Edward Searles: From modest roots to ‘My Lord,’ and a scandal | Lifestyle

EDITOR’S Take note: Melissa Davenport Berry is a historic and genealogical researcher and writer. She is a blogger for Newsbank’s Genealogy team and a researcher for Heritage Collectors Culture. Her historical past columns will operate often in The Eagle-Tribune.

Edward Francis Searles, identified around New England for his grand castles and philanthropic function, invested significantly of his time in Lawrence when he was just a little tike.

Born in 1841, he went by the name “Frank” when he was the very poor boy using piano lessons with Mrs. Mary Fell, or doing the job at the dry goods keep owned by Uncle Artemas W. Stearns.

But Edward experienced an auspicious change when he moved to the Massive Apple to make his occupation as a residence decorator and architect designer.

Via his do the job at the organization Herter Brothers, he was introduced to a consumer named Mary Kellogg Hopkins, aka “Americas richest widow,” who inherited a wide estate from her husband Mark Hopkins, the Southern Pacific Railroad tycoon who died in 1871.

The dowager, 23 decades his senior, shared a enjoy for luxurious and high-priced furnishings. Though he transformed her estates in California and Good Barrington, Massachusetts, Edward became intimate with Hopkins and married her Nov. 8, 1887, at Trinity Chapel in New York Town.

The newlyweds took a six-month bridal tour about Europe and spent a fortune on home furnishings and artwork to carry back again to the states.

When Edward returned, he was dubbed “Lord Methuen.” Apparently, when in England he ordered a tortoise shell, mom-of-pearl inlaid chest from a direct descendant of Lord Methuen, the namesake of his hometown.

With all the wealth bestowed upon him, Edward grew to become far more eccentric and reclusive. He obtained a legion of servants and insisted he be resolved as “My Lord.” The workers had to eliminate their hats in his presence and never could be seated prior to him.

Mary’s mates and spouse and children grew more suspicious of the partnership, but Edward stored them at bay. That incorporated Mary’s adopted son Timothy Hopkins, who married her niece.

A number of of Mary’s relations unfold during the country generously received regular monthly allowances from her, but interaction with them ceased. Far more will be exposed on this.

Even though there are quite a few dramas to produce about when it arrives to Edward, this tidbit these days commences with the dying of his wife, and the techniques unleashed on how this great Lord genuinely won the hand of this wealthy widow and ran off with her hundreds of thousands.

Mary died July 25, 1891, in Methuen at Pine Ridge, 1 of the a lot of estates owned by Edward and her. In accordance to reviews from quite a few newspapers, her loss of life was mysterious.

The first cause was grip, but later on was improved to dropsy. No one definitely knew and the natives grew restlessness.

Edward experienced taken Mary to Methuen from their Fantastic Barrington estate about two months prior to her loss of life. He locked himself absent with her and only a few servants. He had little make contact with with the outdoors environment.

When information came that her vitality was sapped, reporters swarmed Pine Ridge wanting for solutions, but Edward employed plain-apparel detectives who shut them out.

The Methuen folks who ended up acquainted with Mary desired to shell out their respects, but had been satisfied with barred gates.

The funeral was strictly non-public. Edward choreographed the procession ceremony. A rosewood coffin with a glass deal with that held his late spouse was made by Edward days just before. It was carried by liveried servants headed by Edward holding a torch.

The Rev. Charles F. Swett of St. Thomas’ Church in Methuen done the funeral provider and was assisted by the Rev. C. H. Oliphant of the Congregational Church who study the responses.

Mary was buried across the street from the home at Lawrence Avenue Cemetery, also recognised as the Village Burying Ground.

This was the commencing a fantastic scandal that surrounded Edward. When the will was probated in Salem, Massachusetts, Normal Thomas Hamlin Hubbard was named the executor and Edward was named the sole legatee.

Mary’s kin, such as her adopted son Timothy, would not acquire a cent. With Mary absent, Edward was flush with hard cash. He held the keys to all her palaces, which had been valued in the tens of millions.

The widows’ kin who had previously received annually allowances and have been promised a slice of the pie after she was absent have been outraged. Timothy, equally enraged, well prepared for war and hired Elbridge T Burley, one particular of Lawrence’s most popular authorized eagles.

The fit to crack Mary’s will was introduced just before Judge Rollin E. Harmon at the Essex County Court docket in Salem on Sept. 22, 1891.

The contesters argued that Edward’s maintain about Mary arrived from the a type of occultism. The fight commenced and the sensational court docket hearings are up next. Remain tuned!

See future Sunday’s Eagle-Tribune for the 2nd component of this piece. Discover Melissa Davenport Berry’s web site at americana-archives.com.