Ellen Martha Anderson/Edgar
(1838-9 January 1873)
Ellen was still living with her parents in 1861 and it was at Mount Rosa that she married Donald Ramsey Edgar (DRE) in 1865. He was the son of Scots-born, Halifax-based banker, Robert Edgar. Robert was manager of the Halifax and Huddersfield Union Bank (building right), which, in 1864,
was described was having an exceedingly beautiful interior,
arguably unsurpassed in the country. Robert died in 1898;
perhaps tellingly his probate entry doesn’t mention DRE.
Edgar fils was a drysalter. Wikipedia tells us "drysalters
were dealers in a range of chemical products, including
glue, varnish, dye and colourings. They might supply salt
or chemicals for preserving food and sometimes also sold
pickles, dried meat or related items. The name drysalter
or dry-salter was in use in the United Kingdom by the early
18th century when some drysalters concentrated on
ingredients for producing dyes, and it was still current in
the first part of the 20th century". In the later part of the
C19th, a new chemical process (that was an unexpected
outcome from otherwise unsuccessful scientific enquiry) saw the advent of brightly coloured aniline dyes from coal tar. Prior to this, textiles were dyed using natural colouring agents. So, not only did DRE deal in dyes, he also applied the chemistry to make and use them to colour wool.
Ellen and Donald
Robert Donald Anderson Albert Edward Edith Blanche
(1867-1877) (1869-1916) (1870-1872) (1872-1937)
In 1871, the family was living in Robert’s household in Skircoat, Halifax. Ellen's daughter, Edith Blanche, was born around the time of Ellen's youngest son's (Albert Edward) death. Ellen herself died in 1873 of ulceration and stricture of the bowel, exhausted. A Google search links her condition with Crohn’s disease.
I will candidly admit I have taken a wholly irrational antipathy to DRE. Thrice married to women of independent means (1865, 1874, 1885), he was also thrice bankrupt (1869, 1873, 1891). His marriage to her sister, Elizabeth, took place 18 months after Ellen's death. His third, to another Ellen, Ellen Rolfe, daughter of renowned artist, Henry Leonidas Rolfe, was three years after Elizabeth's death.
An 1891 newspaper report (headed A Rawdon dry salter’s third failure) gave his liabilities as £4,465/2/9, his assets were £379/11/11. The article explained his problem was he spent more than he earned. He had arranged his affairs so that the household assets were the property of his wife and he “does not propose to make any offer to his creditors”. In 1892, however, the records show a first and final payment by DRE, (Cliffe Cottage, Rawdon (near Leeds), and carrying on business at the Swan-arcade, Bradford, both in Yorkshire) of 1s 71/2d in the £ to creditors. He lived as a ‘gentleman’ (for example, rising through the ranks of regiments of various Yorkshire Volunteer corps. These volunteer forces had been established by the Army to supplement regular army resources in defending England's vulnerable eastern coastline) while supporting his lifestyle on credit. He died on the Isle of Wight in 1903.
Ellen’s brief married life in Halifax was, not to put too fine a point on it, horrible. In those seven and a half years, she gave birth to four children, one of whom had died while she was heavily pregnant with her daughter. She had contracted a disease that becomes increasingly worse over time and must have been symptomatic during at least one of her pregnancies. She died when her daughter was six months old. I hope that DRE was a charming man to compensate Ellen for her physical misery. He must have had something to stay afloat and be well regarded through decades of business and financial chicanery. I suggested earlier that Ellen’s sister, Elizabeth (DRE’s second wife) may have been in the house, perhaps helping with the children, during Ellen’s ordeal. If so, and the memory had remained strong when she herself became ill some years later, avoiding anything like her sister’s suffering might provide a reason for Elizabeth’s suicide.
Donald Anderson Edgar
Edith Blanche Edgar/Oldfield