Victorian newspaper proprietor,
publisher and entrepreneur
The flip side of the family's reticence about Edward's life is the proliferation of curious stories about him. Some have an element of truth.
Edward's ancestral origin was in North Wales, but he was born in Thornton Heath in Surrey. Family myth had Edward, son of a yeoman farmer in Betws-y-Coed, walking to London ŗ la Dick Whittington.
A more damaging myth is that Edward confined Isabella to an asylum. There is no evidence that this was true, but none to rebut it either. She may have suffered from mental illness after the loss of their infant son, Alfred, in 1843, but that also is speculation.
Another family belief is that Edward had many more children than he acknowledged. For example, three children born in Kent in the years 1879-81 have been attributed to him.
Although the possibility cannot be ruled out, it seems unlikely. He was solicitous of the welfare of 18 children. He had a common name, and the aspersion is more likely to be part of the mud-slinging that wrote him off as a philanderer.
One improbable myth has a gypsy maid giving birth to yet more children. A more believable version has the maid giving birth, then Maria bringing the children up as her own. This draws some support from an even more fragile myth Ė that Maria spent most of her time travelling and only came home to deliver a child or conceive the next.
This colourful myth of mixed maternity seems rather unnecessary. Would Edward, let alone Maria, want more children just for the sake of adding to their number?
To the modern mind, bearing 15 children in 19 years goes beyond human endurance. However, heroic child-bearing on that scale was far from unusual at the time, and Maria did not live to a great age.
Yet it is also conceivable that Edward added the gypsy maid to his scorecard for serial monogamy and had further children simply because that is what happens.
Edward Lloyd's life and times
Edward Lloyd was born on 16 February 1815 into a modest family. His father was in trade in the City of London and no stranger to the bankruptcy court.
He was the youngest of three sons. Nigel Lloyd's research suggests a family with the attitudes of the middle class, albeit without the financial security that would normally have gone with it. The children may have been encouraged to aim high. His eldest brother, Thomas, made a successful career in medicine but the middle son, William, died in poverty.
Edward's education to the age of 14 was fairly generous at a time when the poor received little or no schooling. He was intelligent, energetic and enterprising, and claimed to have started on his life's career of publishing as soon as he left school.
The law may have been intended for him. However, while working in a solicitor's office, he attended classes at the London Mechanics' Institute. These proved to be much more to his taste. He won a silver pen as prize for best student of the year, and treasured it all his life. When he abandoned the law office is not known.
For many years, he lived in rooms on the periphery of the City. He married Isabella McArthur in 1834 and they had two sons who survived into adulthood. They stayed together at least until 1843 when a third son born in the previous year died in infancy. Isabella became ill, they separated and Edward took over the upbringing of his two sons.
Frederick, Edward's son by another mother, Mary Harvey, was born in 1845. Nothing is known of her apart from her name. She may have died or left but, in any event, Frederick was brought up by his father.
At the 1851 census, Edward was living at the same address as Maria Martins. Their first child, Annie, was born in 1853. They went on to have 14 more.
Maria seems to have had a benign influence on Edward's financial management. Indeed, the chronology suggests the possibility that she had some influence on his ascent into the moneyed classes.
Edward had resolved to get his business in order after a second brush with bankruptcy in 1848. In 1852, he appointed the respected author and playwright, Douglas Jerrold, to be Lloyd's Weeklyís editor. In 1854, he published his last romance. Then, in 1856, he could afford to buy the 100-acre Winns estate in Walthamstow. The house was the fine Georgian mansion, now the William Morris Gallery, that is familiar to Londoners heading east on Forest Road.
Edward and Maria lived as man and wife. In 1867, after 11 of their children had been born, his wife Isabella died. He and Maria quietly married in Essex within three weeks.
With this irregular marital status threatening the social standing to which his family could now aspire, it seems probable that the full story of Edward's life was suppressed, most likely by the family. This must have contributed to the erasure of his achievements from the record, making way for his detractors in the 20th century to sully his reputation.
Ever more prosperous, the family was moving from the bourgeoisie into a full-blown London society life. Their daughter Emily was later presented at court, for instance.
Whether for this reason or for convenience, the Lloyds moved to Delahay Street in Westminster in 1885. This was in the parish of St Margaretís Church, Westminster. The whole family showed great dedication to church and parish. Two of the daughters, Annie and Clara, married curates at the church, R A Bullen and F E Coggin.
In 1889, Edward suffered what may have been a heart attack while working on a major reorganisation of Lloyd's Weekly. Once over the worst, he continued to supervise operations and, after convalescing at his house in Caterham, he returned to London, went on working, wrote his will and the family trust deed, and created Edward Lloyd Ltd so that the business could be passed on to his children in an orderly way.
Edward Lloyd died on 8 April 1890. His funeral was held at St Margaretís with the help of his two sons-in-law. The flowers and wreaths from family, friends and employees were so plentiful that a second hearse had to be used to take them to Highgate Cemetery. Maria died on 28 July 1893, aged 63.
Highgate Cemetery West
Edward and Maria share the tomb at the left. It is positioned at the crest of the hill