Edward Schnel came to Japan toward the end of the Shogunate's reign as a trader in arms and founded a company at Yokohama.
In the beginning he was patronized by Kihachiro Okura. When the Boshin War (civil war prior to the Meiji Restoration, 1868) broke out he supplied arms to both sides. Later he taught gunnery to the Aizu Clan and was sent to Shanghai to procure new type of firearms for them.
At Shanghai he met Eiichi Shibusawa and tried to get him interested in forming an American-style republic with the Shogun as president. Shibusawa, however, was not interested in this. Later while leaving for America he took along some 10 Japanese men and two women with him and founded the Wakamatsu Colony in California. This was the first immigration of Japanese into America. The project was a failure. After this history has no record of him.
He married a Japanese woman and was called Buhei Matsudaira by his Japanese friends.