John Edwards b 1789

We know little about John Edwards. When Ellenor Edwards marries, John Edwards, a nailor, is named as her father. John Edwards certainly did not marry the mother (Ellen Williams) of their daughter, Ellen Edwards, so he either married someone else or died prematurely. Certainly the child Ellen eventually marries under the name "Edwards", but in the 1851 census there is the odd scenario of mother Elizabeth Williams (unmarried), daughter Ellen Edwards (unmarried) and granddaughter Elizabeth Jones (Ellen Edwards daughter, Elizabeth, who comes with her into her marriage with John Evans). Ellen Edwards had been Ellen Williams in the 1841 census.

The balance of probability is that John Edwards, blacksmith, living at Llanfihangel Trer Beirdd, 2 miles E. of Llanerchymedd, and 5 N. of Llangefni, is the man we are looking for. He was born about 1788 from census data, at Llanidan, married someone else (Ann, born Llandrygan) and had at least one son, Robert born around 1820 in Llanfihangel Trer Beirdd. If this were the case, he would have fathered “our” Ellen Edwards (born 1825) while already married to Ann. Our Ellen Edwards was born in 1826 at Llangwyllog, within a few miles.

John Edwards eventually dies around 1865. Ellen Edwards was born at Llangwyllog (3 miles north west of Llangefni) and very close to where John Edwards was a blacksmith.

1841 Census. Elizabeth Williams age 50, living with Ellenor Williams age 14 in High Street, Llangefni.

There is no sign of a "John Edwards, nailor" in the census in the area, though we can find him in later censuses. But his son Robert Edwards, aged 20 and married to Margaret, is found in Llanfihangel Trer Beirdd as a blacksmith. (their marriage is probably Sep 1840 Robert Edwards to Margaret Hughes Anglesey 27 425)

1851 census Ellen Edwards, daughter, unmarried age 24, born: Llangwyllog (3 miles north west of Llangefni, Anglesey. And Elizabeth Jones, grand daughter, under 1 month, born: Llangefni, Anglesey. Are living with Elizabeth Williams, Head, unmarried age 62, pauper, born: Llanfihangel Gerlsowgor , Anglesey (that is the rendering given by the transcriber, but it could be anything, and there are a number of places preceded by Llanfihangel on Anglesey), living at "back of High St", Llangefni.

There is a census entry for a John Edwards, blacksmith, at Llanfihangel Trer Beirdd.

"Llanfihangel Trer Beirdd, a parochial chapelry 2 miles E. of Llanerchymedd, its post town, 5 N. of Llangefni, and 11 from Beaumaris. This place was formerly a favourite retreat of the Welsh bards, and hence it received its distinctive appellation. The village, which is small, lies about 5 miles distant from Moelfre Bay. The living is a curacy annexed to the rectory of Llandyfrydog, in the diocese of Bangor. The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a very small structure with a single aisle. The charities amount to about £2 per annum. On Bodafon Hill is "the shapely cromlech" mentioned by Rowlands, the table stone of which measures 10 feet in length by 8 in breadth; it is commonly named among the natives "y-maen-Llwydd." At some distance, near a place called Barras, is another small cromlech, now in ruins." [From The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)

John Edwards is given as age 62 born in Llanidan, and his wife age 65 born in Llandrygan. There is a reasonable possiblity that this is our man. A nailor and blacksmith are the same trade, with the more specialist one of nailor disappearing as machines took over. Until the last decade of the 1700s and the early 1800s, hand-wrought nails typically fastened the sheathing and roof boards on building frames. These nails were made one by one by a blacksmith or nailor from square iron rod. After heating the rod in a forge, the nailor would hammer all four sides of the softened end to form a point. The pointed nail rod was reheated and cut off. Then the nail maker would insert the hot nail into a hole in a nail header or anvil and form a head with several glancing blows of the hammer. The most common shape was the rosehead; however, broad "butterfly" heads and narrow L-heads also were crafted. L-head nails were popular for finish work, trim boards, and flooring.

Between the 1790s and the early 1800s, various machines were invented for making nails from bars of iron. The earliest machines chopped nails off the iron bar like a guillotine, wiggling the bar from side to side with every stroke to produce a tapered shank. These are known as type A cut nails. At first, the heads were often made by hand, but soon machines were developed to pound a head on the end. This type of nail was made until the 1830s.

In the early 19c, in the neighbourhood of Birmingham alone, 60,000 people - men, women and children - were involved in the hand manufacture of iron nails. They turned out something like 200 tons of nails, of numerous varieties and levels of quality, every week. Commonly an entire family would work together, confining themselves to a particular class of nail. There were about 300 sorts of wrought or forged iron nails alone. Specific names suggested the uses to which they were put - dec, wheelwright, hurdle, mop, etc.

Further divisions such as rose, clasp, clasp, diamond, pearl and sunken described the shape of the nail head; and flat, sharp, spear, needle and referred to their points. The terms fine, bastard and strong described their thickness. The very finest quality nails were used for horseshoes; each nail required at least 35 blows of the hammer to draw it out fine enough to prevent it from cracking or breaking off in the horse's hoof.

Most nails required at least 25 blows of the hammer to form them. When the shank had been drawn out from the red hot rod to the required length, it was inserted into a heading tool, cut, turned and struck on the anvil. During this process, the bellows had to be worked several times.
The workers who forged the nails on the anvil were known as Nailors or Naylors. Each could make as many as four nails a minute - that's up to 3,000 a day. What has happened to the traditional nail maker has happened to many other classes of industrial worker, who have seen their crafts swallowed up by automated processes or superceded by new inventions.

1860 His daughter Ellen Edwards, a spinster, aged 31 of Llanfair-is-gaer (or Bryn Llanfair, a parish 2 miles N.E. of Carnarvon, and 7 from Bangor, situated on the shore of the Menai Strait, and includes the township of Brynffynon and port of Dinorwig ) marries John Evans, bachelor and a tailor aged 30 John Edwards is a nailor on the marriage certificate. The fact that Ellen Edwards did not put "deceased" after his name further indicates that her father was alive in 1860.

1861 John Edwards, the blacksmith, is still alive, but now widowed, and with his widowed daughter-in-law plus her children living in the house with him at Llanfihangel Trer Beirdd. The previous census in 1851 showed Robert Edwards, his wife Margaret and the same children living next door to John & Ann, so Robert was the son of John & Ann.

He would appear to have died by the 1871 census. There are 4 possibilities for his death. The death cert would not be likely to add to the tale here.

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