Edward Stephen Ayling was born in April 1887 in Bushey. In 1881 his father, James Ayling, who came from Sussex, was living in Islington, employed as a railway clerk.
He was a boarder with Robert and Sarah Conquest and their family and the following year married their daughter, Kate. James and Kate had four children but Kate died in 1890 at the age of 29.
The census returns for 1891 and 1901 show James living with his children at 23 Pinner Road, Oxhey, a property they shared with others. James was now employed as an accountant to a frigate firm. Edward, the third of his four children, attended Watford Boys’ Grammar School.
In 1911, Edward, now 24, and his sister, Kate, named after her mother, were boarding at 58 Kingsfield Road, Oxhey with the Hemming family. Edward was employed as a commercial clerk. His younger brother, Henry Conquest Ayling, also named after his mother, died the following year at the age of 23.