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Friday, 26 August 2016

The Sad Story of Edward Stewart Ingram Smith - Surname Saturday

Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923) the paternal grandfather of my cousin Stuart,  is the focus of this third part of the Smith story.  He was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In this photograph of him as a 20 year old young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him. 

This profile is the third in a series of posts on the Smith family who hailed originally from  the island of Unst in the Shetlands - the most northerly part of the British Isles.  In a number of moves and facing bankruptcy along the way, great grandfather James Ingram Smith settled  in the famous  seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire.

Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.   His Ingram middle name came from  that of the Shetland minister who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths. 

In his early childhood, Edward experienced several moves across country  as his father's hotel businesses failed.   In 1881 the family (now with six children) was in Aberdeen where his father was butler at Skene House

Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father  wore the kilt until he was 17 years old, played the bagpipes and spoke Gaelic  He enjoyed art and painted in oils.  He was well educated  in Edinburgh and spoke with a soft lilting accent  and used to say that Edinburgh people spoke the best English.

Leaving school, Edward joined the army as a  Gordon Highlander, but did not settle and was bought out by his parents. 

By the time of the 1891 census, 20 year old Edward was  in Leeds where his father John  was manager at the Victoria Hotel.  Edward's occupation was listed as photographer. 

A further move by the family followed, as by 1901  Edward was working as a waiter at the Belvedere Hotel, South Promenade, Blackpool.    

His daughter recalled that Edward was brought up in the Scottish Presbyterian Church but  converted to Catholicism for his first girl friend, without actually practising in the faith.  In 1902 in Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool,  Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior. (below)  

Four children were born to the marriage - Lily Ella, Arthur Stuart Ingram, Edith Florence and baby Edward who did not survive infancy.   Edward's interest in photographer is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children - son Arthur, with his mop of long fair curls,  and in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit
Ella, Edith and Arthur

Left - Edith Smith (1910-1982), dressed a snowball for a fancy dress event at Blackpool. Arthur (1906-1979)   and far right Ella (1904-2003) with her teddy. 

In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but illness struck and Edward had to give it up.   He moved into upholstery, and eventually  opened up a furniture  business in Blackpool.

In 1915 at the age of 44, Edward, as a previously serving soldier,  was called up to return to the army  and he joined   the Liverpool Scottish Regiment.  He served  in France, but was gassed and injured at the Battle of the  Somme. After the Battle of Delville Wood, where he was wounded in action, he was invalided back to England and hospitalised.   His daughter Ella related how   he went to meet her  at the school gates and she did not recognize him, as his weight had dropped from 15 to 9

But  family  life proved unhappy following Edward's  discharge. His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and childrenA news item  of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  made sad reading:

One cannot  help reflect that having to return to active service at the age of 44 and face the harsh physical and mental conditions of the World War One battlefields took its toll on Edward, as on so many soldiers.   He died in 1923 aged 52.    His wife Lily survived him by a further 40 years and married for a second time.  

The photograph below shows an older Edward Stuart Ingram Smith with haunting eyes and a dispirited air - a  far cry from the handsome young man of thirty years earlier.  

In Case You Missed:
An Island Family - the  Smiths of Unst,  Shetland
John Ingram Smith - From Butler to Bankruptcy                                 

Surname Saturday is one of many daily prompts from Geneabloggers  encouraging bloggers to write about their family history 

The information on Edward's court appearance only came to light in preparing this blog post, and is included here with the permission of the Smith family.

I initially was looking for an item on Edward's war service and searched British Newspapers Online (included in my FindMyPast subscription), it is an extensive  resource that features many small local newspapers besides the national titles.  You can also access the  collection on the GenesReunited website and at  British Newspapers Archive. 



  1. I've enjoyed meeting Edward and his family. So sad about the final 10 years of his life. I can't imagine the terrors of war. Seeing the fighting on TV shows us what happens, but it can't show us how it affects the minds and hearts of the fighters.

  2. Thank you for your sympathetic comment, Frances.


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