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Edward Stanley Dawson


Edward Stanley Dawson was born on 29 July 1870. His parents were Richard Dawson and Elizabeth Dawson (neé Barnes), both of whom were teachers, as can be seen from the Census of 1871, eight months later. Richard and Elizabeth had married on 10 January 1854 in St Mary’s Church, Burnham Westgate, Norfolk, and at the time of the marriage Richard was already described as a ‘School Master’ from Christleton, Cheshire.

Early Life

By the time Edward was 10 years old, his father and mother, now in their 50’s, had given up teaching.  His father is described on the 1881 Census as a ‘Farmer of 72 acres’. The family were now living in Capenhurst and William Henry, the oldest son still living at home, was described as a ‘Farmer’s son’.

Chester College

Edward Stanley enrolled at Chester College in 1889. He studied there until 1891, when he qualified as a teacher. Ten years later at the age of 30 he is still described as a School Master and, at the time of the 1901 Census, he was a visitor at a school in the village of Elmley Lovett in the parish of St Michael's in Droitwich, Worcestershire.

Later the same year, Edward Stanley married Althea Evelyn Cheshire, the daughter of Alfred Cheshire, who was a tailor in Burnley, where the marriage took place. The following year, 1902, Edward changed career, becoming a Licensed Victualler (someone licensed to sell alcohol). He and Althea took over the running of Ye Olde Bear’s Paw, which was number 21 on the corner of Foregate and Frodsham Streets in Chester. He was still running the same public house at the time of the 1911 Census.

On 6 February 1908 at the age of 37, Edward was initiated into the United Grand Lodge as a Freemason. He joined the Clarence Lodge in Chester and his profession was given as Hotel Proprietor at the Bear’s Paw. He was certificated on 23 April 1909. He remained as a member until 1911.

On 4 January 1913, Althea died. At the time she was living at 5 Smithfield Road, Wrexham, and probate was granted to her father Alfred Cheshire on 29th April 1913.

Edward Stanley had possibly already travelled to Canada, having departed from Liverpool to Halifax Saint John, Canada on 1st March 1912 on a ship called The Virginian.

Military Service

Three years later, Edward Stanley enlisted with the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on 19 July 1915. He joined up in Edmonton, Canada. When asked if he had ever served in any military force, he replied that he had spent two years in the 1st Cheshire Regiment and Carnarvon Act. Volunteers, and also six weeks with the 101st E. Fusiliers.

A newspaper report in the Edmonton Bulletin after his death states the Edward Stanley had been a cashier for the local freight department of the G.T.P. for three years. On his enlistment form he gave his occupation as being a ‘Cashier’.

On 8 April 1916 Edward Stanley married Martha Jane Henderson. She was a widow, and she already had two children. Martha Jane’s husband in Ireland had been Samuel Lockhart Henderson, and her maiden name was also Henderson. When Samuel died, Martha Jane travelled to Canada with her son William, daughter Matilda Caroline Graham, son-in-law William Rankin Graham and grandson William Hamilton George Graham. They travelled from Ireland on board the vessel Tunisian arriving at Halifax, Nova Scotia on 13 April 1907.

Matilda Caroline predeceased her mother in 1925 and Martha Jane died in 1929. Having enlisted almost a year before his marriage, as the transcribed Service Records show, Edward Stanley sailed to England from Halifax, Saint John on the S.S. Matagama and arrived on 5 May 1916. This meant that Edward Stanley spent very little time with his new family after his marriage.

On 29 June he was attached to the 7th Battalion and on 15 July 1916 he joined his unit.

Lest We Forget

On 27 September 1916 Edward Stanley Dawson was killed in action. He was killed at the Battle of the Somme, which lasted for five months, with over a million casualities. The Canadian forces entered the Battle of the Somme on 30 August 1916 and took part in a number of bloody attacks from September to November, supported by the first tanks used on the Western Front. They captured a number of strategic objectives including Thiepval Ridge, Ancre Heights and Courcelette. It was possibly during the battle to capture Triepval Ridge, which was fought between 26 and 28 September, that Edward Stanley lost his life on 27 September 1916.

This newspaper report from the Edmonton Bulletin contains a letter from one of his comrades in which he describes how Edward Stanley was struck by a sniper’s bullet in the brain, which thankfully meant that his death was instantaneous.

On 28 November 1921 Edward Stanley’s wife Martha received a Memorial Plaque and Scroll and on 21 December 1921, a Memorial Cross.

The Edmonton Bulletin also describes how Edward had been killed in action. It states that he originated from 'Chester in England' and that he was the step-father of the Fire Chief. The fire chief would have been George Henderson, Martha Jane’s son. The article also states that in the short time Edward Stanley had lived in the city he had become very well known and had made many great friends.

Post Mortem

Edward Stanley Dawson, along with the other men who fought and died as members of the Canadian Terrestrial Forces at the Battle of the Somme and Vimy Ridge are remembered with Honour on the Vimy Memorial.