Newsletter No. 11


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News Letter Number Eleven

Society of Edgar Families

Melbourne, Australia




“The Family tradition is that early in the last century [This was written in the 19th Century, Ed] four brothers of the name emigrated from North Britain, three of whom were settled respectively at Castlewallan, Saintfield and Newtownards. They were farmers, and not in very affluent circumstances.


John Edgar was born at Ballykine, near Ballynahinch, No baptismal registry was formerly kept in many Irish Presbyterian Congregations, and the exact date of his birth cannot now be ascertained. When advanced in life he was often involved in controversy; and on one public occasion he said playfully that his Mother had brought him forth “A man of contention”, as she had introduced him into the world in the year of the Rebellion. His native neighbourhood was the scene of the most important struggle which then took place in Ulster; and on the 13 July 1798, when the conflict raged between the insurgents and the Royal troops, there lay hard by in the cradle an infant a few months old, whose memory will survive as long as the fame of the  battle of Ballynahinch.


The Rev Samuel Edgar, DD., father of John Edgar, was connected with the Secession Church. Though less eminent than his son, he was a man of highly respectable talents and attainments. he occupied a high position in the esteem of his ministerial brethren. they appointed him Clerk in their Synod, and the Profession of Divinity”.

[From the opening chapter of Killen’s “Memoir of John Edgar, DD LLD” [1867]; published in the News Letter by courtesy of the Hon W H Edgar, MLC].


The extract above is supported by a letter written by Doctor John Edgar to Lawrence Archer dated at Belfast 16 January 1864, and published in “An Account of the Sirname [sic] of Edgar”, 1868 and 1873 [page 147].


Dr Edgar says:


“The tradition of our family is that four brothers came to Ulster, one of whom joined the Army; another settled near Castlewellan, where his descendants spell their name AGAR; a third settled in Co., Down and my branch at Saintfield in the same County”.


The Grampian Club’s publication, “The Scottish House of Edgar” [1873], page 23, also refers, in general terms, to the Irish Edgars. A paper in the possession of the Hon W H Edgar, MLC., apparently prepared with the sanction of the Historical Society of Illinois, USA, also throws some light on the origin of the Ulster Edgars and suggests links in America:


“Four brothers crossed to Ireland in the reign of William III, the youngest of whom settled in Guilford. He had two sons, one of whom was the father of Samuel Edgar.”


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“The Illinois Historical Society has made enquiry through the American Consul to this City of Belfast concerning the Ancestry of Captain John Edgar; one of the notable pioneers of that State. He went to the British Colonies in North America, now the USA. He may have landed in Boston, as he married his first wife there. Later he must have gone to the Lake Region, for in an affidavit he made in 1781 he says that he commanded a vessel belonging to the King of Great Britain on Lakes Huron and Erie from 1772-5 and that he then gave up that command and went into trade, that is in August, 1779. In 1798, for special services rendered, the was granted by the American Congress a tract of 2240 acres of land in what is now Illinois, but in 1784 he and his wife went to Kaskaskia, Illinois, then the most important town in that region, where he built the finest house in the then territory of Illinois, wherein he spent the remainder of his life. He amassed a large fortune and was one of the most notable men of his time.”




Rev Samuel Edgar was a graduate of the University of Glasgow. He was Succession Minister at Ballynahinch; Professor of an Academy there and Professor of Divinity to Sesession Synod, D D of Union Coll., USA., 1820. He died 17 September 1820/

[Glasgow Univ. Roll, 1727-1897]


A full story of the life of the Rev John Edgar, [1798-1866] appears in the Dictionary of National Biography. He was educated partly at the University of Glasgow and partly at Belfast. In 1826 he succeeded his father as professor of theology, retaining his post until 1848. In 1836 he was the recipient of the degree of D D from Hamilton Coll., USA and in 1860 was given the degree of LLD by the University of New York. At the third meeting of the general assembly of the United Presbyterian Church of Ireland [in 1842] he was elected Moderator. He wrote no book of any magnitude, but the most important of his pamphlets and addresses were collected in a volume and published under the title of “Select Works of John Edgar, DD LLD”. This volume embraces twenty-five pamphlets on temperance and seventeen on the other philanthropic schemes that engaged his attention. His “Cry from Connaught” was the most pathetic piece he ever wrote, and inaugurated his Connaught Mission. John Edgar is best remembered as the father and founder of the Temperance Reformation in Europe.






An article dealing with Ulster Edgar families in Australia is in preparation and will appear in a future issue of the News Letter.




The fourth Annual General Meeting of our family Society took place at the Railways Institute, Flinders Street, Melbourne on the evening of 3 April 1941. In the unavoidable absence of the President, the Hon W H Edgar, MLC., from whom an apology was received, the Vice President, Mr William H Edgar, JP, took the chair.




In his Report the Chairman made a plea for the better use by members of the large collection of Edgar references which had been built u[ since the foundation of the Society in February 1937 and which are in the care of the Hon Secretary. These references now number several thousands and are being continually added to; they should enable Members interested in research into their own pedigrees to locate material likely to assist them still further. The Chairman spoke of the steady progress which the Society continues to make and drew attention


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to the fact that there are now, for the fir t time, more than fifty members and associate members located throughout Australia and in New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain and the USA. The work of the War Comforts committee deserved the fullest support of all those connected with the Society and he hoped that the Committee would soon be able to dispatch a further consignment of parcels to our menfolk serving overseas. The Chairman extended his good wishes to the Society and expressed his conviction that even greater progress would be made in the year ahead. He went on to speak warmly of the successful work which had been done by the Hon. Secretary throughput the year, and which, though exacting, had produced outstanding results.


On the Motion of Mrs Keith Nicholson, Seconded by Mr RH Edgar, the Report was formally accepted.



The Hon Auditor, Mr R H Edgar, presented the statement of Accounts. In a short summary he remarked that it was worthy of notice that the somewhat heavy expenditure under the heading of “Stationery” had been due to a wise policy of building up stocks of materials which were likely to advance steeply in price. The expenditure had been otherwise normal and the amount available from subscriptions had shown a healthy increase. The fact that a useful credit balance was revealed reflected credit upon the Hon Treasurer’s careful administration.


On the motion of Mrs Keith Nicholson, seconded by Mr O S Edgar, the statement of Accounts was formally accepted.



During proceedings votes of thanks were passed honouring the Vice President, Hon Auditor Hon Secretary, and Treasurer and to Lieut Col J M Edgar for his kindness in providing apparatus which permitted Mr I Trentham-Edgar’s lecture to be most interestingly illustrated. The lecturer chose as his subject, “An Outline of Edgar History”. The derivation of the name Edgar was explained and the connection of the Edgars of Wedderlie with King Edgar of England [died 975AD] was made clear. A list of Edgar pioneers in Australia was given at the conclusion of the lecture.




The following were elected to the Offices named:



Hon William Haslam Edgar, MP [re-elected]

Vice Presidents:

1.         William Herbert Edgar, JP [re-elected]


2.         Otho Swan Edgar [new appointment]

Hon Secretary and Treasurer:

Ian Trentham-Edgar FSAG [re-elected]

Hon Auditor:

Robert Halbert Edgar [re-elected]


            1. Mrs A J Burgess [new appointment]


            2. Mrs Keith Nicholson [re-elected]


3.         Miss Elizabeth Edgar [new appointment]




Admitted to membership of the Society:

Miss Elizabeth Edgar, of Coburg, Vic

Private Frank Finlay Edgar, AIF Abroad





Members of the Society of Edgar Families have been intimately concerned in a recent move to inaugurate a Society of Victorian Genealogists in Victoria. The Society was formed at a Meeting held in the Assembly Hall, Collins Street, Melbourne on 17 March 1941, and is being influentially supported. This new body will work with similar Societies in London and Sydney and will have its headquarters in Melbourne. As reference library is to be assembled and members will be assisted


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in the recording of family histories. The new Society intends also to do everything within its powers to prevent the destruction of manuscript material likely to be of value to our present and future historical students. War-time demands for “waste-paper” have already resulted in deplorable losses of such material.



The War Comforts Committee met on 29 January and 4 Mar. A further batch of parcels is to be sent overseas in April. At present several members are engaged in knitting articles for inclusion in these parcels abut our circle of knitters must be widened if all demands are to be satisfied. More and more of our men are going overseas and their needs require our fullest consideration. Wool for knitting may be obtained free of charge, from the Hon Secretary to the Committee, Miss Margaret Edgar, Box 2630X, GPO, Melbourne. All donations should be sent to Miss Edgar. Many who cannot assist our cause actively have sent along donations with which the Committee has bought wool and useful articles for the parcels.


The following additional names of men overseas have been received:


2nd Echelon 10938 Sgt Stanley James Edgar, D. Coy; 29th Batt, 7th Int Brigade, 2nd NZEF, Overseas [son of James Edgar, Riverside, Tapanui, NZ]


2ndEchelon 10932, Alvan H Edgar, Private, Reinforcement Goy, 23 Rifle Batt., 2nd NZEF, Overseas

[grandson of Adam Edgar of Tapanui, NZ]


VX.34183 Frank Finlay Edgar, Private, 1st Aust., Corps, Petrol, No. 2 Sub-Park., AIF Abroad

[son of Robt M Edgar, 10 High St., Kew,Vic]


VX.1504 O E Edgar, Private, No. 1 Platoon; HQ Co., 70 Batt., AIF Abroad

[son of W R Edgar, 2 Walter St., Sth Yarra]






The Hon. Secretary has received fro the Post Master General a letter addressed to Mrs J Edgar, Box 1937R, Melbourne, Australia which could not be delivered through the post office. The addressee has not yet been identified. The writer is Lieut. Vivian Cunningham of B. Coy., 13th Cameronians, Ardrossan, Scotland who, under date 21 December 1940 states that it is three years since he received a letter from Mrs Edgar. Can any reader identify the addressee?






News Letter No. 9, p73: Mr and Mrs Alfred Herbert Owen, of Carrum, Victoria have had issue a son, Edgar Herbert, born 9 September 1940. Mrs Edgar is a Member of the Society of Edgar Families.






Mr S L Officer

We extend our sympathy to the widow and children of the late Mr Sydney Linden Officer who died early in February last. Mr Officer was born at Brighton, Vic in 1874 and was a grandson of Sir Robert Officer, first medical officer at Hobart. His father Mr Charles Officer, a well known pastoralist, represented Dundas in the Legislative Assembly. Mr Officer had extensive landed interests in the Goroke district and later bought Oakbank Station,


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near Heywood. He was a member of the Portland Shire Council for six years and was twice Mayor of the borough of Hamilton.


Mr Officer was at one time secretary of the Graziers’ Federal Council, Australian Woolgrowers’ Council, Australian Sheep-breeders’ Society and the Australian Wool Board. In 1922 he joined the staff of the Graziers’ Association and, in 1928, was appointed Secretary, he was Secretary of the first Empire Wool Conference in1931. and of another Conference in 1937 when an International Wool Secretariat was established.


Mr Officer married Margaret Swan Edgar, second daughter of Mr and Mrs John Thomas Edgar, formerly of Kadnook Station, near Harrow, Vic., and granddaughter of David Edgar [1812-94] the Western District pioneer who took up Pine Hills Station, Harrow in 1850.


Mr Officer is survived by his widow and two sons:


1.       Charles Sidney Officer, died in childhood

2.       Mr Mervyn Vivian Officer, a Commercial Artist, and

3.       Mr Vernon Wicker Officer, who succeeded his father as Secretary of the Graziers’ Association.








Born 6 August 1815; eldest son of Rev John Edgar, of Hutton, Berwickshire, Scotland. Educated at Edinburgh University. Doctor of Law. A student of the Middle Temple, 2 May 1839; called to the Bar 6 June 1845. Member of the South Eastern Circuit, draftsman under the Statute Law Commission, 1855-7. Secretary of the Law Amendment Society, 1858-67. Common Law Editor in the “Weekly Report”, 1852-62; and of the “Law Magazine”, 1865-70.


He married, firstly, on 2 January 1850, Mary Ann, widow of Professor Everitt, and daughter of Elhanan Bicknell, Esq., of Herne Hill, Surrey; and secondly, on 23 June 1864, Emily Elizabeth, youngest daughter of the late Humphrey Ballard, of London. Member of the Reform Club. Resided at Uplands, Stoke Poges, Slough. He had issue an only son:


LOGAN BICKNELL EDGAR BA., Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1873. A student of Middle Temple, 25 January 1871. Called to the Bar 17 November 1875.

[“Handlist of Men at the Bar”, Joseph Foster [1885] p.136]




The Council of the Genealogical Society of Victoria have agreed to permit the Society of Edgar Families to make use of that Society’s room on the second floor, Kelvin Hall Building, 55 Collins Street, Melbourne. A Meeting of our Executive Council will take place there on Tuesday 7 October at 8pm. Plans for the Quarterly General Meeting will be discussed and a Meeting or the War Comforts Committee will follow.


A number of pedigrees and maps of particular interest to members of this Society are at present on view as part of a small Genealogical Exhibition arranged by members of the Genealogical Society of Victoria. Members of this Society who may wish to see these exhibits should ring WX 2807 [Mr William H Edgar].


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