The newspaper report of the double wedding of the Aylward sisters on December 10 1872 records what a stir the event made in the little town and says that the church was filled to overflowing an hour before the commencement of the service.
Before recording the events concerning Edward Weller and his bride, it may be well to provide a brief note concerning the other couple, John Churchill and his wife Gertrude. After a honeymoon in Paris they returned to Chesham where he was destined to carry out the duties of a general practitioner for half a century. Two children were born, a son and a daughter. However the promise of a long and happy married life was not fulfilled for the mother died at the early age of thirty-one. Their son John, in due course followed his father into the medical profession but he died in China while still a young man. His death was caused by poison from a dog bite. His sister Mabel, was the devoted companion of her father during his long life, first at Chesham and in his subsequent years of retirement at Malvern, where he died aged 95. Mabel herself died in 1963.
Edward and Edith Weller settled in Amersham in a house opposite the family brewery, The White House. There in rapid succession were born three sons and three daughters - Fred, Mary, Margaret, Morton, Dorothy and Chris. When the sixth child had arrived it was realised that a larger house was called for. So in 1879 a move was made to Blackwell hall, three miles from Amersham and slightly less from Chesham. The family continued to increase and six more children were born during the next seven years, although two did not survive the day of their birth. The others were John (known as Jack), Richard (known as Dick), Arthur and Frank.
During the ten years at Blackwell Hall the early education of the children was provided by a nursery governess, whose task cannot have been easy as the children were at different stages of development. A time came when it was necessary for the older ones to go away to school. Accordingly Fred, Mary and Morton were sent to schools in Brighton. But each year the educational difficulties increased and in 1889 it was decided to move the whole family to Brighton. A house was secured (34 St Michael's Place) and schools selected for the various children, although by that time Fred and Morton had been sent as boarders to Crewkerne Grammar School, of which their uncle, Fred Weller, was Headmaster.
The father, Edward, began to divide his time between the care of his property in Bucks and residence in Brighton. This arrangement did not continue for long because he contracted pneumonia and died on June 10th 1890. He was then only 46 years of age. His widow was left with the task of caring for the family, the eldest of whom was sixteen and the youngest two-and-a-half.
After five years in Brighton the family moved again, this time to Bedford. The move was undertaken primarily because of the educational advantages the town had to offer. All five sons from Chris downwards were to become day-scholars of what was then Bedford Grammar School (and later Bedford School.)
The house at Bedford was to be the last family home. From it Fred and Morton set out to Canada (and later settled in the USA.) From it two daughters were to be married. Dorothy in 1902 - to a parson-schoolmaster, Harry Gill, and a year later Mary (known as Mollie) married Keith Michell, a son of Archdeacon Michell, a near neighbour. From this home too, Chris went to Cambridge University and Jack set out on his first trip overseas - to Ceylon [now Sri Lanka.]
From the moment her husband died Edith just gave herself to meet the needs of her children. A less brave woman would have been daunted by the task. 'Mother' was never daunted. A deeply religious woman, she met every difficulty - and there were plenty of difficulties during the next thirty years - with a calm serenity that never faltered. Her motto was 'Live one day at a time.' Her method, an every-growing reliance on God. Seldom during these years was there adequate domestic help, and always only just sufficient income to pay the expenses of educating and providing for her large family. Both at Brighton and at Bedford she found time to be a 'district visitor.' At least one afternoon every week was given to what used to be called 'church work' in one of the poorer parts of the town.
When the family home at Bedford ceased to be needed, in 1904, she made a home for Chris in the not over-attractive Derbyshire mining and industrial town of Heanor [where he was assistant curate.] Only as she became more and more interested in the district of Marlpool where her son was raising funds for and later seeing to the building of its own church, All Saints, did she lose the feeling of being in an alien environment. Once she had settled down she found happiness, particularly in her association with a very vigorous band of women workers.
As it was at Heanor and Marlpool, so in subsequent years it was to be when Chris moved to the slums of Nottingham, then to the colliery parish of Dordon in Warwickshire, and later to the Derbyshire village of Great Longstone. In each she won the deep respect of those whose lives she touched.
When Chris married she moved to a cottage two miles away in the village of Ashford. She found great joy in the coming of three grandchildren at Longstone. Finally, only a few months before her death, Chris moved to a parish in Nottingham and Edith secured a house in Longstone, where she passed her last months. She died in 1929, when she had reached her 79th year. By her own wish she was buried in the churchyard at the foot of Longstone Edge. Upon her gravestone are carved words she uttered more than once during her last hours "O Lord in Thee have I trusted." That phrase from the Te Deum gives the secret of her life - devout, unshakeable trust in God.
Perhaps what gave her greatest happiness in her latter years was that she had lived to see four of her sons enter the ordained ministry of the church of which she was such a devoted member.
[Notes by Chris Weller 1948, slightly amended.]
The AYLWARD family.
Adolphus Frederick AYLWARD was 7th of 10 children of Anthony AYLWARD (bapt 11 Jan 1789 in Corhampton, Hants, died 1852, Marylebone, London) and Sarah LOCKHART (widow, born ca 1785, Droxford, Hants, died before 1851) who married 30 Jan 1810 in Sherfield English, Hants, by licence. Anthony was 5th of 7 children of Thomas AYLWARD (died 11 Nov 1893, Corhampton) and Sarah HARRISON who maried 8 April 1778 in East Dean, Sussex. This Thomas was son of Anthony AYLWARD and Martha SIMMONS.