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Wednesday 2 May 2018

Edward Smith’s Life in Portraits: "52 Ancestors" - Wk.18

"Close Up" is the theme of week 18 of Amy Johnson Crow's prompt series "52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks".  My focus is on my cousin's paternal grandfather Edward Stewart Ingram Smith (1871-1923).   The many portraits of him in the family's phonographic collection depict a sad tale, tracing his life from a handsome young man to a man haunted by his war experiences.  

 The Smith family hailed originally from  the island of Unst in the Shetlands - the most northerly part of the British Isles.  Edward was born in 1871 in Ceres, Fife,  Scotland, eldest son of John Ingram Smith and Isabella (Ella) Edward.  The Ingram middle name came from  that of the Shetland minister who had  baptized his  father - and was one adopted by future generations of Smiths.  

John  in a number of moves and facing bankruptcy along the way,  settled  finally in the famous  seaside resort of Blackpool in Lancashire where he became catering manager at the  Winter Gardens entertainment complex. 

Son, Edward was a man of many parts -  boy soldier,  waiter, photographer,  and upholsterer.   In these photographs of him as a young man, he has a sensitive and artistic air about him. 

Edward's daughter Ella  (who lived to the age of 99)  left notes relating how her father was proud of his Scottish heritage,  wore the kilt, 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. 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. At the age of 31, in 1902,
Edward married Lily Beatrice Jones, 13 years his junior. (below)  at Kirkham Registrar, near Blackpool, 

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 photography is illustrated in the many delightful portraits he took of his children, notably son Arthur, with his mop of long fair curls, and in a "little Lord Fauntleroy"  outfit. 
Ella, Edith and Arthur

In the 1911 census, Edward's occupation was still given as photographer, but he was affected by the chemical use, 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 stone. 
Edward is the figure on the far right of the he back row, 
standing slightly apart from his much younger colleagues. 

But  following Edward's  discharge, family  life proved unhappy.   His mother died in July 1919 and at some point, he separated from his wife and children.  A news item  of 24 November 1919 in "The Lancashire Evening Post"  (traced on FindMyPast) made sad reading, when he appeared in court charged with failing to support his family.

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 found happiness in a second marriage and survived Edward by a further 40 years.

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 portrayed thirty years earlier.  


 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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