Joseph Edwards was born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, in 1878, the son of Thomas and Emma Edwards. He first found employment in the clothing trade, becoming a tailor’s errand boy and then a tailor’s assistant, before finally becoming a tailor’s salesman.
In 1903 he married Annie Edwards (née Tilsley) in Sheffield and in 1915 they lived at 40 Strathcona Road, Liscard, Wallasey, Cheshire.
He eventually left the clothing trade and became a professional waiter serving in the Mercantile Marine. He had served for some years on the
Lusitania and engaged once more as a third class waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the liner at Liverpool on 12 April 1915, at a monthly wage of £4-5s-0d (£4.25). He reported for duty on the morning of 17 April before the liner left her berth at Liverpool Landing Stage for the last time. It was his 51st crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
He never completed his 52nd crossing however, for he was killed when the liner was torpedoed and sunk just three weeks later, within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only hours away from her home port. He was aged 37 years, although at the time he engaged, he gave his age as 36.
His body was never recovered and identified so as a consequence he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine Memorial at Tower Hill, London.
In August 1915 he was officially discharged from the last voyage of the Lusitania and his widow Annie was paid the balance of wages owing to him, calculated from 17 April until 8 May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had foundered.
The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted a yearly pension to Annie Edwards to compensate her for the loss of her husband. This amounted to £20-17s-7d (£20.88) payable at the rate of £1-14s-10d (£1.74) per month.
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1881 Census of England and Wales, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, Wallasey News, Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.