The following article is adapted from text kindly provided by Dr James "Jimmy" Whittaker, Dec 2017:
There are many references to Edward Bushnell to be found in the pages of the Hungerford Virtual Museum but none of his earlier life before becoming a Hungerford “character” .The inscription upon his gravestone found in St. Saviour’s cemetery below give an insight into this character
For years he filled the office of Town Crier and Assistant Bailiff to the Town and Manor of Hungerford during which time he carried out his many onerous duties with unfailing zeal, tact and courtesy.
In grateful remembrance and appreciation of which this memorial is erected by his fellow townsmen.
In this article I charter the earlier part of his life and follow his rise from being an orphan to becoming a Hungerford stalwart.
Edward Bushnell was born in Bray near Maidenhead in 1849 and was the son of William and Sarah Bushnell. His father was a gardener.
Genealogical records suggest that both his parents died when Edward was very young - his father William dyed in 1849, the same year as his birth, and his mother Sarah dyed when Edward was just two years old in 1851.
So what became of young Edward? Unlike today, in those days, other family members would take care of their extended families. If a family failed to take in their own family members who had fallen upon hard times, they were placed in the local workhouse.
When Edward was two years old, he left Maidenhead and went to live with his grandparents Stephen and Mary Tucker who lived in Moon Lane, Hungerford together with their two sons Henry and Charles, and their daughter Mary. (Incidentally Moon Lane was later to be known locally as Lavatory Lane since the upstairs toilets jutted out into the lane below. These jutting out toilets are still in existence today (2017). Today Moon Lane is in fact Priory Place which starts at end of Salisbury Row and ends when it joins Priory Road opposite the new catholic church.)
Ten years later in 1861, Edward was living with his uncle and aunty, namely William and Ester Cox in Goodhall’s Yard in the High Street, which was one of the yards probably with outbuildings such as a stable, workshop and a cottage or two. Today in 2017, some of the properties in the High Street clearly were quite large properties in the 1860’s since they now contain newly erected buildings including houses and offices. Edward is described in the census as
being an errand boy and a servant.
In 1871 Edward was still living with his Uncle William and earning his living as a house painter .Maybe during his time as a painter he got to know some of the local shopkeepers, professionals such as doctors and lawyers and businessmen of Hungerford whilst working at their homes and became known as a trustworthy and hard working person. This would put him in good stead in later life.
In 1872 Edward married Lydia Joyce in Hungerford.
By 1881 Edward was living in Church Street with his wife and three children - Frances Lydia b.1875; Ernest Edward b.1877; Eleanor Sarah b.1880.
His status according to the census is now of Town Crier and Bill Poster. Previously, he was appointed Bellman in 1880 which was a multifunctional post of the Town & Manor encompassing the positions of town crier, assistant bailiff and beadle.
In 1891 Edward and his family were living at 2 High Street and he was described in the census as a coffee house keeper and his family had been further extended by the addition of five more sons namely - Albert William b.1881; Frederick George b.1883; Herbert John b.1886; Walter Thomas b.1887; Sidney Frank b.1890.
Sadly for the Bushnell family, Lydia Bushnell died in early 1901 and is buried in St.Saviour’s Church Yard.
In 1901 Edward, a widower, was still living in the High Street, and recorded as the Town Hall keeper and bill poster. Eleanor was a house keeper; Albert a joiner; Frederick a cabinet maker; Herbert a telegraph messenger and Walter and Sydney were still school boys.
According to the 1911 census, Edward was a county court bailiff living in the High Street, and it is also revealed that the property consisted of 8 rooms. A county court bailiff being responsible for the enforcement of county court orders for the recovering of money. If the money was not payed ,he had the authority to seize and sell goods to recover the debt.
He was living with three of his children who were all making their way in the world -
- Eleanor was still his house keeper,
- Herbert had progressed to be a relieving officer for the Poor Law. Basically he administered the finances of the workhouse in Park Street. It is a grim reminder that as late as 1934 there were still 78 inhabitants of Hungerford living in the workhouse. Later on, Herbert became the Chairman of the Parish Council from 1949 to 1952.
- Walter was a skating rink instructor .Now this is a peculiar occupation and one would be sceptical perhaps, however the entry on the census
form is clearly written and signed by his father.
- Sydney was a cabinet maker.
- Sadly in 1918 his son Walter Thomas Bushnell was killed in action during WW1 at Damery in France on 11 Aug 1918, age 31.
Edward himself died on 23 May 1923 aged 74.