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Brentford Councillors - Edwin Underwood


Janet McNamara has researched details of the men who served as Brentford Local Board Members and Councillors, see intro page for more details of early local government structure.

Edwin Underwood JP

Mr Underwood was a member and several times Chairman of the early Brentford Local Board and Brentford Urban District Council and his name appears on the dedication stones at the Baths (1895), Fire Station (1897), the Library (1903) and the Market Extension (1905) when he was the Chairman of the Market Committee. This stone is now at Western International Market.

For 25 years he was treasurer of the Rothschild British School and for 20 years was captain of the Boston Park Cricket Club of which he been one of the founders.

He was a Liberal and a member of the Wesleyan Methodist Church.

He was born in Ower, Eling in Hampshire about 1839. His parents were Richard and Mary and in the 1841 census his father is an Innkeeper. He had 3 older brothers and 1 sister.

In 1851 Richard (36) was shown as Victualler and Edwin (13) is described as Ďgrandsoní although I donít think that can be so. Mary was 36, daughter Caroline (23) was a general servant and son James (14) a scholar. There was a Visitor relation, other children, a servant and 2 Lodgers also resident.

Edwin seems to have been employed by a carrier in the West Country.

On May 4th 1858 he married Sarah Pearman at Old Swinford, Worcester. Their son Harry Thomas was baptised on April 24th 1859 at Old Swinford and by the 1861 census they were living at Amblecote, Staffs. Harry was 2 and they had 2 Boarders and a servant and Edwin was a Railway Agent.


Brentford Dock had opened in 1859 and in 1865 Edwin became Superintendant of Brentford Docks station.

In the 1871 census the family are living at Wear Cottage in Ealing Lane. They have a daughter A Maud aged 2 who had been born in Ealing and 1 servant. Edwin is shown as Railway Clerk. Harry was away at school at the Wesleyan College, Trull.

This was the year Edwin left employment with the Great Western Railway and set up in business at 79, High Street as a Hay, Straw and Coal merchant with the business being carried on at Brentford Dock.

The 1881 census shows that Edwin (42) and Harry (22) are both Coal Merchants with Sarah (41) and daughter Annie M (13) and a boarder (a dressmaker) and a lodger (a coachman) living at Mailbox Cot, Syon Lane.

By 1888 they had moved to live at 80, High Street and E Underwood and Son Coal Merchants, Colliery Agents and hay salesmen were at number 79 and became a limited company.

By 1894 when Edwin became a member of the Brentford Urban District Council and a Justice of the Peace the company had premises at the railway yard in Lionel Road near Kew Bridge and by 1890 at Brentford Market and were employing 300 people and using over 100 horses for delivery of goods in London.

A large part of the business was the importation from abroad of forage for horses. The company developed a factory at Soissons in France employing Brentford people there.


There is a history of the company in Chiswick Library which points out that Edwin had been President of the local Liberal Association and was an enthusiastic cricketer, a member of Surrey County Cricket Club and had been captain of Boston Park Club.

His son, Harry married Caroline Hall at St Clements Dane, Westminster on October 19th 1882 and daughter Annie married Walter Fisher Ward at the Wesleyan Chapel, Windmill Road on November 4th 1893. According to the full report of the event listing the guests and presents in the Middlesex Independent newspaper this had been postponed from the previous September due to her serious illness.

By 1896 Harry and his family had moved in to 80, High Street and at the time of the 1901 census Edwin, Sarah and 2 servants were living at 14, Boston Road. He is shown as a Hay Merchant.

On March 6th 1915 as he left his office he had an accident in the High Street with the report of the inquest very fully reported in the Middlesex Independent. It was pointed out that he was hard of hearing and seemed to have stepped out in front of the car.

His date of death is recorded as March 6th 1915 although reports say that he dies a couple of days after the accident. Probate was granted to his widow, Sarah. Effects £2,229.12.3d.

See further information about the family, the business (including a Hansard item from 1900) and 80, High Street.

Other material

Janet has also provided photos from his time of serving as a councillor (1888, 1894 and 1897), an example of his signature and death and funeral notices from the Middlesex Independent. To be added as time permits.


Page published October 2011