Every family has its own unique history, and the Edminster Family is no exception. The name is itself uncommon and leads to the conclusion, correctly or not, that all Edminsters are related, and further that those with variations on the name are “cousins” as well. This would include the names Edminster, Edminister, Adminster, Edmester, Edmiston and Edmunster, as well as many others. The origin of the name is not known, and although the first Edminster in America came from Scotland there is some conjecture that early Edminsters were German or French. Here is the story of how they came to America:
September 3, 1650 Dunbar, just south of Edinburgh,Scotland dawned wet and stormy with cold winds whipping in from the North Sea. Scottish forces under David Leslie occupied Doon Hill while the English forces under the command of Oliver Cromwell were down near the water’s edge. Both armies were undoubtedly cold and miserable from the weather and weakened from long days of battle without adequate food. The Scots army numbered about 22,000 and the English about 16,000. It was against this backdrop that the Battle of Dunbar was waged, and when Cromwell’s forces staged a surprise attack catching the Scots backed up to a rain-swollen burn, they were able to prevail, killing 3000 and taking another 10,000 prisoners. About half of the prisoners were released due to their wounds or illness and the rest were marched 118 miles to Durham, England, a trip that took about a week. Only about 3000 were still alive on arrival and another 1600 died of starvation and illness during the two months imprisonment that followed. Of the 1400 that remained, 500 were indentured to the French Army and 900 sent to America as indentured servants. One of these was John Edminsteire.
John Edminsteire along with about 200 other prisoners sailed to the New World on the ship “John and Sara” commanded by Captain John Greene. The prisoners were to be delivered to Thomas Kemble to be “disposed of” according to previously sent orders and were indentured for a period of 6, 7 or 8 years. It appears John was freed of his indenture and married in 1664. The Edminsters settled in Freetown, Massachusetts and from there the family grew and spread throughout the country.
Like most Americans of the time, the Edminsters moved westward over several generations. For example by the fourth generation after John Edminsteire, Henry William Edminster was living in New York State, as was his son Henry William, Jr.; the next descendant, Reuben S. Edminster moved to Milo, Illinois in 1855 and on to Kansas in 1873. His son Herbert Loyal stayed in Kansas, however the following generation, Reuben Walter Edminster and his family moved further west to Townsend, then Helena Montana and eventually to Tacoma, Washington.
The information above comes from “The Edminster Family in America” by Frank Custer Edminster, Jr., published in 1965 and provides both a history and genealogy of the family, early and current (to 1965). The book is available through several booksellers as well as being carried in many public libraries and is online at Heritage Quest (Godfrey Library). Other volumes that reference the family include: History of the Town of Cornish, New Hampshire: with genealogical record, 1763-1910, by Wm. H. Child, 1911 (?), The History of Leavenworth County, Kansas, by Jesse A. Hall, 1921. The family is also mentioned in several other books as well as the genealogies of families they married into.
This, obviously, is just a tantalizing bit of Edminster history……much more has been written and lived. If you have additions or corrections to the Edminster story, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment.