How far would a postman walk in his career? According to a snippet in The Sunday Post dated 24 December 1922 the figure given was 116,034 over a 31 year career. At the time of his retirement Eder Bray was living in Kilmarnock in Ayrshire a long way from his birthplace in Hook Norton.

He was born on 4 January 1863, the son of George Bray, a wheelwright and Sarah Bray, nee Bartlett. Sadly his father died when he was five and was brought up by his mother who also had three other children to look after. Sarah, according to the 1871 census, was a dressmaker while Arthur, the eldest child was following in his father’s footsteps as he was apprenticed to a wheelwright.

Presumably this occupation did not suit Eder as he moved away from the village to Kenilworth lodging with the Burbery family. The 1881 census lists him as a farm servant at the Crew Farm. However, this might have been a short term occupation as he enlisted in the 11th Hussars in Leeds in November 1883 leaving in April 1890. However, it was not until November 1895 until he was finally discharged. His attestation papers give his forename as Edgar rather than Eder. He was given the service number 2167. According to his papers he was 19 years 10 months when he signed up, 5ft 61/4 inches weighing 138 lbs with a chest size of 36 inches. He had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and sandy hair and was missing a small portion of his left thumb. His religion was Presbyterian, however, Church of England had been scored out on the form.

In January 1891 he married Christina Fraser, who had been born in Stornoway, in Holy Trinity Church, Aldershot. Her father was Simon Fraser, a farmer. On the marriage certificate Eder gave his occupation as a groom whose residence was in Woodham Ferrers in Essex. The newly married couple set up home in Woodham Ferrers, however, they were not there for long as they relocated to Girthon in Kirkcudbrightshire, south west Scotland where their first child Simona was born in 1892. Other children followed but by then they had moved again this time to 34 Ladeside Street, Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. The 1901 census lists, Christina as a letter carrier’s wife, but Eder was not at the family home when it was taken. Perhaps he was on his rounds!

The Bute Directory for the early years of the 20th century listed Eder as a postman living in the High Street in the town. However, after a number of years in Rothesay the family moved back to the mainland settling in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. The 1911 census informs us that they were living at 29 Grange Street in the town with only one of their children, Daniel aged 12. The census noted that the couple had been married for 20 years and there were four children from the marriage, only two of whom were still alive.Ten years later Daniel was still living at home with his parents, however, he married Mary Campbell the following year. Simona, in the meantime, had married James Smith in 1914. In 1923 Eder and Christina’s first grandchild, Eder Arthur Bray was born in Kilmarnock.

Eder and Christina lived out their lives in Kilmarnock. Eder died on 30 March 1937 in Kilmarnock Infirmary of cardiovascular degeneration, while Christina lived for a further 7 years dying of senile decay.

The short piece in The Sunday Post implied that Eder had started work as a postman in 1891. This may have been a bit of poetic licence unless, of course, he held down another job whilst working as a postman. Over the years this well known newspaper has relied on good journalism so who am I to argue over what they said about a son of Hooky 100 years ago!

Thanks to Katie Armstrong of Cleveland, Ohio for allowing me to use some of the facts about Eder that she has published on Ancestry. The Brays are her husband’s ancestors.