At first glance it might seem odd that William is included on the gravestone of George and Emily Edwards at St John’s, when his surname is very different. The simple explanation is that his wife Florence was Emily Edward’s sister.
First a few words about the Edwards. George James Edwards was born in Lewes on 07/11/1869 and baptised at St Michael’s. After leaving school he joined the railway at Brighton in 1890 as a checker. This was a clerical post almost certainly based in the goods yard; however the 1891 census lists him as a porter.
He married Emily Harriet Pilgrim in Lewes in 1898. She had been born in Ewell, Surrey in 1874. They had two boys, Alfred George born in 1903 and died in 1916, and Ernest Eric born in 1906. By 1901 George had left the railway and was listed on the census as a beer retailer, and by 1911 he had become an auctioneer’s porter. They were living on the High Street.
At the outbreak of war, aged 46, George joined the army on 02/11/1914. When he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on 08/01/1918 his papers do not show his previous army service but his medical board classed him as B2. He automatically transferred to the RAF at its formation in April 1918 and seems to have been based at Crystal Palace, working as a batman. From other sources we believe his army service may have been with the ASC. He was discharged in April 1920. Emily died in December 1931 and was buried at St John’s.
William Tupper was born in Storrington, and baptised there on 18/01/1880. His father William was an agricultural worker and the family moved with his work. In 1881 they were living on Oreham Common, and by 1891 were in Albourne.
In 1899 William started working as a checker on the railway at Brighton. He was listed as a porter on the 1901 census and boarding at Rose Hill. He would have met George Edwards, who was also working there, and this may be how he met his wife, Florence May Pilgrim.
Florence had been baptised in Ewell in 1875 and by 1899 was working, with her elder sister Emily, as a housemaid in Hove. By 1901 she had become a general domestic servant at a boarding house in Gloucester Place Brighton.
They married in Brighton in 1904 and moved to Railway Street. Their only child, John William, was born in April 1912.
William enlisted in Brighton and was placed initially in the Sussex Regiment but was transferred quite quickly to the 2nd Battalion the Hampshire Regiment, where he was numbered 21313.
His papers are no longer available to view, but from his number it is likely that his transfer was in mid 1915.
He entered the theatre of war on 12/12/1915. At the time the 2nd Battalion was serving in Gallipoli but they were evacuated to Egypt in January 1916. On 20/03/1916 they landed in Marseilles for service in France. The whole of their time was spent on the Western Front, and in July they were part of what was called the 2nd Battle of Albert. In effect this was the first two weeks of the Battle of the Somme. Fighting was trench based and on July 10th the Hampshires were relieved by the 1st Battalion the Essex Regiment, leaving the trenches to camp in Mailly Wood. Casualties reported that day included 1 other ranks killed. This was William. All official records record him as a private but family refer to him as a Lance Corporal.
William is buried in Knightsbridge Cemetery, Mesnil-Martinsart in France in grave D55. He is also recorded on the War Memorial in the Steine in Brighton, the St Peter’s Memorial book and the LBSCR Memorial in Brighton station.
William never lived in Lewes spending all his married life in Brighton. Florence too remained living there after his death. By 1939 she was living on West Hill with their son John who was working as a gas fitter but who later served in the RAF during WW2. Florence died in 1956.
William’s connection to St John’s is through his sister-in-law and this provides the justification for his name being inscribed on a stone in St John’s churchyard. This can be seen on the link:
(Scroll to Memorial number 011)