edward Owen Evans is my Great grandfather, with Edward Owen and Edith Jane Wilkes having my Grandad … “

But let’s begin at the beginning.

1901 England Census. Edwin Owen, canal boatman, at Canal Bridge, Compton.

Back then I was not so battle-hardened as I am now, and this became a mystery. How could a son of Susannah Evans, my great great grandmother, have the surname Owen? Why did the enumerator not write “Edwin Owen ditto” as he did for Mary (4th line down).

From the 1891 census, and other records, I knew that Susannah had a son named Edward (after his father), but he was listed as being 18, so ten years on should have been 28, not 24. Although I had found nothing to support the idea, I assumed that he was away from home, possibly married with children, plying his trade somewhere on the cut. Possibly deceased. The 1911 Census has Susannah and household at 3 Compton Bridge, but there was no Edward or Edwin.

After that I moved on to other branches of the tree. I had not thought that Edward and Edwin Owen were the same man, until Emma’s message.

Where does this lead?

Well, it opens up a new set of distant relations, but it also clears up the mystery, and draws out one of those coincidences.

Edward Owen Evans (I checked birth records, etc.) married, as Emma points out, Edith Jane Wilkes. It turns out that in 1901 Edith was a servant in the same household as a publican on Henwood Lane, Tettenhall, now Henwood Road. The pub is not named. His name seemed a shade odd: Hoope Till. I searched old trade directories and maps, but only found out the name of the pub by finding Hope Till (via his wife Margaret A Till, not the Margarita in the 1891 census) at Oddfellows Hall, today the Oddfellows Arms, where Dad and I lunched after visiting the Bridge House. It is now thought that the Oddfellows was the scene of a wedding party that Dad attended as a young lad.

The 1911 census finds Edward and Edith, with three small children at 10 Canal Side, Compton. The cover page has “Bridgnorth Road” struck through. Evidently, this must have been close to the canal, but old maps don’t really help identify the precise location.

Compton, Wolverhampton. Ordnance Survey, revised 1913, published 1920. With the permission of the National Library of Scotland. Locations: Red = Oddfellows Arms, blue = Bridge House, orange = Henwood Lane / Road.

Edward was a canal boatman (canal), sand carrier, worker, so presumably not owning the boat he worked on?

Lichfield Mercury 8 October 1886 p7 col1

AFTER THE RACES. — At the County Petty Sessions on Monday, seven charges of being drunk and disorderly and other offences arising out of the Compton Races were heard. — Edward Smith (22), fishmonger of Dunstall Lane, was charged with the larceny of 1s. by “ringing the changes” at the house of H. Till, the Oddfellows’ Hall Inn, Compton, on the first race night. — It was shown that the prisoner tendered shilling for a quart of ale, and received sixpence change. He then protested that he had given the waiter a two-shilling piece, and was supported in his statement by a number of companions. In order to quieten them a shilling was given to the prisoner as change. — The case was remanded for a week for the attendance of a witness.

Apologies to Charles Dickens for the title.

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