Researched by Keith Parsons
Edward was born on 12th February 1861 in Crediton. His parents were Richard Adams (a leather tanner, born in Crediton around 1827) and Mary Jane Vicary (born in Crediton around 1829) who married in 1855 (in Crediton) and lived at 100, High Street, Crediton.
Edward was a member of the Brethren (Gospel Hall) and followed in his father's footsteps in the leather trade and became a currier (a person who "curries" tanned leather to make it strong, flexible and waterproof).
In 1890, he married Agnes Shaw (born November 1868 in Windsor, Berkshire) in Exeter and they initially lived on Crediton High Street close to Edward's parents.
They had the following children:
- Arthur Ernest (born 1891)
- Minnie (born June 1892)
- Daisy (born January 1894)
- Margaret (born 1894)
- Edward (born November 1895)
- Thomas (born August 1901)
By 1901, the family had moved to Preston, Lancashire and before 1911 they emigrated to Toronto Canada, where they lived at 199 First Avenue and later at 13, Burgess Avenue.
Private 171583 Canadian Infantary 3rd Battalion.
On 1st August 1915, Edward signed up to join the 83rd Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. He was described as being 5ft 4.5 inches tall with fair hair and blue eyes and a 34" waist. He seems to have lied about his age to appear younger than he actually was as the records show his birth as 12th February 1871 (instead of 1861).
Edward died of dysentry on 1st January 1918, aged 56 and was buried in Crediton Church, close to the Buller vault. His grave is marked with a cross and there is a memorial recording his death at the Shorncliffe Military Hospital. He is also listed on the Crediton War Memorial. The cross was later replaced by a CWGC headstone.
- The Western Times, Friday 4th January 1918:
"The inhabitants of Crediton will learn with deep regret of the death of Pte. Edward Adams who died in Shorncliffe Hospital from dysentary. Pte. Adams was the eldest son of the late Richard Adams, who formerly carried on a large tannery business in the town. Some years ago he went to Canada and shortly after the outbreak of war, although at the age of 54 years put back his age to serve his country. He was a brother of Mrs John Howe and Mr H Adams of Crediton. He leaves a widow, two daughters and three sons one of whom is serving."
- The Western Times, Monday 7th January 1918 :
"Pte. Edward Adams of the Canadians has died in the Military Hospital at Shorncliffe from dysentary. Deceased was the eldest son of the late Richard Adams, tanners of Crediton. He has served for over two years in the trenches, and joined up voluntarily in Canada at the age of 54. The body was conveyed to Crediton on Saturday from Shorncliffe. He leaves a wife two daughters and three sons with whom deepest sympathy is felt. One son is serving with the colours."Western Times – January 9 1918
- The Western Times, 9th January 1918, "Military Funeral at Crediton"
"The funeral took place at Crediton Churchyard yesterday, with military honours, of Pte. E Adams, of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Deceased, who for a number of years had resided in Canada, belonged to a well-known Crediton family, who have carried on business in the town for a large number of years. Pte. Adams, who was well over 50 years of age when war broke out, joined the Canadian Army to figth for the Old Country. He proceeded to France, and fought in the trenches, but owing to his age he could not stand the strain, and he was invalided back to this country, where he passed away. The Vicar (Preb. W M Smith Dorrien), assisted by the Rev. Hodgson, officiated at the funeral. The pall-bearers and trumpeter from the Higher Barracks, Exeter, were Sergt. Copp. The following soldiers were also present: Ex-Sgt-Major Gribble, Sergts. Discombe, Casling, Coe, Cumming, Ptes. F. White, F. Elston, Sid Rich (4th Canadiians), and King Scount Martin. The coffin was of polished oak, and the breastplate bore the inscription:'Pte. E Adams, 171583, C.O.R.D., died January 1st, 1918, aged 57 years.' The principal mourners were Mr H. Adams, Miss J. Adams, Mrs F. Rowe, Mr F Adams (brothers and sisters), Miss Rowe (niece), Mr Clifford Sanders (nephew). The Freemasons were represented by Bros. W. H. Thomas, W. Grove and T. Jones, who dropped sprigs of acacia on the coffin. Amongst the large number also present were Messrs W. Murch, E. J. Stoyle, W. Doddridge, J. Moore, A. Hector, J. D. Perkins, H. Sprague, W. Lethbridge, G. Heard, W. Thorne, Mr. Hughes (Eggesford), Mrs Soboy (2), Mrs. Hopkins, Mrs. Coles, Mrs. J. Perkins, Mrs. W. J. Discombe. Three volleys were fired over the grave, and the Last Post sounded by the trumpeters. Among the floral tributes was a handsome wreath from the Crediton and District Constitutional Club. 'as a token of esteem to one of its founders.'"
As well as Edward's service two of his sons Arthur Ernest and Edward also served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, both surviving the war.
Arthur was to be awarded the Military Medal in September 1917, the citation reading:-
"For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, Staff Sergeant Adams, during heavy hostile shell and machine-gun fire, laid a loop of cable 1.5 miles in lenghth which was urgently required for intelligence purposes, overland into "no-man's-land" and return.This work started at 1.00 am and was not finished at daybreak.
Staff Sergeant Adams continued this work for four hours in daylight, during the greater part of which time he was under the direct observation of the enemy."
- Crediton War Memorial, Panel 1, South Facing: E. Adams
- 1881 Census of England & Wales, RG11 piece 2229 folio 27 page 2 (FindMyPast)
- 1891 Census of England & Wales, RG12 piece 1760 folio 5 page 4 & RG12 piece 1760 folio 23 page 2 (FindMyPast)
- 1901 Census of England & Wales, RG13 piece 3947 folio 145 page 9 (FindMyPast)
- 1911 Census of Canada. Ward 1, Toronto East, Ontario; Page: 27; Family No: 258
- FreeBMD: Marriages Q2 1890, Exeter 5b 151: ADAMS, Edward & SHAW, Agnes
- FreeBMD: Marriages Q1 1855, Crediton 5b 588: ADAMS, Richard & VICARY, Mary Jane
- Commonwealth War Graves Commission Casualty Details for Service Number 171583
- Canada. "Soldiers of the First World War (1914-1918)." Record Group 150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 4930 - 35. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa. (Ancestry)
- Library and Archives Canada (LAC); War Graves Registry: Commonwealth War Graves. RG150, 1992-1993/314, Box 39-244; Box: 138 (Ancestry)