Sir Henry Edwards

This Foldout presents looks at some aspects of the life and career of Sir Henry Edwards


Sir Henry Edwards was the third son of Henry Lees Edwards and brother of Captain Joseph Priestley Edwards of Castle Carr.

Born 20th July 1812.

He became a wealthy landowner – probably the largest landowner in the district – and a local magistrate.

He is said to have protested about several minor irritations which included: the sight of washing on a line, white cows in the fields, and smoke from chimneys – he was a member of the Halifax Smoke Abatement Society.

In 1873, he spoke on behalf of the complainants during the enquiry into the Buzzer & Whistle Nuisance.

He lived at Hope Hall [1849] before moving back to the family home at Pyenest House.

He was involved in a feud with J. E. Wainhouse.

He was described as wealthy, stubborn and autocratic. He introduced measures to reduce pollution at his Canal Mills, Sowerby Bridge.

He was a staunch Conservative and stood in several local elections. He became the first Tory MP for Halifax [1847]. He was involved in setting up the Second West Yorkshire Yeomanry Cavalry of which he became a Captain.

In 1838, he married Maria Churchill Coster [1819-1906].

Maria was born 2nd April 1819, the daughter of Thomas Coster of Regent's Park in London and Marchwoods in Hampshire


  1. Henrietta Maria [1839-1924] who married Captain John  Dearden
  2. Emily Gertrude [1845-1919] who married her cousin, Lea  Priestley Edwards
  3. Henry Coster Lea
  4. Priestley Churchill
  5. Charles Grove
  6. Arthur Hancock
  7. Laura Maude

In 1857, he was elected Conservative MP for Beverley. In August 1866, he was created Baronet. In 1868, he was elected MP for Beverley for the last time. The corruption allegations followed the election.

He was Deputy Lieutenant of the West Riding. In 1871, he was appointed High Sheriff of Yorkshire. He was a Magistrate in the West Riding from 1846 and Chairman from 1875. He was the longest-serving Magistrate at the time.

In 1875, he was appointed Provincial Grand Master of West Yorkshire Freemasons. He was Master of the Lodge of Probity Number 61.

In June 1877, he led an army of 890 men in a mock battle in the Copley Valley

In 1877, he proposed a Halifax Bishopric to serve the increasing population in the district.

In May 1881, he was summoned to Windsor Castle where Queen Victoria invested him with the Companion of the Order of the Bath in recognition of

his long service as a Yeomanry Officer and the then efficient state of the 2nd West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales Own) Yeomanry Cavalry under his command, which regiment he was mainly instrumental in raising during the disturbed state of the country at the time of the Plug and Chartist riots in 1842

He supported the Halifax Race Course until the gambling of 1879.

Around 1884, he contracted Bright's Disease and was confined to bed at his Pye Nest home.

He died following an attack of hemiplegia paralysis on Good Friday, 23rd April 1886.

Large crowds – and many local dignitaries – arrived in Halifax for his funeral on 28th April 1886. At the Mayor's request, the large bell of Halifax Town Hall was muffled and rung, as were the bells of Halifax Parish Church and St Paul's Church, King Cross.

He & other members of the family were buried at All Saints' Church, Dudwell.

There is a memorial window for him in Halifax Parish Church, having been placed there by members of the Freemasons' Lodge of Probity Number 61 [1886].

Maria died 5th March 1906

© Malcolm Bull 2023
Revised 14:24 / 4th January 2023 / 7649

Page Ref: QQ_176

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