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Edward Payne Press


Born 12th February 1870, Henbury, Gloucestershire. His birth was registered with the name John Edward Payne Press but the John was dropped at an early age. Clifton College 1881-1888. Played for Gloucestershire. Clifton captain 1892-93. Solicitor at 25 Baldwin St., Bristol.

His father was John Latham Press (born abt.1833 Hexham, Norfolk) and his mother was Sarah Amelia Taylor (born abt.1839 Hackford, Norfolk). They were married in 1860 at Mitford, Norfolk. In 1861 his parents lived at 3 Somerset Place, Clifton, Bristol. In 1863 they were living at 6 Clifton Vale, Clifton, Bristol. In 1866 James Press went into partnership with James Inskip. Press & Inskip Solicitors were at 3 Small Street, Bristol. James Inskips sons Thomas Walker Hobart Inskip click here and John Hampden Inskip click here also went to Clifton College and played for Clifton Rugby Club.

In 1871 he lived at 95 Ashley Hill, St. Werburgh's, Bristol

His aunt (father's sister) was Fanny Margaret Press, her son was Barry Edward Girling who played for Wales in its first ever match against England in 1881 as well as captaining Cardiff in 1882-83. More details on the James Bevan page

In 1891 he lived at Gwyder Villa, 18 College Road, Clifton.

On 17th December 1891 he played for Gloucestershire againt Devon at Kingsholm, Gloucester. Gloucestershire won by 1 goal and 2 tries to nil (9-0). The Gloucestershire side included 11 Gloucester players including ex Clifton RFC player Charles Hooper who scored one of the tries. This was the first County game played at Kingsholm, 2 months after it opened. The match was played in thick fog and it wasn't possible to see from one end of the pitch to the other.

Above Edward Payne Press from the 1893 Hume photo of Clifton RFC

His engagement to Muriel Ann Caroline Hoare, daughter of Sir Samuel John Gurney Hoare, 1st Viscount Templewood, Foreign Secretary 1935, Home Secretary 1937-39, amongst many other positions was announced in The Times on 5th December 1895. They were married on 2nd June 1896 at St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London by the Rev. Henry Luke Paget, Vicar of St. Pancras, assisted by the Rev. Henry Dyke Acland, Rector of Luccombe, Somerset.

Above Sir Samuel Hoare. Edward Press's father-in-law.

Above St. George's Church, Hanover Square, London where Edward Press was married.

In 1901 he was living at 14 Westbury Park, Bristol.

In 1912 he carried out the local negotiations which led to establishment of the Bristol Hippodrome.

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Above the opening of Bristol Hippodrome on 16th December 1912.

He committed suicide on 5th February 1914.

Above The Bristol Times & Mirror article about his death appeared on 7th February 1914. It says


Early yesterday morning a distressing tragedy enacted on the railway near Clifton Bridge Station was revealed by the discovery of a decapitated body of a man. The head was foundon the railway and the trunk nearby. The body was taken to Pill by the driver of the 7.30 train, and was later identified as that of Mr. Edward Payne Press, senior partner of the well-known firm of Bristol solicitors, Messrs. Press and Press.

We learn that Mr. Press had been in indifferent health for some months, and had been very depressed, but had refused to accept the advice of friends to take an extended holiday and recuperate. He had no business or financial troubles, and was at business the previous day, leaving at about a quarter to 5, but we understand he did not go home, nor was he heard of until his body was found.

The news of so tragic an end to a career of honour and distinction in the legal profession was received in the city and district with profound sorrow for the firm of Press and Press are well-known and highly esteemed. Quite recently they carried out the local negotiations which led to establishment of the Bristol Hippodrome. Mr. E. P. Press was in partnership with his brother , Mr. F. J. Press. Their father was the late Mr. J. L. Press, a solicitor, for many years in partnership with the late Mr. James Inskip.

Mr. E. P. Press was educated at Clifton College, and was a popular and prominant player of the Clifton Rugby Football Club for some years after leaving school, captaining the XV in 1892-3 and playing for Gloucestershire. He was also a good cricketer, being a vigorous hitter as a man of powerful build, and of late years devoted the little spare time he could allow himself to the game of golf. He played at Failand, where his loss will be greatly lamented.

He married the daughter of Sir Samuel Hoare, Bart., of Sidestrand Hall, Cromer, for twenty years Conservative M.P. for Norwich, and leaves a widow and one son.

Above Clifton Bridge Station. Opened on 18th April 1867. Closed on 7th September 1964. Between 1891 and 1910 called Rownham Station. It lies on the Bristol to Portishead line in the Avon Gorge.

Above Clifton Bridge Station from a higher angle.

Above Clifton Bridge Station from a lower angle.

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Above map of Clifton Bridge Station in 1910.

The Times Obituary appeared on 9th February 1914 and said

PRESS.- On the 5th inst., suddenly, EDWARD PAYNE PRESS, of Avon Wood, Stoke Bishop, Bristol, elder son of the late John Latham Press, of Clifton, Bristol, age 43.

Above the Bristol Times & Mirror article from 9th February 1914 which detailed the inquest into his death which took place at the Duke of Cornwall Inn, Pill on 7th February 1914. It says



The inquestconcerning the death of Mr. Edward Press, late senior partner of the firm of Messrs. Press and Press, solicitors, Bristol, was held on Saturday at the Duke of Cornwall Inn, Pill, by Mr. Craddock. Mr. C. E. Barry appeared on behalf of the family. Inspectors Boyle and Phillips represented the Great Western Railway Company; Mr. G. W. Brown, organising secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen for the South-Western District was also present.

Mr. Frederick John Press, brother of the deceased, gave evidence of identification, and said his bother was 43 years of age. He last saw him alive on Thursday afternoon at 4.30 in the office at Carlton Chambers. He was in a very depressed condition.

The Coroner From any cause, do you know?

Witness: From no business cause, but great worry of mind - imaginary worries.

He had imaginary worries? - Undoubtedly.

Having none, financial or business? - No financial worry of any sort, but a great deal of business worry.

That was not purely imaginary? - It was imaginary. He had lost confidence in himself, and thought he had not advised his clients correctly.

That is a delusion if you say it was not a fact? - It was not a fact. I have carefully ascertained all the facts in all his business matters.

He lost confidence in his ability to do the work of his clients? - In his ability to do the work of his clients.

I may put it you consider that a real delusion? - I am sure of it; I have satisfied myself it was.

Did he ever give you the slightest hint that he would destroy himself? - Never.

Did he suffer from insomnia? - Very badly, especially during the last three weeks.

Had you any idea that he would destroy himself? - No; I had no reason to anticipate that. Witness added that his brother had been attending to his work regularly up to February 5th, very much against the witness's advice and wishes. He first noticed his depression about three weeks ago. He was advised to take a holiday, and said he would. He at one time actually arranged to go away, but came down to the office again, much to the witness's dissappointment.

I reply to Mr. Barry, witness said he frequently urged his brother to go away.

I think last Sunday his wife sent for you? - Yes, to go to his home.

He was then worrying about some advice he thought he had given wrongly? - Yes. He sent for me immediately after breakfast, and said he had had a bad night. I discussed particular business with him for two hours.

The Coroner: What was the reason?

Witness: He thought he had given bad advice generally, and that transactions in connection with a particular business was wrong.

Mr. Barry: May I take it as regards his own private affairs, and as regards the office, he had no financial worries whatever?

Witness: Absolutely none. His private debts were under £2.

Mr. Barry: And no financial worries in the office?

Witness: Absolutely none. His financial affairs were in a perfectly sound, straight condition.

Mr. Barry: Did you convince him that he hadn't acted unwiselytowards his clients? - Yes, I convinced him at the time, but I have little doubt he had doubts afterwards.

The Foreman: Was your brother excitable? - No. He was very retiring, with a great deal of self-confidence. Through life I consider he has had no very great confidence in himself, and he has got noticeably worse lately.

Joseph M. Higby, driver of the 7.30 am train from Bristol to Portishead, said that after leaving Clifton Bridge Station he noticed the body of a man in the four-foot way. It was put into the guards van and taken to Pill. The head was not on the body.

Wm. John Vanstone, guard of the train, said that he picked up an overcoat, cap, and umbrella, a few yards from where the body was found.

Percival Brayley, stationmaster at Pill, proved receiving the body, and P.C. Palmer said that on searching the body he found a note, written in pencil, on part of a cheque torn from a cheque-book.

"I cannot bear to worry, my darling, any more."

The decesed's watch at stopped at seven minutes to six. His head was afterwards fetched and conveyed to Pill.

William Bishop, a ganger, said he found the head 480 yards from where the body was found.

Inspector Boyle, of the Great Western Railway, said that the last train left Pill at 1.15 am. but no blood had been found on the engine, or on the engines of trains that had passed prior.

Richard Cartlidge, managing clerk to Messrs. Press and Press, said that he saw the deceased at 4.45 pm. in his office on the 5th inst. He was depressed, and very anxious with the worry he had had for a long time. He worried quite unnecessarily, as he had no real case to worry. Witness went into the matters that worried him, and pointed out they were all right. He said he was going out for a bit, and witness told him there would be some letters for him to sign when he came back.

Dr. J. O. Symes, deceased's medical attendant, said he had been attending him sinve January 19th for sleeplessness and some confusion of the mind and depression.. He said his work worried him. He had no organic disease, and did not give witness the idea that he would be likely to lose temporary control over his actions. Witness on two occassions advised him to go away, as he required complete mental rest; and witness thought he had gone away at the time.

Mr. S. J. G. Hoare, M.P. for Chelsea, brother-in-law of the deceased, said the relations between the deceased and his wife were of the most devoted character. He did not think husband and wife could be more closely attached to each other.

The Coroner, summing up, said that there seemed no doubt that the imaginary worryhad caused the deceased to lay himself in front of a passing train. There was no doubt that for the time his mind was absolutely unhinged, and that he lost control over his actions.

The Jury returned a verdict of "Suicide during a state of temporary insanity."

The funeral will take place today at Portbury at 2.30. A train leaves Temple Meads at 1.40 and Clifton Bridge at 1.51, reaching Portbury at 2.10.


Above Carlton Chambers, Baldwin Street, Bristol. Press & Press Offices.

Probate was granted in Bristol on 18th March 1914 to his widow, Muriel Annie Caroline Press, and his estate was valued at £4,187-5-9.  

His brother is listed in the 1914 Bristol Directory as living at 14 Miles Road, Clifton, Bristol.

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Above 14 Miles Road, Clifton.

His brother, Frederick John Press, known as Jack to his family and friends, was a partner of Cyril Clarke’s in a solicitor’s firm called Clarke Sons and Press.  Clarke Sons and Press went through various permutations until John Latham Press, another Old Cliftonian and nephew of Edward Payne Press, merged the firm into Osborne Clarke in the early 1970s.

Above his brother Jack who died on 26th September 1944 in Bristol. With thanks to his grandson, Robert Gilchrist.

Above his brother Jack in 1927. With thanks to his grandson, Robert Gilchrist.

Above a family holiday in the Lake District in 1935, with Jack Press, John Press, EMP, Richard Jackson, Cecil Sully. With thanks to Robert Gilchrist.

The Bristol branch of Osbourne Clarke, solicitors are now based at Temple Quay. They were founded in Bristol in 1748 by Jeremiah Osborne. The founder’s grandson, also Jeremiah, was the solicitor to The Great Western Railway Company and in 1833 and rowed Isambard Kingdom Brunel down the River Avon to survey the bank for the route of the Great Western Railway.Their website is at

His son, Edward Press later became head of the Bank of Egypt – until the Bank was nationalised by Nasser 50 years ago.

His nephew, John Latham Press, played tennis at Wimbledon. He was born in Clifton, Bristol on 5th June 1914. John was the son of Jack Press and Edith Mary Holmes à Court. He attended Exter College, Oxford. He married Nina Lois Williams (Born in Herefordshire 18th March 1914. Died 5th October 1987 in Chepstow) at ChristChurch, Clifton, Bristol, 12th September 1939. He died on 24th December 2006, aged 92.

Above a newspaper report of his nephew, John Press and Nina Lois Williams marriage at ChristChurch, Clifton, Bristol, on 12th September 1939. With thanks to Robert Gilchrist.