Jamaican Family Search Genealogy Research Library
Edward Binns, the actor and film star was born 12 September 1916 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He died of heart failure in Brewster, New York on 4 December 1990. The best known of his seventeen film roles was in "12 Angry Men". However I have discovered another Edward Binns about whom I know little but who first came to my notice when I saw this announcement of the death of his widow, the Duchess of Saldanha, in The Times for 27 Jan 1886, "The Duchesse de Saldanha, widow of Field Marshall the Duc de Saldanha, for many years Portuguese Minister accredited to the Court of St James's, died on Friday last at the residence of her son-in-law in Dublin. The Duchesse was a lady of Honour to the Queen of Portugal, and was the widow of Mr. Edward Binns when she married the Duc de Saldanha." If a man can be judged by the status of his widow, but I doubt very much that he can, then this Edward Binns must have been very interesting.
Just a few words about the Duc de Saldanha before moving down the social scale. The Duc was born in Lisbon in 1791. He was an important and colourful character in Portuguese history. He was captured in Portugal by the Duke of Wellington and transported to England but in 1814 he was allowed to go to Brazil to command the Portuguese forces where he was instrumental in securing Uruguay for the Portuguese. When he returned to Portugal in 1822 the government expressed its gratitude by imprisoning him for about a year. After his release he continued in public life until further disagreements with the government caused him to settle in London in 1827. While in London he pursued a variety of interest, one of which was medicine, particularly homeopathy, and in 1858 he published a work on the subject.
Edward Binns was the son of James K and Sarah H Binns and was born on 23rd June 1804 in Lucea, Cornwall County, Jamaica, where in 1823 he is recorded in the census aged 19 years. In 1828 he graduated in medicine from the University of Edinburgh and it seems probable that it was about this time that he would have met with the Duc de Saldanha, probably in London. However he certainly returned to Jamaica soon after graduation and reportedly took a leading and violent part in anti-Baptist riots in Lucea in 1831. He appears to have been active in the anti-slavery movement and Thomas Clarkson wrote, "Dr. Binns, a respectable physician belonging to the religious Society of the Quakers and to whom Isaac Hadwen [a Quaker] had introduced me, was near falling into a mischievous plot, which had been laid against him because he was one of the subscribers to the Institution for the Abolition of the Slave-trade and because he was suspected of having aided me in promoting that object." This quotation is from an edition of The History, Rise and Accomplishment of the Abolition of the African Slave-trade by the British Parliament published in 1836.
In 1836 he was reported as being the editor of The Herald newspaper in Kingston, Jamaica.
Evidence that he returned from Jamaica to London is provided by his authorship of the following testimonial for Holloway's Universal Family Ointment published in The Times in 1837
"My Dear Sir, After reading the very strongly worded testimonials of Sir Benjamin Brodie and Mr Mayo (names that would confer an immortality on any remedy), I was predisposed in favour of your ointment and made many trials in consequence, in cases of chronic ulcers, which a six years experience in the West Indies had taught me to consider as incurable by the ordinary methods resorted to. I am now happy to say that in all cases it was, to my utter astonishment, really and truly efficacious; and that I have not the slightest hesitation in adding that I place the most entire reliance on it in all diseases of the epidermis, in enlarged glands, and long standing ulcers. In sore nipples it is an excellent remedy. (Signed) Edward Binns, London, Dorset Square, September 14th, 1837"
Whether he was rewarded with money for the testimonial we will probably never know but certainly the ointment earned for Thomas Holloway, its manufacturer, the fortune that allowed him to establish the Royal Holloway College in West London.
In 1842 he became a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland and it seems probable that in the 1840's he divided his time between London and Jamaica since, for instance, he gave his address as Bellevue, Hounslow in connection with an article he wrote entitled "Available Resources Of The West Indies, Recommended For The In-Vestment Of Surplus British Capital" that was published in Simmonds Colonial Magazine, and in August 1840 he wrote to The London Medical Gazette from an address in New North Street, Red Lion Square, London. His first stand alone publication "Prodomus: Towards a philosophical inquiry into the intellectual powers of the Negro" was published by John Churchill in 1844 and is reputed to be the first book printed from machine-set type. Some other articles he had published during the 1840's were titled; "On The Culture Of Cotton In Jamaica", "On The Sugar Duties", "Cocoa and Chocolate", and "The Introduction of Hill Coolies to Jamaica". However his magnum opus, published in London in 1845 was "The Anatomy of Sleep, or, the Art of Procuring Sound and Refreshing Slumber at Will", in which he related a story of "the beautiful quadroon girl" as an example of how two men separated by many miles can experience similar dreams simultaneously.
Again in The Times in 1846 there appeared this further testimonial to Holloway's Ointment, "Dr Binns, who is one of the principal physicians in the island of Jamaica has expressed himself in the following manner respecting the surprising healing properties of Holloway's Ointment "I have made many trials of this ointment in case of chronic ulcers, which several years experience in the West Indies taught me to consider as incurable. I am now happy to say that in all cases it was really and truly efficacious" Signed E Binns M. D., F.S.S. Sco."
An interesting source of information on Edward's family is the obituary of his brother Samuel who died at Lucea on 9th September 1844;
"Samuel Leigh Heatley Binns, Esq. Aged 34, youngest son of James Kitelee Binns, Esq. Of the Beans Estate and Ware Park, in Hanover, Jamaica, and was of lineal descent of the Haughtons of Haughton Town in Lancashire, and the Leighs (now Traffords), of Outrington Hall, Cheshire, a family that dates back to the Conquest. He was also brother to Dr Binns the author of "The Anatomy of Sleep" and other works. His loss will be long felt in Hanover where he was born, lived, and died."
Edward Binns died on 10 Feb 1851 at Lucea, Jamaica, probably as a consequence of dealing with a severe cholera outbreak that was raging at the time. Unfortunately it has not been possible to find a contemporary obituary.
Other genealogical information we can glean is that his wife was Charlotte Smith and they had two daughters; Ellen died young in Paris where she was continuing her education; and Amalie Trafford Haughton Binns whose birth was registered in Holborn, London in 1841 and who married to Mr Frederick Goulburn Walpole in Rome on 15 January 1864. Amalie died 7 Oct 1895
As for the Duc, whose first wife had died on 12 August 1855, he was planning to marry the widowed Mrs. Binns by the July of 1856. Because such a mixed marriage required a variety of permissions in England it was decided to marry in France and on 13 Sep 1856 they married at the English Embassy in Paris. According to the author of the Duck's biography the Duchess became a Catholic and he comments that "her first husband, some time before his death, had become a convert." The Duc died in London, where he had been appointed Portuguese ambassador in 1871, on 21 November 1876. He was returned to Portugal for an elaborate funeral.
The last enigmatic mention I have seen of this family was in the Jamaican Gleaner on Friday 14 October 1949 where a notice appeared on behalf of Miss M. J. C. Walpole, deceased, requesting any descendants of Edward or his wife Charlotte to communicate with a firm of London solicitors and they might hear something to their advantage.
This article was contributed by David Binns to jamaicanfamilysearch.com, which has not attempted to verify his sources, but presents it because it may be useful to other readers.
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