He was born on 4 March 1863 at Tavistock. He served as a pioneer missionary in Burma (now Myanmar) from 1887 to 1910 and 1920 to 1924. He established the first leper home in Mandalay and was a translator for the British and Foreign Bible Society. His wife Rebecca (née Edmeades) came from a leading Methodist family in Winchester. He died at Surbiton on 7 December 1936.
His son Alfred Edmeades Bestall (1892-1986) artist and illustrator, was born in Mandalay on 14 December 1892 and educated at Rydal School and the Birmingham Central School of Art and Craft. He served on the Western Front as a driver and mechanic. From 1919 he worked in Fleet Street and became known for his Punch cartoons and his book and magazine illustrations, but especially for the 'Rupert Bear' stories which he wrote and illustrated for thirty years, from 1935 to 1965. For sixty years he was associated with the Surbiton Hill Methodist Church in Surrey, especially with the choir and Sunday School and in a variety of offices. For most of his life he was a keen sportsman and was secretary of the church's tennis and badminton clubs. A blue plaque marks his home from 1936 to 1966 at 58 Cranes Park, Surbiton. He retired in 1980 to Beddgelert, died at Caernarvon on 15 January 1986 and was buried at Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey. There is a permanent exhibition of his work at Rake Court, Milford.