Posts tagged ‘George Edwards’

Agustin Edwards Eastman. Una Biografia Desclasificada

cover of book on agustin edwards

Earlier this year a book was published titled “Agustín Edwards Eastman. Una biografía desclasificada del dueño de El Mercurio” by Víctor Herrero, a Chilean journalist with an international background. For those that don’t know, Agustín Edwards Eastman is arguably one of the most powerful men in Chile and has been that for the better part of a century. He is the current owner of the media conglomerate of “El Mercurio” and it is alleged that he was the driving force behind the coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet as the Head of State of Chile.

Normally, I wouldn’t write about a book published that writes about such a public figure. However, this is an exception because (a) Agustín Edwards Eastman is a relative (3rd degree cousin of my maternal grandmother) (b) I was contacted by the author last year while he was doing his research and my name is listed in the book.

The book was the #1 best seller in the non-fiction category in Chile for several weeks and, as of this writing, it is still in the top 10 after 7 weeks. It has had a mixed reception in the country with a broad range of reactions on either side of the political divide. I know that the reception among the Edwards family members hasn’t been entirely positive.

I won’t go into the “meat” of the book which is the actual life of the man but just the genealogy listed. I have not had the pleasure of meeting him though I think my grandmother probably did. In any case, let’s move on.

I have written several articles about the Edwards family of chile:

On pages 102-113 of the first edition of the book, the author goes over the origins in Chile and the family legends that are prevalent in the Edwards family. As the author says, though the founder George Edwards was humble about his origin, his descendants created many stories about a noble past and an exotic origin.

Herrero starts with the story of how George Edwards arrived in Chile in the beginning of the 19th century and then goes into several of the myths that exist. The principle of which is the claim that George Edwards was really the 4th son of Lord Hugh Mostyn, Baron de Vaux and of Elizabeth O’Higgins and not the humble son of the working class George Edwards and Elizabeth Brown.

One of the tantalizing details written in the book is how the first Agustín Edwards in Chile (George Edwards’ 6th born child) married his niece Juana Ross Edwards who was his elder sister’s daughter. It caused a huge scandal at the time considering that the Edwards family was one of the richest in the country and Agustín the richest man. Because they were to marry in the Roman Catholic Church, they needed to get a special dispensation to be allowed to marry. Even though they were very rich, it was not easy (and it shouldn’t be) but they were eventually successful. Juana Ross Edwards, was a very religious woman and there have been many books written about this extremely interesting woman.

Herrero accurately recounts the conversation I had with him regarding the origins of George Edwards, at least according to the available documentation and my 4th great-grandfather’s own words. George Edwards was of humble origin, the son of a carpenter, and grew up in a working class family. He was a barber/surgeon (they were the same thing in the 18th century) and sailed with various ships serving the Crown against the Spanish. There are various stories of how he ended up in Chile, most very romantic speaking of love at first sight, etc. Whichever the truth he deserted his shipmates and chose to stay in “enemy” territory and after spending some time in a Chilean prison, he ended up marrying the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the area and becoming a very successful businessman himself. However, he never forgot his enmity towards the Spanish Crown and when the Chilean Revolution broke out, George Edwards was one of the principle financiers of Bernardo O’Higgins’ enterprise and because of that was granted citizenship in the new republic.

He also summarizes well my refutation of the Mostyn de Vaux myth where I demonstrate that not only is the legend false, it’s also a really bad story that has all facts going against it. As the author states, the particular branch of the Edwards family was among the richest and its scions studied at Eton and Oxford, their members were regulars in the highest aristocratic circles of London and socialized with members of the Royal Family there. The author speculates that they felt they needed a backstory to make them fit in better and, considering it was the late 19th century/early 20th, it may or may not be true. What is true is that when a professional genealogist was hired to research the family, the findings were discarded and never spoken of again because, presumably, the findings were not liked.

What was news to me and pleasantly surprised me was that the famous writer Joaquín Edwards Bello (1st degree cousin to my grandmother’s father) shared the same opinion as I. If someone like him reached the same conclusion as I did, I know I am on the right track!

Now to the disappointing part…

Section from page 104 of the book “Agustín Edwards Eastman. Una Biografia Desclasificada”


However exciting it was that my name was in such a popular book, it was a bit of let down to see that my name was written incorrectly (my name is “Kimon Andreou” and not “Kim Andreou”), had my nationality wrong (I am not English but an American of Greco-Chilean parentage), and I am not a distant relative of the Edwards.

However, the citation in the bibliography has my name correct.

To the author’s credit, when I reached out to him he did commit to working with his publisher to correct the mistakes in the next edition. Hopefully, the edits were submitted in time.

Again, as mentioned at the top of this article I am only discussing the sections relevant to the subject area of the blog and not the rest of it. I leave that criticism to others more qualified than I and I will keep my own personal opinions to myself, though my family is aware.

In any case, I would recommend to anyone that is interested in the subject matter to pick up a copy regardless of one’s personal political affiliation and opinion on Agustin Edwards Eastman.

Links of interest:



Edwards line

As mentioned previously, my mother’s family are the Vergara Edwards of Chile and my maternal grandmother is a direct patrilineal descendent of the founder of the Edwards line in Chile, George Edwards Brown better known as Jorge Edwards Brown. As with the Martínez de Vergara entry, I will focus on the descendents that lead to me however this time, I will list the children in the order they were born unless otherwise noted.

George Edwards was born in Finsbury, London, England on January 2nd, 1780 to John Edwards, a carpenter, and Elizabeth Brown and joined an English privateer ship as the on-board surgeon/medic. He first reached the Chilean coast in 1797 after sailing the South American coastline. In 1803, he joins the crew of the privateer ship Blackhouse that focused on attacking ships and ports under the Spanish crown. It was during the Blackhouse’s raid of the city of La Serena that George Edwards met his future wife, Isabel Ossandón, while sacking her father’s house. The story goes that the two fell in love at first sight and it was that moment that George Edwards decided to leave his privateering life behind and stay with the woman he loved. He deserted his ship and evaded the search from his former crew by hiding for three days in a barrel in the Ossandón house. He only came out of hiding when Spanish reinforcements arrived in the city and repelled the invaders. The Spanish authorities arrested him and sent him to serve a two year prison sentence in Callao. He returned to La Serena in 1805 and coverted to Catholicism, it is in his baptismal papers where we find out about his parents.

George Edwards worked as a surgeon for a couple of years but, quickly became a money lender to the small mining companies that were popping up in the Coquimbo area. This latter profession allowed him to amass a small fortune. His strong anti-Spanish sentiments made him a key figure in the Chilean War of Independence and for his services, the supreme commander Bernardo O’Higgins made him a citizen in 1818. George Edwards later became a member of the National Congress representing various regions.

George Edwards married Isabel Ossandón Iribarren in 1807 with whom he had 8 children: Joaquín Domingo Felipe Benicio Edwards Ossandón, Teresa Gregoria Edwards Ossandón, Juan Bautista Edwards Ossandón, José Santiago Edwards Ossandón, María del Carmen Edwards Ossandón, José Agustín Edwards Ossandón, José María Edwards Ossandón and Jacoba Edwards Ossandón. After Isabel’s death, George remarries in 1834 to Ventura Argandoña Subercaseaux with whom he had no children. He dies on March 4, 1848.

Joaquín Domingo Felipe Benicio Edwards Ossandón was born on August 23, 1808 and was the first born son of the founder of the Edwards line in Chile. He studied in Boston, Massachussetts, USA where he also worked at the company Baker & Hodges. On his return to Chile, he is employed at a bank owned by his uncle Samuel Frost Haviland. He was instrumental in establishing the infrastructure for the mining of the copper fields of Diaguita in La Serena and Lirquén in Concepción. He was mayor of La Serena in 1864 and a representative of the city.

Joaquín marries Margarita Garriga on December 30, 1842 and have twelve children: Joaquín Edwards Garriga, Jorge Edwards Garriga, Margarita Edwards Garriga, Teresa Edwards Garriga, Victoria Edwards Garriga, Matías Edwards Garriga, Luis Edwards Garriga, Elisa Isabel Edwards Garriga, Carlos Fernando Edwards Garriga, Rosa Edwards Garriga, Ana Isabel Edwards Garriga, Guillermo Eugenio Edwards Garriga. He died on November 7, 1869.

Carlos Fernando Edwards Garriga married Javiera Ortúzar Bulnes with whom he had seven children: Javier Edwards Ortúzar, Carmen Edwards Ortúzar, Oriana Edwards Ortúzar, Luz Edwards Ortúzar, Teresa Edwards Ortúzar, Eugenia Edwards Ortúzar, Fernando Edwards Ortúzar.

Javier Edwards Ortúzar married Luisa Hurtado Olea with whom he had four children (in no particular order): Fernando Edwards Hurtado, Eliana Edwards Hurtado, Gabriela Edwards Hurtado and Javier Edwards Hurtado.

Eliana Edwards Hurtado was my grandmother and was born on April 15, 1923 and married my grandfather, Fernando Antonio Vergara Ortúzar, on October 27 1939 with whom she had twelve children. Of those twelve children, my mother is the eldest female. My grandmother died on June 6th, 2001 in Santiago, Chile.