Edward Joseph Berry (1872-1948)

Edward Joseph Berry (1872-1948)

  • Born Liverpool, Lancashire, England
  • Died Liverpool, Lancashire, England
  • Married 1893 in Liverpool to:

Alice Riley (1874-1954)

  • Born Liverpool, Lancashire, England
  • Died Liverpool, Lancashire, England
  • Fifteen children

Edward Berry was christened in St. Peter's Church of England in the heart of Liverpool in 1872. But a few days after his 24th birthday, in 1896, Edward converted to the Roman Catholic faith of his Irish wife. He was baptized as an adult at St. Joseph's Catholic church close to his home and adopted the middle name of Joseph. The full name is on his gravestone.

EDWARD JOSEPH BERRY and his younger brother, Thomas, were the only ones of the  five sons of Edward and Sidney Berry to live to adulthood. Two of their brothers died as infants - the first after six weeks of life died of convulsions, and the second from pneumonia at 17 months. A third brother, William, died from scarlet fever at the age of six. 

The remaining two boys grew up together, but Thomas was still at school when Edward, age 19 and eight years his senior, followed their father into the carter business. It was a time when carters were in their heyday in Liverpool. For well over two centuries, they had shifted goods to and from the seven-mile stretch of docklands along the River Mersey to the city's warehouses and businesses.

Edward Berry with Sam Dawson and Eddie Berry
Photo: Otterson-Berry family album.

Above: Edward Joseph Berry (right), with Sam Dawson (center). The man on the left is believed to be his son, Edward.

According to  the Museum of Liverpool, "At their peak more than 20,000 horses worked on the streets of Liverpool, more than in any other city outside London. There was no direct railway connection to most of the seven mile dock estate, so goods had to be carted out of the docks to warehouses or to railway goods stations. Liverpool carters and their horses kept supply lines open during two World Wars and their contribution to the city’s economy was immense."

Edward had never known any other home than 42 Clement Street near Liverpool's dockland, and in his entire life he would remain in the neighborhood. It was a busy, bustling area, densely packed with Irish Catholic families who had flooded into the city in the years since the Great Famine caused by the potato crop failure in Ireland.

Carthorse monument, Liverpool
Photo: Michael Otterson

Above: Liverpool Museum monument at the redeveloped Albert Dock to the cart horses and their drivers who were once so vital to Liverpool's economy,

And yet, even though Edward's mother had been one of those poor Irish immigrants, the Berry family could see as as the century drew to its close that it had done well from the carting business. Edward snr. even employed a domestic servant - a 39-year-old widow who lived with them in the early 1890s after they moved house to nearby Kew Street.

In 1893 at the age of 21, Edward married Alice Riley, a sailor's daughter. She was also from an Irish Catholic famiy, but they were married at All Saints Church of England.  We have no record of the conversatons that must have gone on between Edward and Alice, and probably between their families, on the matter of religion. To be Catholic in Liverpool at this time was to be classed with the city's Irish. If you were Protestant, you were on the other side of a cultural divide. Yet many Catholics and Protestants intermarried, often with the understanding that the children would be raised Catholic.

Whatever the reason, Edward took the unusual step at the age of 24 of being baptized into the Catholic church as an adult. His baptismal record from St Joseph's church, written by the priest in Latin, has a margin note:  "Conversus ad fidem sub con baptizalus," which loosely translates as "Converted to the faith through baptism."

Alice Riley Berry
Photo: Otterson-Berry family album

Above: Alice Riley Berry
Below:  Baptismal record from St. Joseph's RC church, 1896.

Edward Berry adult baptism
Image: St Joseph's parish baptism records

While their first home was in Collingwood Street, by the turn of the century Edward and Alice had moved a short distance to 35 Penrhyn Street and they already had six children - four girls and two boys. The 1901 census gives us a snapshot of what the area must have looked like. The street is full of carters, dock laborers, canvas bag makers, fruit and fish hawkers, and people working at the local sugar factory or gas works. From the docks to the nearby Leeds-Liverpool Canal and beyond to Vauxhall Road was an area of bustling industry. Still further east of Vauxhall Road, industry gave way to crowded housing. Today, the area has been transformed and redeveloped, although light industry and some commercial premises remain. New housing communities have significantly improved the area.

According to the same 1901 census, both Edward and Thomas are in the carting business. Thomas, 21 and single, is still living with his parents in Kew Street, along with the boys' uncle, John Reed, age 52,  also  a carter.  Kew and Penrhyn streets lay on either side of the large St. Anthony's Catholic church, only three or four minutes' walk apart.  They would probably have stabled their horses nearby. Purpose-built stables in residential areas were a necessity with so many carthorses in the city.

Edward and Alice's family continued to grow rapidly. Like many families before and after the turn of the century, the couple lost some of their children to the infant diseases that especially plagued working class areas with their poor sanitary conditions. But most of their huge flock of 15 children survived to adulthood (see panel at foot of page).

Edward's mother, Sidney Reed Berry, died of bronchial pneumonia the age of 64 in 1904, but a heavier blow was yet to come. Brother Thomas contracted tuberculosis and died in a Liverpool infirmary at only 30 years of age. He left a wife, Ellen, and five children, with ages ranging from seven years to a few weeks.  Thomas's death left Edward as the only surviving child of his parents.

Edward and Alice, however, would enjoy a long life together. Edward died in 1948 at the age of 75, while Alice died in her 80th year. Both are buried in Liverpool's Ford cemetery, together with their son, John.

Berry, Edwards and Alive, gravestone
Photo: Michael Otterson

Relationship of Edward Joseph Berry to Webmaster 
        (Edward Joseph Berry is the grandfather of Catherine Berry Otterson)

       Edward Berry (born 1844) md. Sidney Reed
   Edward Joseph Berry (born 1872) md. Alice Riley 
        William Berry (born 1903) md. Annie Giles 
      Catherine Berry Otterson (living) - Webmaster

Children of Edward Joseph Berry and
Alice Riley, and age at death*

Elizabeth Jane (1893-1972) - Age 78
Ellen (1893-
Edward Berry (1895-
Catherine (1897-1970)
Alice Ann (1899-1982) - Age 83
Thomas (1900-1902) - Age 18 months
Mary (1902-1986) - Age 83
William (1903-1961) - Age 57
John (1906-1940) - Age 34
Margaret (1908-
Anne (1910-
Sarah (1912-2006) - Age 93
Patrick (1914-1914) - Age 2 weeks
Joseph (1914-1966) - Age 51
Peter (1915-1977) - Age 62

*Elizabeth Jane and Ellen may have been the same person, in which case there is one additional child, not identified.