The Friends of St. Peter's Berkhamsted

Friends of St Peter's, Great Berkhamsted

Bedford family (Edward, Sarah and Albert)

Grave Number 968

Edward Harvey Bedford 1856-1903

Sarah Jane Bedford 1858-1903

Albert Bedford 1884-1901

The history of this family is devastatingly sad – this grave needs to be read in relation to Grave No 877. Between 1901 and 1903 both parents and 4 of their 6 children died.

Edward Harvey Bedford (always known as ‘Harvey’) was the illegitimate son of Sophia Dennett (nee Bedford, daughter of Jonathon Bedford of Water Side). She was 18, probably a servant at the time as Harvey’s birthplace was recorded as Stanmore and the father was Harvey Steen, a Gamekeeper, but by 1861 she was living with her husband William Dennett in Provident Place, off Holliday Street (and now demolished.)

 By 1871 Harvey had left school and was working as a Farm Servant[1], though still living at home. In that year, George Batchelor of Berkhamsted was fined 19s 6d. for assaulting Harvey on the evening of 13th September ‘ The complainant, a youth, and defendant and his boy were returning from Mr Cutler’s harvest home, and the two lads got larking with one another, and Bedford having pushed Batchelor, junior, the father, thinking it was more than in fun, struck Bedford across his back with a stick, causing a weal – Batchelor said he had had a little too much to drink, or he should not have done it.’[2]

In 1878, by then 22 and working as a Coachman, Harvey married Sarah Munn at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity, in Greys Inn Road; in 1880 their first son Edward Harvey was born in Little Gaddesden; the following year they were living in Highfield Road. George was born in 1883, Albert followed in1885, Florence in 1887, Frank in 1890. and Fred in 1895.

Harvey had clearly begun to build up a strawdealing business, acquiring horses and carts. By 1885 he was supplying waggons and carts to transport children forming the Juvenile Branch of the Church of England Temperance Society on their annual holiday outing on 3rd July to the Monument at Ashridge (the party numbered 200).[3] His vehicles would continue to be used in connection with large gatherings up to the time of his death. In 1901, his four-horse brake transported twenty of the Baptist Church Choir to Princes Risborough Station for a day out in Oxford.[4] One of the most dramatic occasions must have been for the Mafeking celebrations in 1900, when an effigy of Paul Kruger was processed in ‘a Victoria in charge of Mr Harvey Bedford, the closing scene being the burning of the “His Honour” in front of the Crown Hotel by the Fire Brigade, who, having reduced the figure to ashes, turned on the hose and put out the opposite element.’[5] He also charitably took the immates of the workhouse for a drive in the country each year– up to the end of his life – in 1903 shortly after that year’s outing he was ‘lying seriously ill at his residence in Castle-Street’, and died within four days of the report[6].

Harvey’s stock-in-trade as a ‘carrier, carter and livery stable proprietor 1904 was then put up for sale and consisted of:

  • 12 cart and carriage horses
  • 21 carts and waggons
  • Long shaft & 2 timber carriages
  • 15 sets of thill harness
  • Victorias, dog carts, waggonnettes, new large four-in-hand brake, broughams, sets of four-in-hand, Double and Single harness, 7 fat pigs, Berkshire sow and 7 pigs[7]

In 1888, one of Harvey’s employees, John Winfield was killed at the Railway Station. John Andrews, a carter, had been employed to find horses and drivers for conveying furniture, and he had hired two horses of Harvey Bedford.[8] Members of the Winfield family continued to work for Bedford, however, for in 1892 ‘a collision occurred opposite Dudswell-lane, between a break of Mr Harvey Bedford’s, Berkhamsted, driven by a young man named Winfield, with a pair of horses, and containing a party of people, and a cart belonging to Mr. Alison, of Tring, a corn dealer, whose man was returning from Watford with his wife and her mother.’[9]

Clearly Harvey was diversifying his business. In 1890, (a particularly busy year) his plan for a corrugated iron shed was passed.[10] He supplied seven horses to move one of Costin’s boats (50’ long by 10’ wide) from Castle Wharf to the Goods Yard, ‘from whence it was sent to Ely’[11] He clearly worked closely with Costin (his employees joining those of Mr Costin and Mr Barker for a holiday outing in September to Ward’s Coombe)[12] for in the same year there was a ‘stand-off’ between one of Costin’s  canal boats under Harvey’s charge, and a boat, laden with straw bearing the name of Mr. Marshalsay of Wendover, the boats getting stuck in the Raven’s Lane lock. More than 50 boats were delayed on both sides, and in court Harvey was fined 16s 6d for ‘navigating his boat rudder foremost’[13] In the same year he was sued for non-payment of rent for Castle Wharf[14] but escaped a fine when the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals charged him for causing horses to be worked in an unfit state[15]. Another fatal accident occurred, this time involving George Allison. Harvey ‘said on Saturday, June 21st., he met a party at Berkhamsted station, and he and Mr Allison drove them to the Monument. On passing Harvey, Allison said ‘Pull up at the public door at the station’ to which Harvey replied “Right you are” and then ‘Mr Allison must have pulled the wrong rein. His wheel no doubt ran on the bank, and on his pulling the other rein sharp, the trap must have turned over and broke in two’. The horse bolted and dragged Allison with him[16].

By 1891 Harvey was described as a Carrier and Carman, and was renting fields presumably for their straw crop [17] and purchasing hay ricks to provide bedding and feed for his horses. [18] He had also become a Freemason.[19] He had taken over George Lingard’s property at 62 Castle Street, and there were 4 children at that time living there – Edward, Albert, Florence and Frank.

In 1892, Harvey was charged ‘with keeping a dog without a licence’. The licence supervisor said Harvey ‘was waited on March 17, April 16 and May 2, besides being met in the street once, and on May 30 he took out a licence after proceedings had been commenced. Harvey however argued that he ‘always paid for the dog with his other licences. He had not commenced to use his traps then, and he produced the receipts for the three last years…’ and the case was dismissed.[20]

In 1900, three boys ‘Arthur Dealey, Fred Dealey and Harvey Rance, boys, of Berkhampstead, were charged with stealing from the Wharf, at that place, on Oct. 2, nine dozen boxes of matches. Charles Bedford[21], son of Mr Harvey Bedford, said a packing case full of matches was left on the Wharf on Monday, Oct 2. He left the case safe at night. Mr Harvey Bedford, agent for a firm of carriers, said he saw the box in question wrenched open, and many boxes of matches were missing. A crowbar was lying near. Rance was brought to him that evening with two boxes of matches, and he said he was with the other boys who were as bad as himself. Mrs Oakings, living close to the Wharf, said she heard a noise on the Wharf, and looking out, saw two or three boys who at once ran off. P.S. Hewett …apprehended the three boys. Arthur Dealey said he only took two boxes. Afterwards all three said they took some matches, and Rance said they got a crowbar from Mr. East’s yard and broke open the cases…Arthur Dealey was sent to prison for 21 days, and the other two boys ordered to receive eight strokes with the birch rod.[22]

Two years later another three boys, Albert King (15), William Rance (14) and Frank R. Tomblin (11) pleaded not guilty ‘with doing damage to a timber carriage on April 21st. Inspector Martin said on the day in question he saw the boys playing with a carriage the property of Harvey Bedford. King, who was drawing the cart along, dropped the shafts. Lawrence was knocking the front with a piece of wood and Tomblin was also doing damage. Harvey Bedford gave evidence as to the damage costing about 10s to repair. The bench ordered the defendant Rance to pay the costs and damage 6s 4d and the other two defendants to pay 10s. inclusive.[23]

Of the six children, four are buried in the Cemetery (see also 877), and only one – their only daughter – survived beyond the age of 30.

Florence married Albert Harrowell, a bricklayer in 1909 and extraordinarily lived to be 88. But sadly, death haunted even this partnership as Albert died in the First World War on 31st July 1917 at the age of 31, and is buried at Ypres (leper), West-Vlaanderen, Belgium.

Frederick Bedford, the youngest boy, in 1911 was living aged 16 and employed in mineral water manufacture, with Florence at her home, 68 Shrublands Avenue along with his elder brother Frank, a coachman (Frank would survive another seven years). Frederick died aged 30 in 1925.

This particular headstone is situated close to 877, and is almost identical; together they record the sad deaths of five members of the Bedford family – the father Harvey and mother Sarah Jane and one of their sons on this one, and another three of their children on another..  You won’t find many graves in the Cemetery displaying people or human anatomy such as corpses, unlike in the C18th.  There are however, a few representations of clasped hands. The Bucks Herald of 14th May 1904 reported that ‘within a year or two have occurred, it is believed of hereditary consumption, 5 deaths in one family – that of the late Mr Harvey Bedford, a well-known jobmaster etc. First a daughter[24] died, and subsequently the mother, father and two sons. The funeral of the last, George Bedford, age 21, took place on Saturday at the Cemetery, the Rector, Rev H.C Curtis officiating.  A large gathering of sympathizing spectators assembled at the graveside, and among the followers were Mr. Bedford of Uxbridge, and Mr. H. Lee, the executors. A number of choice wreaths were laid on the bier.’

Both this and the gravestone at 877 illustrate the right hand in a grasp with fingers overlapping the other hand while the left hand is open. Look at the cuffs to distinguish between the man and woman’s hand, the latter having a frilly cuff. (Placing the male on the right and female onthe left is a deeply entrenched symbolic representation of male/female roles). Holding hands in this way indicates the couple’s unity and affection even after death. Clasped hands are also symbolic of a farewell or last good-bye.  In this case, Edward Harvey (on the right) died a fortnight after his wife, so the latter would appear to be welcoming or greeting her deceased partner.

On the other headstone, it might be the sister who died first who appears to be welcoming ‘our dear brother Harvey BEDFORD, d. 31st December 1903, aged 23, his brother George, who died 1st May 1904, aged 21 and finally Frank, a third brother who died 10th March 1918 aged 27. In both cases, the male hand’s little finger is pointing downwards, perhaps signifying they are the last to go.

The stones are nearly the same, but not quite.  In the children’s version, the banners don’t quite meet. One further thing to note is that Harvey Bedford was a Freemason – the handshake is clearly a key component of the Freemason’s greeting.

 Back to Biographies page