John Edwards was born in Wexford in 1851 to James and Eleanor and was one of 8 children: George, Matthew, Patrick, Christine, John and the twin daughters Ellie and Minnie. The family moved to Grimsby for work, James taking a job as a Customs officer. George was destined to become a theatre impresario, but John joined the Royal Artillery as a Veterinary Officer in August 1876 in Ireland. He later transferred to the Army Veterinary Department (AVD) as a Lieutenant.
Rising to the rank of major in the Lifeguards in September 1889, Edwards spoke French and Hindustani and during his service with the AVD, he served as a Vet in India and Afghanistan and was awarded the Afghanistan Medal. He was single at the time of his discharge to half pay on 2nd April 1898 (Guards Museum).
Upon retirement "The Major " took on the role as trainer for his brother George`s race horses in Ogbourne Maizey and in the course of attending a race meeting on Saturday 30th June 1906 was involved in a car accident on his way to Alfriston Sussex. The accident was to prove more serious than at first thought and an operation was carried out on Sat 4th August 1906. The operation was carried out by Mr. Keethley of London and Dr. Maurice of Marlborough. (Marlborough Times). It was Christmas before The Major was fit to attend the races at Newbury.
"The Major" as he was known, had ridden many winners whilst serving in India and proved to be an equally successful trainer, eventually joining his brother George in Ogbourne Maizey. In 1909 at the age of 58 "The Major" retired to look after George`s stud farm in Ballykisteen Co. Tipperary Ireland. To replace "The Major" in Ogbourne Patrick (Paddy) Hartigan was employed.