Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: March 18, 2018
Webpage updated: March 18, 2018



EDWARD SPENDER (1833-1878)

Edward Spender was the son of Mr J C Spender, surgeon, of Bath, Somerset, where he was born on November 25th 1833.

During a visit to Plymouth with his brother-in-law, Mr William Saunders, he was introduced by Mr Alfred Rooker to Mr William Hunt, who was at that time the librarian of the Cottonian Library in Cornwall Street.  They had been discussing the poor condition of the local newspapers, which were all published weekly and mostly reprinted news taken from the London papers.  The four men met for dinner at Mr Saunders' residence at Mannamead and they concluded it was up to them to start a daily newspaper in the Town.  After a long discussion the title was chosen: "The Western Morning News".  

Soon premises were acquired in Bedford Street, opposite the Globe Hotel, and Mr Spender was appointed editor.  The first issue of the newspaper was published on January 3rd 1860.

On February 18th 1862 Edward married Miss Ellen Rendle, daughter of Doctor Rendle, of Plymouth, at Saint Andrew's Church.

In 1864 Mr Spender left Plymouth for London, where he was to assume personal oversight of the Morning News's new London office.

As well as contributing to his own newspaper, he also wrote widely for other journals and penned a book about his journeys to Norway.

On Friday June 7th 1878 he arrived in Plymouth to stay with his wife's brother, Mr Russell Rendle.  He was accompanied by his two eldest sons, Reginald, aged 13, and Sydney, 11, who were both at school in Honiton.  On the following Sunday, June 9th, they all went for a walk to Tregonhawke Cove, Whitsands, where the Spenders all went for a bathe, leaving Mr Rendle watching from the rocks.  Within five minutes of entering the water all three of them had disappeared beneath the waves.   After a short search, Mr Rendle ran two miles to the coastguard station to raise the alarm.

The bodies of Reginald and Sydney were the first to be washed up on the shore, about a mile eastwards of the point at which they were last seen.   That was on the evening of Saturday June 22nd 1878 and Mr Spender's body was recovered later that weekend.  He was just 47 years of age.  The Inquest recorded a verdict of "Accidental death by being drowned while bathing".   The bodies were taken to London for burial.

A memorial stands on the cliff above the spot at which they were last seen.