One of my husband’s great great grandfathers was Francis Gilbart Edwards (1848-1913).

He was born at St Erth, Cornwall, on 21 January 1848, youngest of the nine children of Thomas Edwards (1794-1871) and Mary née Gilbart (1805-1867).

Francis Gilbart Edwards was christened at the parish church of St Erth on 11 June 1848. On the christening documents his father’s occupation is given as carpenter.

Shortly after Francis’s birth the family emigrated to Victoria, arriving at Port Philip on the Lysander on 13 January 1849.

On 27 December 1870 Francis Gilbart Edwards married Caroline Ralph (1850-1896) in Ballarat. At the time of his marriage Francis’s occupation was declared to be farmer.

Francis and Caroline had ten children:

  • Edith Caroline (1871-1946), Greg’s great grandmother, born Ballarat, Victoria
  • Lucy Gilbart (1873-1908) born Ballarat
  • Helena Mary Francis (1876-1950) born Ballarat
  • Annie Tuckfield (1879-1906) born Port Adelaide, South Australia
  • Elizabeth Christina (1881- ) born Gladstone, South Australia
  • Ethel Augusta (1885-1963) born Kensington, South Australia
  • Benjamin Gilbart (1887-1888) born Ballarat, died Richmond, Victoria
  • Stanley Gilbert (1889-1917) born Richmond
  • Ernest Francis Gilbart (1891-1901) born East Brunswick, died Brighton
  • Arnold Leslie Morton (1893-1904) born Brighton, died Elsternwick

The oldest three children of Francis and Caroline were born in Ballarat. Sometime between 1876 and 1879 the family moved to South Australia, and three more children were born there. A seventh child was born in Ballarat in 1887. Not long afterwards the family moved to Melbourne. In March 1888 their then youngest son died in Richmond. Three more sons were born in Melbourne. From the place of birth information on their birth certificates, it appears that the family moved from Richmond to East Brunswick, Victoria. In 1893 the youngest child, Arnold, was born in Brighton and died a year later in Elsternwick. (Richmond, East Brunswick, Brighton, and Elsternwick  are suburbs of Melbourne.)

On 1 December 1887 Francis joined the railways as a carriage cleaner.

In 1894, due to ‘a reduction in his wages and sickness in the family’, Francis became insolvent.


NEW INSOLVENTS. (1894, February 3). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), p. 10. Retrieved from

On 22 July 1896, after six week’s illness, Caroline Edwards died of cancer of the uterus. At the time the Edwards were living in Grant Street, Brighton.


Ethel Augusta Edwards & James McCorkell 1911

Francis Gilbert Edwards, seated on the left, was photographed at the 1911 wedding of his daughter Ethel Augusta Edwards to James McCorkell


On 29 March 1913 Francis, who had been ill for twelve months, died of  diabetes, at Primrose Crescent, Brighton. His occupation was given as railway employee.

Francis Edwards died intestate. His estate, valued at £1076:13:1, included two houses, one at Primrose Crescent Brighton and the other at Male Street Brighton. Each was valued at 500 pounds. Also in his estate was money in the bank, a gold watch, jewellery, and a cow.

Gilbart, the maiden surname of Francis’s mother, has often been used in the family as a given name. Francis Edwards used it consistently as his second personal name. There have been variant spellings. My mother-in-law Marjorie insisted that Gilbart should be spelled with an ‘a’ rather than an ‘e’. Her mother, granddaughter of Francis, was christened Stella Esther Gilbart Dawson. Sometimes, however, the name is spelled ‘Gilbert’, perhaps because of a recording error and at other times perhaps quite deliberately. Stanley Gilbert Edwards (1889-1917), a son of Francis Gilbart Edwards, spelled it with an ‘e’ when he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in World War 1 and when he married.


Related posts