Newsletter No. 5


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News Letter Number Five

Society of Edgar Families

Melbourne, Australia


Sir Edward Mackay Edgar, Boronet, the "Man with a Load of Millions" died in London on 7 Oct, 1934. Broken in health and utterly disillusioned, Sir Edward Edgar passed away in a tiny cottage in the Buckinghamshire Village of Chalfont St Giles, famous for its association with John Milton. There was a time when he was the biggest and bravest gambler in the City of London. He earned the nick-name of the "Man with the Load of Millions". Any venture which he promoted was safe for a million pounds, if the amount was needed. Yet he faces two bankruptcies and died in relative poverty.


A Canadian by birth, he made his first fortune by organising big hydro-electric combines. Coming to London, he carried through even larger deals in cotton, iron and steel, and shipbuilding, in association with the financial house of Sperling and Company. But a day came when his luck turned, and in 1925 he was unexpectantly declared bankrupt, his liabilities being 80,000 pounds. Sperling and Company helped him to pay his debts, but the shock to his credit proved too great. Henceforward he was a spent force. He was obliged to give up his home in Park Lane, and his country house, Merton Hall, Thetford. In 1931 he filed a petition in bankruptcy for the second time. After that time he lived very quietly at Chalfont St Giles, more or less forgotten by the City associates who followed his financial lead so eagerly, and even by those who used to enjoy his generous hospitality. Sir Edward said of the City of London in a moment of insight "If you win you're marvellous, and you will have friends standing in a queue a mile long. If you lose, it means facing the punishment - or death."


This prophetic pronouncement was made by Edgar in 1927, when he learned that his one time friend and associate "Jimmy" White, had poisoned himself. James White and "Mike" Edgar were both struggling to resuscitate waning fortunes, and they came into conflict over British controlled oilfields. White had large holdings, but was desperately in need of money for other projects. On a sudden, Edgar, who had seemed to be helping White to keep up the price of the shares, changed his tactics. He unloaded all his shares and White could not raise another pound on his own holdings owing to the depreciated price. White went down to his country house and put a pad soaked in chloroform over his face. "Mike" Edgar was fool enough to boast of his victory to a party of journalists in his flat in Mount Street, "It was a two years battle between "Jimmy" White and myself," he said. "And the one to lose was "Jimmy! It was rotten fighting an old friend, but it wasn't my fault. I didn't make the rules of the game."


The City of London didn't forget this ill-advised boasting, and it did not forget Edgar. For him finance was always a game, as he said on another occasion, "the greatest game in the world, this fighting with millions at stake." As a big gambler, he will long be remembered, but he did no real service in return for the immense sums of money which he took from the public and his influence was vicious, even if he did play the game of finance within the riles as he understood them. He showered costly gifts upon his friends, and his hospitality was unbounded, but he lacked the qualities which make for abiding success, even in financial juggling. His first big error was made early in the world war, when he sold out his holdings in the hydro-electric companies, which he really understood. They finally appreciated to about 4,000,000 pounds but he did not benefit. In the post-war boom he made more than one fortune, but he suffered huge


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losses. He was a leading figure in a syndicate which amalgamated cotton spinning companies, and his firm issued 3,000,000 pounds worth of debentures for Workman, Clark, and Company, of Belfast. But Edgar was mixed up in a deal which involved the purchase of Baldwins Ltd, for 3 pounds a share in cash. It plunged him and Sperling and Company into long and expensive litigation, in the course of which 845,000 pounds damages were paid to Baldwins. Mackay Edgar was a good shot, a fair tennis player, and a moderately successful owner of race horses. His only son was killed in a motor accident, so there was no heir to the baronetcy which he received in the height of his power.

Source: The Argus, Melbourne, 10 November 1934


Sir Edward Mackay Edgar was a son of Frank Edgar, of Montreal, Canada, and was born 27 February 1876. He married on 6 June 1902, Ethel Beatrice (CBE), daughter of John Pindar of Montreal. They had issue"

1.       John Fewster Mackay, born 10 June 1903, Killed 3 July 1925

1.       Catherine Beatrice, born 18 January 1905. Married on 8 April 1926, Edward Harvey, of the Manor House, West Tofts, Brandon, Suffolk, a son of WR Harvey of Ullington, Thetford, Norfolk. They have issue:


On 25 March 1920, the College of Heralds, London, recorded the arms of Sir Edward Mackay Edgar as follows:


Arms: Sable on a bend between two lozenges or each charged with and escallop gules a lion passant of the field. Mantling: Sable and or Crest: on a wreath of the colours, in front of a cross patea or, a dexter cubic and grasping in the hand a dagger, proper.

Badge: a sword and a pen, the points downward … … proper onfiled with a circlet… .

Words: "… … …"

Source: Vide Burke's "Peerage and Baronetage " and "Amorial Families" (1929) Fox-Davies



All our members will be sorry to know that Lieut Col JM Edgar has been very gravely ill. His friends are pleased at the steady recovery he is making and hope that it may not be long before he is quite restored in health. Pilot Officer Allan Edgar, a son of Lieut Col Edgar is at present on active service with the RAF and is probably the first of his surname called to active duty. We wish him many victories in the splendid Royal Air Force tradition.


The Future: The outbreak of War and its effects on the activities of the Society of Edgar Families was discussed at a meeting of the Executive Council on 7 October. It was decided to carry on the full work of the Society for the time being. The Executive Council believes that it is in the national interest that as little dislocation as possible should occur in the affairs of the individuals and associations. The slogan "Business as Usual" seems the best one for the present. If necessary, further decisions will be taken at a later date.

General Meeting: The next General Meeting will take place on Tuesday evening 24 Oct. Details will be advised by circular.


Keithock Edgars: Further large collections of material relating to the Edgar Lairds of Keithock have come forward from Canada. The gen-


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ealogy of the family is nearing completion, but it is possible that the declaration of war may make it necessary to hold up publication for some time.


Mr JK Edgar, of Toronto (Life Member) has loaned a number of excellent photographs of Keithock House, the seat of the Edgars in Forfarshire, Scotland. A set of three prints is available to interested members and associates, price 1/6. Application should be made to the Hon Secretary, 75a Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, Melbourne S2.


America hears of us: Mr Robert Munro Erwin, a descendant of Thomas Edgar, a cadet of Keithock, who journeyed to New Jersey, in 1718, and founded the family, settled at Edgarton, has joined the Society as a full member. Mr Erwin resides in New York and is a keen student of genealogy. With his help it may be possible to collect and publish a full history of the Edgars of USA at some future time. Our new member is connected to President Rooseveldt's family by marriage.



Gilbert Harold Edgar, Lieut RFA, of the "Thatched House," Solihill, Warwickshire, married, 18 September 1923, Eileen Victoria (born 18 April 1897), younger daughter of Sir Stuart Montagu Samuel, Bart, MP JP (1856-1926).

Source: Burke's "Peerage and Baronetage"

The actual derivation of the name Edgar is given by Alfred Wilfred Dellquest in his book "The Names of Ours" (1938)

ead = happy, blessed

gar = a spear, warrior

The origin is, of course, Saxon, and the name was often bestowed "with the hope that the bearer would grow up to be a distinguished warrior"

Source: Vide "News Letter (Number Four)


Edgar of Moffat

Mr David M Edgar, Belhaven, Brailfauld Gardens, Tollcross, Glasgow, supplies some further information regarding Robert Edgar, sixth son of John Edgar of Moffat, and brother of David Edgar of Pine Hills Station, Victoria, Australia.


Robert Edgar, (see news Letter No.1 p.23), born 17 June 1825; died aged 65 years. He married Anne Porteous, and had issue four sons and one daughter:

1.       James

2.       John

3.       Walter

4.       David. He married in 1884, Mary Macfarlane (aged 76 in 1939), and had issue one son and two daughters:

[1]      David Macfarlane. He married Annie Howie. Issue, Winifred

[1]      Isabella, d. unmarried

[2]      Annie (deceased). Married … Issue: Robert (RN), and Hazel

1. Grace


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A small gathering of Members enjoyed the hospitality of our President, the Hon WH Edgar MLC, on the night of 24 October 1939. Mr Edgar made his room at Parliament House available for the General Meeting and afterwards conducted those who attended to witness the proceedings in the Executive Council Chamber.


The General Meeting agreed that:


1. Arrangements for an outing be further discussed at the next General Meeting


2. Thanks be expressed to the President for offering to entertain members and their families at his lovely Upper Macedon home on the afternoon chosen for the outing.


3. That the duplicating machine purchased by Messrs William H Edgar and I Trentham-Edgar be acquired by the Society under the special terms of repayment offered.



New Zealand Members and Associate Members, because the Government of that Dominion has found it necessary to restrict the right of its citizens to buy overseas exchange, they recently found it difficult to remit subscriptions as they fall due.


The Society of Edgar Families is very proud of the support of the Edgars and their connections in New Zealand and hopes that it will long continue. Negotiations are now in hand which should result in an arrangement whereby all New Zealand subscriptions shall be invested in the Dominion until such time as the present difficulties are resolved.


A statement of the new position will be made in the January issue of the News Letter. Remittances may still be made by International Money Order but a declaration may be required from the sender.


Edgar of Longtown: The history of the Edgar family, formerly of Longtown, Cumberland and Riddings, will be appended to the next issue of the News Letter. William Edgar, a member of this family, became the sole proprietor of the world-famous firm of Swan & Edgar, located in Piccadilly, London for more than a century. The Vice-President of the Society of Edgar Families, Mr William H Edgar, who is the great-grandson and heir-male of William Edgar, has spent much time in recent years on the interesting task of collecting material relating to members of his family. From his notes a very worthwhile genealogy has been prepared for publication.


Edgar Family Badges: It has been decided to defer until a later date any decision to issue, or not to issue, membership badges.


Subscription Rates:

Members (per annum)






Associates (per annum)






Associate membership is available only to those residing at a distance of more than 25 miles from the GPO Melbourne. Associates may not vote at Meetings of the Society.


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Song written by Sir James David Edgar KCMG MP


Let other tongues in older lands

Loud vaunt their claims to glory

And chaunt in triumph of the past

Content to live in story.

Tho' boasting no baronial halls

Nor ivy-crested towers

What past can match they glorious youth

Fair Canada of Ours

Fair Canada

Dear Canada

This Canada of Ours.


We love those far-off ocean isles

Where Britain's monarch reigns

We'll ne'er forget the good old blood

That courses through our veins;

Proud Scotia's fame, old Erin's name

And haughty Albion's powers

Reflect their matchless lustre on

This Canada of Ours

Fair Canada

Dear Canada

This Canada of Ours.


May our Dominion flourish then

A goodly land and free

Where Celt and Saxon hand in hand

Hold sway from sea to sea

Strong arms shall guard our cherished homes

When darkest danger lowers

And with our life-blood we'll defend

This Canada of Ours

Fair Canada

Dear Canada

This Canada of Ours.


Published in "This Canada of Ours and Other Poems" (1893)

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