He was the uncle of Admiral Sampson Edwards and Captain Valentine Edwards.
He was serving in the West Indies as early as 1731, was commissioned lieutenant on 30 November 1740, and promoted commander on 6 September 1747. He had the brig Kingfisher 10 from August of that year, and retained her until appointed to the sloop Falcon 10 in June 1752. With this vessel he went out to Africa and then Jamaica with the Assistance 50, Captain George Stepney, and following the latter’s death in May1753 he was posted captain of the Assistance with seniority from 27 December 1753, having brought her home to pay her off. In August 1754 he commissioned the Gosport 44, going out to Africa in November before returning via the West Indies, and in 1756 he was employed in convoy duty.
He enjoyed the command of the Belliqueux 64 from 1760, serving in the Leeward Islands until the latter part of 1761, and thereafter in the Mediterranean before being paid off in August 1763.
Edwards held the command of the guardship Ramillies 74 at Chatham from 1768-70, removing to the yacht Mary in 1770 with which he continued for the next seven years.
Having recommissioned her in November 1776, he commanded the Sandwich 90 at the Battle of Ushant on 27 July 1778, suffering twenty-two casualties and seeing a great deal of action. This vessel was paid off in the following year.
In the meantime Edwards was promoted rear-admiral on 29 March 1779, becoming the governor and commander-in-chief at Newfoundland and flying his flag aboard the Portland 50, although for the most part he lived ashore in St. Johns rather than aboard ship as was the custom of his predecessors. His fag captains were Anthony Hunt, with whom he sailed for Newfoundland in June 1779, Thomas Lloyd with whom he sailed in May 1780, and Hon James Luttrell with whom he left for his station in May 1781. He vacated the post upon the change of the government in 1782, although in effect his command had terminated with his annual return to England in the previous winter.
Edwards became a vice-admiral on 24 September 1787, and shortly afterwards, on the commencement of the Dutch Armament, was appointed commander-in-chief at the Nore, a position he retained until 1792 with his flag predominately aboard the Sandwich 90, Captain Thomas Tonken.
He was promoted admiral on 12 April 1794, and died at Fordwich, Kent on 3 February 1795.
Edwards married Julia Pike of Carbonear, Newfoundland and had issue two daughters.
He was described as a good natured man who went by the name of ‘Toby’ Edwards. Somewhat eccentric and amusing, he had few social graces and believed that seamen were superior beings to all others. During the American Revolutionary War he was termed ‘the Friend to the Rights of Humanity’ by American merchants for his immediate return of prisoners without awaiting an exchange.