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Edward ThomasWarwell

Alfred Square, Deal
Water Street
Griffin Street, Deal
Dover Barracks
Limerick Barracks
Cork City Barracks
Shorncliffe Army Camp, Cheriton Kent
Leith Fort, Scotland
Woolwich Barracks
Wickham Street, Lambeth, London
41 Wellington Road, Deal

Occupation: Labourer, Soldier, Gate Keeper, Night-watchman

Edward Thomas Warwell was born in Alfred Square, Deal in 1828. According to the 1841 census the family was  then living in Griffin Street.  Thomas Warwell and his three eldest sons, Stephen, Joseph and Edward were all listed as labourers. Edward’s mother, Hannah, nee Kurt died in Eastry Union in December 1843 of a condition identified by the doctor as  Ulcerated Bowels (ulcerative colitis or possibly Crohn’s disease ) leaving behind her four older boys, two daughters  and her youngest child Alfred aged 2 years. Sadly Alfred was to follow his mother to the grave just over a year later.

By 1849 Edward had decided that a labourer’s life wasn’t for him. Maybe seeing his older brother, Stephen, being sent to prison for stealing the year before and eventually being transported to Australia made him want to better life for himself so he signs up to Her Majesty’s Royal Regiment of the Artillery at Dover Castle. Not long after becoming a soldier Edward was drafted to Ireland where he met a Limerick girl, Ann Preston. Edward and Ann married on June 7 1853 at St Munchin Church, Limerick.

On June 4 1855  Edward and his regiment were ordered to the Crimea where he joined the fourth bombardment of what had been an 11 month siege of Sevastopol. The Russians finally retreated on 9th September. During this confrontation, on September 12th, Edward was wounded in the head by the bursting of a shell from the Russian batteries.We don’t know, but possibly, he was sent across the Black Sea by ship to the hospital at Scutari near Constantinople (Istanbul), where he would have been nursed back to health by nurses undergoing training with Florence Nightingale. He was to feel the effects of this injury for the rest of his life.

After his recovery he was promoted to full Bombardier, and ordered to Sevastopol once more with six men as a boat’s crew for the purpose of carrying despatches to and from the opposing forces. 

Royal Artillery Museum

After leaving the Crimea Edward returned to his family in Ireland and was transferred to the Field Artillery Battery. In 1858 he saw his second son born and in 1859 Edward was promoted to the rank of  Sergeant.

In 1860 Ann and Edward welcomed their first daughter. Shortly after the birth Edward was posted to the Royal Regiment Artillery at Cheriton in Kent. In 1861 Ann is seen on the census living in the married quarters with her three children. Accommodation for the wives and children of soldiers was nothing like we would expect today. During the years Ann spent at Shorncliffe she might well have raised her family in a tent or more likely a wooden hut on the site. Some families were accommodated within the barracks sharing a room with soldiers with only a curtain pulled across their meagre facilities, for privacy.

By 1865 Edward had been posted to Fort Leith in Scotland where they welcomed another son,Richard.

The Gates of Fort Leith, Edinburgh. Historic Environment. Scotland

Three years later the family moved to the Military cottages in Woolwich. It is here that Edward’s and Ann’s relationship began to fall apart.

We discovered a court report in the Maidstone & Kentish Journal dated October 11 1869, which said-

“…A respectable looking woman, named Ann Warwell, aged 35, was charged with being drunk and threatening to murder her four children with a razor…’

Edward told the court that he had had no reason to complain about his wife’s conduct during their 14 years of marriage, that was until five years before when she had began to overindulge in alcohol. She had ‘mad freaks’ and during this particular one she had ‘seized a razor and said she would kill all the children’. Ann was held on remand

We were unable to discover the outcome of the trial but in 1870 we know that Edward was honourably discharged from the Royal Artillery after 21 years of service and in 1871 they were living in Wickham Street, Lambeth where Edward’s occupation is ‘Gatekeeper’. Sadly, for Edward and his family, it seems Ann’s conduct didn’t improve. In 1872 she was arrested for being drunk and riotous on the streets of Lambeth for which she received a ten shillings and sixpence fine and 7  days in Wandsworth Jail. The date of her imprisonment was from 21st to the 27th of December. Not much of a Christmas celebration for Edward and the rest of the family that year. 

It is from these remarkably thorough Prison Commission Records we discover something about Ann’s appearance. She is entered as being only 5 feet and a half inch tall with blue eyes and a pale complexion. When she left Wandsworth after seven days she weighed only 7 stones.

It is another newspaper report that tells us the next part of Edward’s story.

Daring attempt at Burglary the headline reads in the Gravesend and Dartford Reporter, August 15 1874. The write-up of the case tells us that Edward was working as a Night-Watchman at Messrs. Burnett’s Distillery, High Street, Vauxhall. The newspaper goes on to tell of how Edward tackled a burglar who  was creeping around the garden of the private  house of Mr Burnett at 3.30 in the morning. The burglar attacked Edward with a jemmy then tried to escape over the garden wall with Edward in hot pursuit! The burglar then frantically stabbed at Edward with a kitchen knife wounding him in the arm. A Police Constable, hearing cries for help from the grounds of the Distillery, arrived and discovered Edward had overpowered the burglar and had him pinned to the ground. We don’t know if Edward was ever rewarded by the Burnett family for his bravery but we hope so. We know from his Army papers that Edward was over 6 foot tall and with his years of Army training must have been a formidable opponent!

Despite her husband’s courageous conduct Ann’s behaviour still caused trouble for the family.  In 1877 she was brought before the Magistrate at Lambeth for stealing 6 shillings and four pence  ( approximately £20 in 2023 ) The court reporter didn’t say from where she stole the money but we do know that she was that she was then employed a servant. She was once again admitted into Wandsworth Jail, this time for a month. The prison records noted she then had a scar on her right temple and a broken nose.

Two years later Edward and Ann must both have been devastated to hear about the death of their eldest son, John. Aged just 25 years was killed as the result of an accident on board a ship in Chatham Docks.

After extensive searches in the 1881 census and beyond, no trace of Edward and Ann could be found during the next few years. They re-emerge in Deal in 1887 with a report about Ann in the Deal, Walmer and Sandwich Mercury as a ‘married woman residing in Wellington road’  being charged as being drunk and incapable in Beach Street. Ann told the court a story about asking her husband for money and him refusing to give her any. After this it seems she took a gold chain from him, boarded a train to Dover, sold it, and then drunk the proceeds. She returned to Deal sporting a large wound on her forehead. In front of the Magistrate it is revealed she was charged with a similar offence the year before and despite giving assurances to remain sober she had remained, on and off, in a drunken state throughout the previous twelve months. This time she was fined 7 shillings and sixpence. We wonder if Edward paid up or let her go to Jail!

In the following years all goes quiet with Ann until in 1903 when there is a Golden Wedding announcement in the local Deal newspaper from Edward. He is celebrating 50 years of marriage with his ‘Limerick Lass’! The following year Edward sadly passed away. He was buried in Hamilton Road Cemetery on 13th July.

So what became of Ann? After much searching we discovered she had been placed in St Joseph’s Home in Aldington, Hove, East Sussex. Her death certificate tells us she died on 22nd February 1907 of ‘senile decay’.

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
Edward Thomas Warwell December 21 1828 October 26 1831
St. George’s Church, Deal
Ann Preston
June 7
June 7, St Munchin Church. Limerick. Ireland
Born 1835
Died February 22 1907
Hove, East Sussex
July 13 1904
Hamilton Road Cemetery, Deal

The Children of Edward Thomas Warwell & Ann Preston

Name Born Baptised Married Died Buried
John 1854 13 Aug 1855
St Michaels, Limerick, Ireland
April 26 1879 Chatham Cemetery
Maidstone Road
William January 29 1858
Dublin, Ireland
April 4 1859
St Patrick’s. Cork City, Cork, Ireland
Emily Brackstone
October 1885
St Saviours, Southwark. London.
Born 1858
Died2nd marriage – 1888, David Austin.
1 February 1 1886
London Tower Hamlets Cemetery.
Frances Elizabeth Jane 1860 Limerick 1876
Dover, Kent
June 21 1876
St Mary’s the Virgin, Dover
Richard 1865 Leith Stella Rose Illenden
August 3 1896
St. Peter and St Paul’s, Charlton, Dover
Born 1865Dover
Died 1924
Plymouth, Devon


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1841 Griffin Street, Deal Thomas Warwell Head Labourer
Hannah Wife
Stephen Son Labourer
Joseph Son Labourer
Edward Son Labourer
Richard Son
Frances Daughter
Emma Daughter
Alfred Son
Alexander Fraser Friend’s son


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1851 RA Barracks., Limerick, Ireland Edward Thomas Warwell Soldier


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1861 Shorncliffe Barracks,  Cheriton,  Kent Edward Thomas Warwell Head Royal Artillery Sergeant
Ann Wife
John Son
William Son
Frances Daughter


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1871 67 Wickham Street, Lambeth Edward Head Gate Keeper
Ann Wife
John Son Sailor
William Son Scholar
Frances Daughter Scholar
Richard Son Scholar


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1881 Family not found


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1891 41 Wellington Road, Deal Edward Warwell Head Army Pensioner
Ann Wife


Year Address Name Relationship Occupation
1901 1901 Census for Deal Missing