Verney, Edmund Hope
Born on 6 April 1838 in England, Edmund Hope Verney came from a distinguished family. His father, Harry Calvert Verney, sat as a Member of Parliament for more than fifty years, while his grandfather, George Hope, was one of Horatio Nelson’s captains during the Battle of Trafalgar. One year after the death of Edmund’s mother, Eliza, in 1857, his father married Frances Parthenope Nightingale, sister to Florence Nightingale.
Edmund entered the Royal Navy in 1851 at the age of twelve. While he was the eldest son and destined to inherit the family estate (as he did in 1894), Edmund remained in the Navy until 1877. He served with distinction in the Crimean War and Indian Mutiny and traveled all over the globe, including South America, Australia, the Mediterranean, and Hong Kong. Following three years as captain of the gunboat HMS Grappler in British Columbia, Edmund made the overland journey in 1865 from San Francisco to New York City.
Edmund married Margaret Maria Hay Williams, heiress of a prominent Welsh family, in 1868. They had four children. While Edmund lost one of his legs the following year in a shooting accident at the family home, Claydon House, he was still able to serve as captain of the HMS Growler in West Africa. After his retirement from the Navy, Edmund focused on managing the family estate, which totaled nearly nine thousand acres. In 1885–86 and 1889–91 he served as a Member of Parliament until a sexual scandal ended his public career.
Edmund died on 8 May 1910 at the age of seventy-two. He was remembered as a kindly man who continued his interest in national affairs in his later years.
Pritchard, Allan, ed. Vancouver Island Letters of Edmund Hope Verney, 1862–1865. Vancouver: UCB Press, 1996.