Linking the Jeweller’s chain through Trade Directories

Edward John Adams or Edward James Adams, featured in ‘Common Surname Trouble – Adams in Birmingham’, presented an identification challenge. This marriage appears to be his second.

Marriage Certiticate - Edward John Adams & Sarah Lucas nee Brain

Marriage Certiticate – Edward John Adams & Sarah Lucas nee Brain

Bride: Sarah Lucas, widow
Groom: Edward J Adams, widower, jeweller
Date: 2 June 1863
Location: Edgbaston, Birmingham
Groom’s father: James Adams, jeweller

A recap of evidence found so far

Evidence from census, birth and marriage records suggest that Edward John Adams, started out working as a butcher in the 1840s, then became a jeweller and retired around 1870.  He was widowed before 1861, so was free to remarry.  He had a son, also named Edward, born ca 1837.

Another younger Edward J Adams or Edward James Adams worked as a jeweller from the 1870s and had diversified into watch and clock making by the 1890s.  The ages of this Edward indicate a birth date ca 1837, which is consistent with him being Edward John’s son.

Event Year Name Age Occupation Address Household members
Marriage 1834 Edward Adams
Census 1841 30 Butcher 13 Sand Pits Mary (30), Edward (4), Sarah (6), Joseph (2), Maria (1)
Thomas’ Birth 1844 Edward John Adams Jeweller & Butcher
Emma’s Birth 1846 Butcher
Census 1851 Edward Adams 40 Jeweller 9 Branston St wife Mary (44), children Edward (14), Joseph (12), Jane (8), Thomas(6) and Emma (4), and brother George (27)
Census 1861 50 30 Kenion St widowed, children Edward (24), Joseph (22), Maria (21), Jane (19), Thomas (17), Emma (15), niece Sarah (27)
Thomas’ Marriage 1866 Edward James Adams
Census 1871 Edward J Adams 60 Retired Goldsmith Henwood Hall, Solihull wife Sarah (51)
Census 1881 70 Jeweller Spring Villa, Kingsbury Rd, Erdington wife Sarah (61)
Census 1871 Edward J Adams 34 Jeweller 76 Spencer St wife Emma (34), child Edward J (7), 1 servant
Census 1881 44 Avenue Rd, Acock’s Green wife Emma (44), child Edward (17), 1 servant
Census 1891 Edward James Adams 53 Clock & Watchmaker Sunny Side, Augusta Rd, Acock’s Green wife Emma (53), 1 lodger

The records that associate Edward senior with his second wife, Sarah, only give a middle initial J, leaving room for doubt about whether he is the same person the man who married Mary Foster in 1834.

Same person?

Using Ancestry’s ‘UK, Midlands and Various UK Trade Directories, 1770-1941’ collection and bearing in mind the caveats discussed in ‘Picking up the Tailor’s Thread through Trade Directories’,  careers and residences of the two men are summarised as follows:

Name Years Street Address Occupation
Edward Adams 1839, 1841 13 Lower terrace, Sand Pits Jeweller
1849 21 Unett St Butcher
1858 20 Anderton St Jeweller
1862 30 Kenion St
1866 Henwood Cottage, Solihull
Edward John Adams 1872, 1876, 1880, 1882 Tyburn, Erdington private resident
1884 Tamworth Rd, Erdington
Edward James Adams 1872 76 Spencer St Jeweller
1873 76 Spencer St & 70 New St
1876 76 Spencer St, 70 New St, 81A Bull St Gold spectacle maker, jeweller & electro-plater
1880, 1882 76 Spencer St & 81a Bull St
1884 34 St Paul’s Square & 81a Bull St Spectacles maker, jeweller & optician
1888 34 St Paul’s Square & 82 Bull St
1876, 1880, 1882 The Avenue, Acock’s Green private resident
1884 Hazelwood Rd, Acock’s Green
1892 Auckland house, Sherbourne Rd, Acock’s Green

Entries for private residents, usually the more affluent and respectable people, do not give the exact street address.   Tyburn, Erdington is very close to Kingsbury Road, so I am reasonably sure that the resident Edward John Adams is the same person as the jeweller at Spring Villa on the 1881 census.  This census indicates that wife Sarah was born ca 1820 and the birthplace for both is recorded as Warwick, probably meaning the county, which is a bit vague.  Sarah appears on the 1851 census with her first husband James Lucas and son William, and as a widow on the 1861 census with William.  Sarah Lucas, nee Brain’s birth date, reported as ca 1820, matches the jeweller’s wife at Spring Villa.

Moving out of Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter

The trade directory entries chart Edward John Adams’ jewellery business at Sand Pits and Kenion Street in the Jewellery Quarter and his retirement to the suburbs.  Edward James Adams expanded his business, occupying Jewellery Quarter premises in Spencer Street and St Paul’s Square as well as nearby city centre premises, whilst residing in Acock’s Green.


This all started with my confusion over the inconsistent naming of Thomas Adams’ father on his marriage certificate.  I am now convinced that the middle name James was an error.  I am also ready to conclude that Edward John Adams married twice.  The second marriage names his father as James Adams, a jeweller, an elusive piece of information.

© Sue Adams 2013