Edwin Alfred Best was born in Southampton, Hampshire, England in the summer of 1872. He was the son of Edwin John Best (1837-1894) and Sarah Ann Dibben (1835-1875). His parents Edwin and Sarah were native to Chertsey, Surrey and Poole, Dorset respectively and they had married in Southampton in 1860. His father was a master tailor, at one point owning his own business and with several seamstresses under his employ.
Edwin had four known siblings: Marion Adela (b. 1862), Ellen Henrietta (b. 1864), Alice Elizabeth (b. 1866) and Annie (b. 1867).
In the year prior to Edwin's birth his family were living at 107 High Street, Cowes, Isle of Wight. His mother died in 1875 and his father was remarried by the end of the year to a woman named Elizabeth Mary Fryer and gained several step-siblings, Elizabeth Louisa (b. 1876), Mary M. (b. 1879), and George (b. 1880). What became of this marriage is unclear and by the time of the 1881 census Edwin's father was cohabiting with a woman named Louisa Morse, née Head (b. 1846 in Southampton; d. 1918 Southampton). Louisa Morse had been married to a William Lancaster Morse and had at least three children from that relationship. Louisa and Edwin John Best would have, at least, a further three children of their own all though they were never married: Milly (b. 1878), Arthur (b. 1882), and Gordon (b. 1888).
On the 1881 census Edwin and his extended family are living at 14 Gladstone Terrace, St Mary, Southampton. They would be listed at 67 Oxford Street, Southampton at the time of the 1891 census, a boarding house which his stepmother Louisa ran, and Edwin, aged 18, is described as a carpenter's apprentice. His father later died in 1894.
Edwin was married in Southampton in mid-1897 to Annie Elizabeth Pike (b. 1872 in Southampton). The couple would have four children: Edwin Alfred (b. 1898), Leonard George (b. 1899), Ivy Madge (1901-1978) and Horace John (b. 1903).
Edwin and his family appear on the 1901 census living in Clifford Street, St Mary, Southampton and he is by now described as a marine steward. The 1911 census shows the family living at 89 Malmesbury Road, Shirley.
When he signed-on to the Titanic, on 4 April 1912, Edwin gave his address as 87 Malmesbury Road, (Southampton). As a first class steward he received monthly wages of £3, 15s. His last ship had been the Olympic.
Best died in the sinking. His body, if recovered, was never identified. A death announcement was published in an unidentified newspaper:
|Best, Edwin Alfred, aged 36, husband of Annie Best of Malmesbury Road, Freemantle, S-n."|
His widow Annie never remarried and remained in Southampton where she died in 1945. His daughter Ivy never married and died in Southampton in 1978. His two younger sons are believed to have settled in South Africa and his eldest son in North America. What became of them is uncertain.