Rank or Title
Date of Birth
19 May 1841
Date of Death
21 Nov 1918
Place of Birth
World War I Address
Place of Death
Soldier or Civilian
Edward Sell Payne, a colourful local character known as 'Major' Payne, died at his home at 81 Cromwell Road, Luton, on November 21st, 1918, at the age of 77. His funeral took place at the Church Cemetery on November 28th.
'Major' Payne was never in the Army, but as a young man served in the Hertfordshire Yeomanry under the command of the Earl of Essex. He attained the rank of corporal, but became much better known among his friends as 'Major'.
Up to two years before his death - “due to congestion of the lungs and ailments consequent upon old age” - he was often seen on the streets of Luton on horseback.
Edward Sell Payne was born in Luton on May 19th, 1841, his mother being the daughter of Luton doctor Edward Sell. Dr Sell was for 30 years High Constable of the Hundred of Flitt and Manor of Luton. His father Charles was a saddler in Park Street who was known as one of the best whips in Bedfordshire.
His parents had married at Luton Parish Church on June 12th, 1840, and celebrated their golden wedding in 1890. As a boy 'Major' Payne had lived at his grandmother's house in Church Street.
Edward Payne was for 14 years superintendent of the Sunday school at Streatley Church, and taught the scholars to read and write. He rode out to Streatley on horseback every Sunday morning and remained in the village all day.
'Major' Payne spent most of his life in Luton, but for 15 years was in Bedford, where he served on the town council as an Independent. Around that time the magazine Vanity Fair published a caricature of Mr Payne under the title 'The Major'.
He left a widow and two daughters.
[The Luton News: Thursday, December 5th, 1918]