Edwin Herbert Rhodes was baptised plain Edwin Rhodes on 4th September 1833 at Astbury, Congleton, Cheshire. He was the first of ten children born to Joseph Rhodes (born 12 November 1802 and baptised/christened on 5 December 1802 in Wolstanton, Staffordshire). Joseph Rhodes was a saddler by trade, and his wife Sarah (nee Buckley). Joseph and Sarah had married on the 7th May 1832.
By 1837 the family had moved to Hospital Street in Nantwich, Cheshire but during the late 1840's they moved to High Street, Nantwich where Joseph continued his trade; later records show it was No.18 which was previously The Griffin Inn (and in 2011 a dry cleaners).
Census records for 1851 show that Edwin followed his father and became a saddler.
The arrival of the railway in Nantwich in 1858 must have had an impact on trade as during 1859 Edwin's father was declared bankrupt (ref. London Gazette April 12 1859). Perhaps this helps to explain why Edwin moved away from the saddlery business within a few short years.
Census records for 1861 show that Edwin was still a saddler.
In 1868 Edwin's father died; however the family remained at High Street, Nantwich.
In 1871 Edwin's occupation was listed as a photographer instead of as a saddler.
He was also a jeweller, bookseller and stationer.
On the 1st January 1873 Edwin married Eliza Lloyd in Sissinghurst, Kent. Why they married so far away when she was born relatively local to Nantwich is unknown. The only tenuous link is that one of the witnesses (a local farmer) had someone staying with him (according to a census) who worked for the Civil Service, as did one of Eliza's sisters.
On their marriage certificate Edwin gives his occupation as 'jeweller' and, although no occupation was listed for Eliza, she was a well established lady, being the principal of a Ladies Seminary School at Churches Mansion, Nantwich.
Edwin Herbert Rhodes was in the photographic business in the same studio in Nantwich, Cheshire for nearly 20 years in the 1860s, 1870s and 1880s. He last advertised in trade directories in 1883.
Churches Mansion was a very old building as the Churche family had come from Leicestershire, and bought property in Hospital Street, Nantwich about the middle of the fifteenth century. The family prospered as merchants and bought other estates in Cheshire and Shropshire.
There had been a poultry show for a number of years in the mid to late Victorian Nantwich and the name E H Rhodes appeared as an organiser etc. (Ref. several editions of “The Journal of Horticulture and Cottage Gardener - later with the additional title “and Country Gentleman”) and he was well praised for his work. Both Edwin and his wife would have been well known in the town as Eliza ran a private school in one of the most notable buildings in Nantwich - Churches Mansion.
In the 1881 census Edwin is a 'stationer' living at Churches Mansion so it is most likely during the late 1870's that he turned his full attention to theological matters as his shop sold bibles and as he was heavily involved in the Wesleyan Church and the Bible Society. Local papers show the couple at many Wesleyan events in the area.
In 1888 Eliza had a serious rail accident in Crewe, Cheshire which resulted in a successful action against the London and North Western Railway. She lost her left leg for which she was awarded £1,000.
The couple continued to live in Churches Mansion until their deaths.
Edwin died on the 22nd August 1903 at the Haydock Lodge Asylum, Haydock, Lancashire (about half way between Manchester and Liverpool) after admitting himself as a private patient; he died of melancholia (senile) and exhaustion. His death was registered in Warrington district but he was buried in his home town of Nantwich in the Nantwich General Cemetery.
In his will (which he wrote in 1885 shortly after the death of his mother Sarah and his deaf and dumb sister Sarah Anne) Edwin states he has a share in a ship called the Jersey. It is presumed that he sold this well before his death in 1903 as he left only £80. 2s 2d.
Edwin's will read as follows:
'This is the last will and testament of me Edwin (H) Rhodes of Nantwich in the County of Chester made this fourth day of June in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and eighty five. I hereby revoke wills by me at any time thereof made. I appoint my wife Eliza Rhodes to be my executor and I direct that all my past debts and funeral and testamentary expenses shall be paid as soon as possible after my decease. I hereby give and bequeath unto to my wife Eliza Rhodes all of which I die possessed, one share in the steamship 'Jersey' £150-16-10 and any that may accrue to the same/ in Post Office Savings Bank Book debts stocks & household furniture & fittings & all in connection with my business carried out by me at 18 High Town Nantwich
Edwin (H) Rhodes - signed published and declared by the said testator as and for his last will and testament in presence of us who at his request in his presence and in presence of each other have hereunto subscribed our names as witnesses —John Walley — Edward Bowers'
Note - the Steamship 'Jersey', built by Palmers Jarrow, was launched on the 12th March 1883 and was owned by The Jersey Steamship Co. in Cardiff. She was sold in 1911 and renamed Trostan, she was sold again in 1926 and renamed Utklippan and finally was sunk in a collision during WW2 near Gedser Reef. Why Edwin had a share in this is not known but it is doubtful that he still had his share when he died due to the small amount of 'effects' left.
In a lengthy obituary in the Crewe & Nantwich Chronicle in 1903 (see below), Edwin is well remembered as a businessman in Nantwich and as an outstanding member of the Wesleyan Church, however there is no mention of him ever being a photographer.
Crewe and Nantwich Chronicle Saturday 29th August 1903
An Old Nantwich Tradesman
We regret to record the death of Mr. E H Rhodes who had been in business in Nantwich for the better part of half a century. Mr. Rhodes for many years occupied premises which are now merged in the establishment of Mr. Wm Johnson where he did a modest business as a fine art dealer and a bookseller. His place in High street came to be regarded as the Bible stores of Nantwich. Mr. Rhodes, who was at one time closely identified with the work in Nantwich and district of the British and foreign Bible Society, asserted very considerably as a tradesman in the dissemination of copies of the scriptures and hymnals. He retired from business a few months ago but in private life he was affected by the change and finally he became a patient in a private institution where, to the great regret of many residents of Nantwich, he breathed his last on Sunday.
Mr. Rhodes was a man who was intensely religious and earnest and he associated with his profession in those connections a character of very high integrity. For more than 40 years he was connected with the Wesleyan Sunday School as a teacher and superintendent and held office in the Wesleyan Church. The funeral took place at Nantwich on Wednesday afternoon; the cortege assembly at Church's mansion the late residence of the deceased. The principal mourners were the relatives and members of the Wesleyan Church. There were present at the graveside Mr. H Rhodes (brother) Messrs Lloyd and Mellor (Southport) Rev H. Sineinineer, Messrs Withinshaw, Howard, W J Dutton. G Evans, Lee, White, Parsonage, Kingston, Goodwin, Haywood, R Robinson, Pace, D Mason, E Steventon, H R Lloyd, Sleunett, J Millington, W Bowers, E Bowers, W Lee, Misses Goodwin, Barnett, Howard, Charlesworth, Parry, Dale, Howell, J Howell, Rouch?. The bearers were Messrs H Johnson, S Hilditch, R Steventon, Geo Robinson, G Lea and Afford. Wreaths were placed on the coffin from the officers and teachers at the Wesleyan Sunday School. Mr and Mrs. Davenport, Mr. and Mrs. Lea, Misses Howell, Misses Rouch? and Maskelyne and Mr. T Parsonage. Mr. Rhodes was in his 70th year.'
Eliza died in 1905 and her fascinating will contained details of her many relatives (but no children) and of her chattels. The will read as follows:
'This is the Last Will and Testament of me Eliza Rhodes of Churches Mansion Nantwich in the County of Chester made this twenty first day of day of September in the Year of Our Lord one thousand nine hundred and four. I hereby revoke all Wills by me at any time here to fore made. I appoint my niece Gertrude Lloyd my brother Richard Latham Lloyd and William Lea, Currier & Auctioneer, to be my executors and I direct that all my debts and funeral and testamentary expenses shall be paid as soon as possible after my decease. I hereby give and bequeath unto my brother William Lloyd the four leaved screen covered with scraps and the enlarged photo of his daughter Lizzie - My brother Thomas Lloyd the oil painting of Mow Cop and presentation book. My brother Joseph Lloyd my gold keyless watch spectacles eyeglasses and gold albert. My brother Hugh all that are left of school books school furniture drawing copies paints etc. My brother Richard Lloyd the cabinet and desk with drawers and mirror doors. My brother in law E Beckett Creasy the framed water colour painting of St de Galle painted screen with three leaves silver and glass epume and ivory nilska (netsuki?) - my nephew Llewellyn Lloyd the dressing case that once belonged to my uncle James Lloyd. My nephew Lubin the photo of Longfellow in gilt frame and his letters and facsimile of present my niece Mary L Brown the tortoiseshell card tray my niece Fanny E Wheeler my gold brooch with her of her mother aunt grandfather and grandmother. My niece Florence Lloyd my cameo brooch. My niece Annie Kathleen Lloyd my small gold brooch and ring with garnets. My nieces Emily Lloyd and Sarah Lloyd of Ironbridge six small coffee cups hand painted. My niece Mary Lloyd of Longton the unmade up worked chair. My niece Elizabeth Lloyd the square worked music stool. My Godson Lubin S Creasy the large bible given to me by my pupils all stuffed birds fossils and natural history specimens - To each of my remaining nephews and nieces and Joshua R Mellor a book and picture J R Mellor in memory of my niece Ettie Longfellow's poems. William Rhodes my husband's brother the large leather bound Family Bible - Edwin Rhodes my husband's nephew the enlarged photo of my husband. My niece Gertrude Lloyd my clothes and whatever remaining trinkets painted china and other furniture she chooses to retain and whatever residue of money remains after the sale of the rest of my real and personal property when my first debts and funeral expenses are paid. I wish to be buried in the grave with my husband Edwin H Rhodes and no other burial to take place in that grave - Eliza Rhodes'
Edwin Herbert Rhodes' Family
Father Joseph Rhodes, a saddler by trade (born 12 November 1802 - 1868)
Mother Sarah Rhodes, nee Buckley (~1809 - 1885)
Born 1833 (Congleton)
Baptised 4 September 1833 at Astbury, Congleton, Cheshire
Married 1 January 1873 to Eliza Lloyd at Sissington, Kent (1831 - 1905)
Died 22 August 1903 at Haydock Lodge Asylum, Lancashire
1841 - age 7, at Hospital Street, Nantwich
1851 - age 17, at High Street, Nantwich (occupation - saddler)
1861 - age 27, at High street, Nantwich (occupation - saddler)
1871 - age 37, at High Street, Nantwich (occupation - Photographer)
1881 - age 47, at Churches Mansion, Nantwich with his wife Eliza (occupation - stationer)
1891 - age 57, at Churches Mansion, Nantwich with his wife Eliza (occupation - stationer)
1901 - age 67, at Churches Mansion, Nantwich with his wife Eliza (occupation - stationer) Edwin and Eliza had no children but they did have many nephews and nieces to whom Eliza left their belongings.
Compiled by Ron Cosens © www.cartedevisite.co.uk
Sandy Barrie for trade directory information
Marcel Safier for additional research
Ron Cosens for images from the Victorian Image Collection