Edwin Henry was born in 1829 in Alfreton, the son of William Henry, a tea dealer. By 1851, at the age of 23, he had set himself up (or been set up by his father) as a grocer and tea dealer in the Market Place in Ripley, possibly as a branch of his father’s business.
He married Mary Wragge, daughter of Thomas Wragge, the keeper of the Crown Inn in Golden valley in 1852 in Pentrich. She died in 1859 in Derby. Edwin seems to have imported his younger sister Mary to run his household; his father, a widower, was by 1861 living with him. In 1865 he advertised for an apprentice and in 1866 remarried to Mary Pybeis or Procter in Liverpool : she came from West Derby, Liverpool. This might suggest that he travelled for his business: the tea may have been imported through Liverpool.
In the 1860s and 1870s he was frequently elected to the Board of Guardians, starting in 1860 as overseer with Thomas Slack, Agnes’ father. He was co-opted on to the Local Board in 1874 and was also on the Board in 1879.
It was probably in the 1870s that he bought land off Cromford Road and created Henry Street, apparently demolishing a stone-built farm which quite possibly dated back to the Middle Ages in order to do so.
By 1871 he was listed as a ”grocer and farmer” and by 1881 (at 52) as “a retired grocer”. From then on he tended to style himself as a “gentleman”. Clearly he made quite a lot of money, and retired early; he also doesn’t seem to have had any children by either wife which must have helped him save money. His second wife died in October 1881 and Edwin in December 1883, only in his mid 50s. In his will he left £1796 , only about £120,000 in today’s money.
It would seem that his house in Henry Street was later lived in by the Wain family (John Wain, the chemist was one of his executors, along with John Fletcher, the builder), and still later a house called “Ashleigh” was lived in by Mrs George Day, a Mr Darbyshire, Miss Booth, Mr William Wheatcroft and Mrs Jowitt.