Edwin Williams and Holy Trinity Church

These stained glass windows were erected by Edwin Williams in 1905.
These stained glass windows were erected by Edwin Williams in 1905.

The following text appeared on page 12 of the Sydney Morning Herald (newspaper published in Sydney, Australia) on December 31st, 1904: “Mr. Edwin Williams has had made in Sydney a stained-glass window, which is to be erected in Dinting Anglican Church, near Manchester, England. The window is executed in antique glass, and is rich and harmonious in colouring. The inscription at the bottom of the window is as follows: – “These windows were erected by Edwin Williams to the glory of God and to the beloved memory of James Mather, of Dinting, and Sarah Mather Williams, his daughter, who died in Australia.”

So who was Edwin Williams and what was his link to Holy Trinity, Dinting Vale?

Holy Trinity Church, Dinting Vale, Derbyshire
Holy Trinity Church, Dinting Vale, Derbyshire in 2013

Holy Trinity Church is located in Dinting Vale just a short distance from Glossop in Derbyshire. The foundation stone was laid in 1873 and the consecration of the Church was conducted by Bishop Selwyn, Bishop of Lichfield on July 31st 1875.  The church building was funded by the Wood family. The designers and architects for the Church were Mills & Murgatroyd of Manchester and the main contractor was Mr Southern of Manchester.

Please note: Information about the church above was taken from a pamphlet written by Jack Hewitt.  This information can be seen at:   http://holytrinitydintingvale.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/history/

Edwin Williams was born in Wrexham, North Wales in 1848.  As the eldest surviving son, he became a stone mason like his father.  By the early 1870’s his family had moved from Wrexham to the Manchester suburb of Ardwick and in 1876 Edwin married Sarah Mather in Manchester.

Sarah Mather was born near Bury in Lancashire in 1852 and was the daughter of James Mather and Fanny Cross.  James was a Calico Printer who took his family to Scotland and Russia to pursue work in the new and expanding cotton industry.  In the 1871 census, James and Sarah are listed as living with James’ step-mother, Sarah, at 109 Dinting Vale, Glossop.  James’ father, Peter, had operated a grocery store on Dinting Vale road for some years but had passed away in 1868.  James’ wife Fanny had died in Russia in 1867, so it would make sense that James and Sarah would return to England and move in with James’ family.

The Cyclopedia of New South Wales 1907 lists the Holy Trinity Church, Dinting Vale as one of the projects superintended by Edwin whilst he was living in Manchester. It is presumed that he met Sarah Mather whilst working on the church. After their marriage, Edwin and Sarah moved to the Glossop area, started a family and attended Holy Trinity Church.  In the 1881 census they are living at Higher Dinting with their three children.  Sarah’s father James is also living with them.  A fourth child was born in 1881 just after the census.

James Mather died in November, 1881. Sadly, Edwin and Sarah’s eldest son, James Mather Williams (named after his grandfather), died the very next day.  James left Sarah a reasonable inheritance of 620 pounds and the family sailed for Australia the next August (presumably this inheritance helped with the cost of passage) aboard the Orient steamship s.s. Liguria as third class passengers. The Liguria left Plymouth (from London) on August 26, 1882 and arrived in Sydney on October 17, 1882.

Edwin and Sarah’s fifth child was born just one month after their arrival in Sydney.  By the time the next child was born in 1884, the family had settled at Erskenville Road, in the suburb of Newtown.  Edwin found plenty of work with local construction and architectural firms.  In 1896 he went into practice on his own as an architect (Edwin’s son Llewellyn was later sent to London and Paris to study and qualify as an architect).

Sadly, Edwin’s wife Sarah did not live long to see the family prosper in Australia.  She died in January 1889, just a couple of months after the birth of her last child, a daughter who only survived one month. Edwin was left a widower with six young children – he never remarried.

Edwin’s philanthropic efforts were not limited to the gift of the stained glass window.  He was one of the founders of the Newtown United Friendly Societies’ Dispensary (1887), holding the secretaryship from its inauguration until his death in 1924.