Henry Edmunds


Henry Edmunds, the son of Henry Edmunds, was born at South Field, Silver Street, Halifax [19th March 1853].

His mother, Caroline, died of complications a few months after giving birth to Henry.

He started work with his father's firm, Edmunds & Hookway [1868].

He invented an oil engine [1871], an oil vapour lamp [1873], and an arc lamp He set up his own engineering business.

He took several of his inventions to the USA. He became a friend and correspondent with Thomas Edison.

He introduced sound-recording to Britain with his Graphophone [1888], and arranged the first Royal recording. He pioneered wireless telegraphy and electric lighting.

In 1880, he installed electric lighting at Crossley's Albion Mills – the first in Halifax.

In June 1880, he married (1) Annie Wayman at Park Congregational Church.


  1. Claud Henry (twin) 
  2. Dorothy Annie (twin) 

Annie died in childbirth in April 1881, giving birth to the twins.

In 1882, he married (2) Ellen Murray Howard [born 16th January 1856 in Rhode Island, USA], daughter of Ellen (née Murray) & Albert Crawford Howard, of Rhode Island.

They moved to London.

He was a well-known figure in motoring circles. He helped popularise motor-sport.

He was a director of car manufacturer Royce Limited.

In London, he met the Hon Charles Rolls, who was importing and selling foreign cars.

He was a member of the Automobile Club Committee. In 1903, he presented the Henry Edmunds Hill-Climbing Trophy to the Automobile Club. The trophy is now at the Sir Henry Royce Foundation, Paulersbury.

He is known as the Godfather of Rolls-Royce because he was instrumental in introducing the Hon Charles Stewart Rolls to Frederick Henry Royce. In 1904, he bought one of three experimental cars which Royce produced, and suggested to Rolls the idea of starting a dealership for Royce cars. On 4th May 1904, Rolls and Edmunds travelled to Manchester to meet Royce in the Grill Room at the Midland Hotel. The Rolls-Royce partnership was formed.

A business venture by his son led to financial ruin. He died on 18th November 1927 at Hove, Sussex. He was buried in Stanmer churchyard, Sussex.

Ellen Murray Howard Edmunds died at Providence, Rhode Island [22nd May 1928] and is buried at Swan Point Cemetery, Providence

© Malcolm Bull 2021
Revised 15:26 / 20th September 2021 / 4914

Page Ref: MME189

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