Edwin William Barratt Vincent (aka Edwin Beverley, the actor), was born in Redruth, Cornwall on June 7th 1881 to parents Edwyn Vincent (1858-1919) and his wife Elizabeth (nee Blamey) (1856-1934). He was the eldest of three children.
In 1891 he was at school in Redruth and had become the older brother of Lilian (1885) and Horace (1888).
In 1901 his occupation was lithographic artist and he was living with his mother and siblings in a boarding house, run by his mother, in Leicester. Soon after he became involved professionally in acting, against his parents’ wishes. His stage name was Edwin Beverley.
In the 1911 census he was registered as Edwin Beverley and living with his wife, the actress Agnes Gagan, in Stockport. Their 9 month old daughter, Vera, was with his parents in Sculcoates.
When the war broke out he was still on stage in March 1916. As his papers were destroyed during World War 2 I am guessing that he attested around then. He then became Private Edwin Vincent, 58392. Serving first with the 11th KLR then the 19th. He became a member of the 19th Battalion concert party known as The Duds.
On March 23rd 1918 he was declared killed in action in France. At the time the 19th Battalion were fighting around Fluquieres. The battalion had lost 11 officers and around 210 other ranks.
An interview given by his father at this time said ‘that for a considerable time he was in charge of the concert party, interspersed with arduous times in the trenches’.
According to an interview he gave in The Daily Independent, November 11, 1933 under the name of Edwin Beverley he had been wounded and taken prisoner at St Quentin. There followed eleven weeks of starvation in the German lines where they were employed in burying corpses and moving ammunition until finally being sent to Germany towards the end of June. With hundreds of others he spent four days on a train travelling to Stendal in cattle trucks. Food was “one so called meal a day consisting of a thin soup with no fat or meat.” He described the prisoners as “...emaciated, bearded creatures covered with sores....”. and added that “....many were huddled in curtains or tablecloths in place of overcoats.”
He went on to say that after a few weeks he was able to get around the camp and found that one of the huts was used once a week as a theatre and he was able to join the British section who gave performances every third week.
“It was at the close of performance Sunday, September 1, that I received my first letter from home and learned I had been mourned as dead for several weeks. It gave me a queer thrill to read my own obituary notices...”
When the Armistice was announced it took a while for the prisoners to believe the war was over. Their last performance was held in the Kino theatre in the town. A fortnight later they were on their way home.
After the war Edwin quickly went back to the stage. He died on November 30, 1940 having collapsed after a performance a few days previous.
His obituary noted that Mr Beverley had appeared in practically every form of entertainment: pantomime, revue, drama, Shakespeare and the music halls. He had written lyrics and music for songs and plays and had also taken on the role of stage manager.
Over the years he had been with the Danville stock companies, Osmond Tearles Shakespeare company, Alexander Marsh and Allen Wilkie.
He was survived by his wife. Sadly his daughter had died earlier in the year.
Grateful thanks are extended to Gaylene Falconer for providing this wonderful biography. Edwin was Gaylene’s cousin.