Jane Bell was the daughter of an agricultural labourer and married an agricultural labourer, but it’s possible she was a domestic servant for a while. There may have been a certain kudos attached to this position; certainly there was in the twentieth century with my own great-aunt. She was quite proud of the fact that she had been “in service” for a time whilst her sisters had been labouring in the mills.
In the 1841 Census four-year-old Jane is with her parents and younger brother, Francis. In 1851, we find the rest of the family, including new brother Samuel, still at the same address in Sturton, but no Jane. There is a fourteen-year-old Jane Bell living as a servant in South Leverton, which is ten minutes away by bus. (Yes, I realise there were no buses then!)
What happened to Jane, if this was our Jane, at South Leverton? She certainly came home to Sturton to give birth to her son William in about 1858 and was still living at home after she married Barnabas in 1861.
Jane had no more children for ten years (unless tragically she had children and lost them in infancy). Her daughters Sarah Jane and Mary Ann are the only children mentioned in subsequent census returns. Until as an old(ish!) lady she is looking after her grandson 10-year-old Frederick Cook in 1901. She died shortly after this census was taken.
Mother of Mary Ann and daughter of John and Sarah Bell
Born Jane Bell in Sturton, Nottinghamshire, around 1837
Married Barnabas Fenton in early 1861
Died 1901 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire