The following notes were supplied to me by a family member;
Edgecombe Thomas Ward was born in 1826 in Holborn, London. He was the son of James Daniel Ward and Lucy Edgecomb, who was descended from the Earls of Edgcomb in Cornwall. Family anecdote says Edgecombe walked from London to the Forest of Dean determined to make his own way in life. He became a collier, working in one of the many small coal mines there. His sharp brain was noticed and he became an overseer involved in the sale of the coal. He married his first cousin, Maria Jarrett in 1855 aged 29 in Lydney, Gloucestershire, The very next year he moves to Stroud, having seen a need to establish a coal merchants there. Shortly after his arrival, around 1860, he helps to establish the Brethren church there. There were 12 live births for Maria but she died in 1869 during her last childbirth. Six children survived to adulthood, including E.T. Ward junior.
E T Ward remarried in 1872, an Elizabeth Tunley from Northampton, a notable Brethren family. They have five more children, one boy and four girls. It is notable that the children from the first wife do not stay at home nor inherit the family business – several of them emigrate to the USA. E T Ward junior is seen lodging in Stroud in his late teens and becomes a mechanical engineer, moving to Northern England and several different towns before eventually settling in Gloucester. Family anecdotes say the children of the first marriage were treated harshly by their step-mother and they rebelled against the Brethren church. E T Ward senior effectively shunned them for the rest of his life, the youngest son Richard Tunley Ward inheriting the family coal business which had now grown to a huge concern, bringing coal in from the Forest of Dean by their own canal boats and shipping coal outwards in their own railway wagons.
Richard Tunley Ward became a leading light in the Brethren church at Stroud. He married and had three daughters, none of whom married. After Richard died the spinster daughters owned the coal business with an under-manager dealing with all business matters. Local anecdotes recall the three sisters well, they remained devoutly Brethren and lived together in the old family home at Dudbridge near Stroud. Becoming elderly they sold the family business, still trading as E T Ward, about 1970. Locals recall the large coal yard as a prominent feature of Stroud, as there was a huge boulder of Anthracite that had stood at the yard gates for many years – when the yard was closed it was broken up and given to needy people of the town who still had coal fires!