I have not found much about the early life of John Fenton. By the time of the first census in 1841 he was already 55 years old. He was established in Bole, not far from his birthplace, as a shoe-maker.
He was married to Sarah and they had three children Isaac, Mary and Barnabas (our ancestor).
By 1851 there are only John and his son Barnabas in Bole. Sarah has died and Isaac is in lodgings in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, where he is working as a labourer in the malt kilns. Mary would have married and left home by now, presumably.
John’s occupation is “master cordwainer”, i.e. he is still a shoemaker. Barnabas is an agricultural labourer, and it looks as though John also puts in some time as a farm worker.
By the time of the 1861 Census John has retired as a cordwainer and has gone to live with Isaac and his wife Frances in Waddingham, Lincolnshire, where Isaac is an agricultural labourer. They have a four-year-old daughter Elizabeth.
Barnabas, our ancestor, is also married and living with his wife’s widowed father in Sturton, East Retford. Both he and his father-in-law are also farm workers.
The census of 1871 tells us a little more of the family’s history:
Isaac is back in his old quarters at Nottingham Place, Gainsborough and at his old job of maltster’s labourer. His wife has died and he is living alone with his fourteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth.
Barnabas and his wife Jane are still in East Retford with their three children – no sign of either grandfather, though.
But the 1881 census is the saddest of all. John is in the workhouse at East Retford. He will die there at the age of 92 shortly after the census is taken.
However, the good news is that John appears to have re-married a lady twenty years his junior! Ann Fenton, aged 71, is listed next to him as an inmate and both are recorded as “married”. It is possible that the workhouse at East Retford had accommodation for married couples and the Fentons are one of five couples listed on this census page.
Food for thought and maybe some further research..
Baptised on 6 May 1785 in Sturton-cum-Fenton (aka Sturton-le-Steeple), Nottinghamshire
Married Sarah Halcon (Halkin) on 16 February 1809
Died 1881 in the workhouse at East Retford, Nottinghamshire