Mary Ann’s parents, Barnabas and Jane Fenton, seem to have moved around within Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire, possibly for her father to find work as an agricultural labourer.
In the 1891 census, having been married at the age of seventeen five years before, Mary Ann was staying with her parents whilst her husband John was in Sheffield working as a general labourer, presumably in a steel works.
Her eldest surviving child Lily was one year old. Sadly, this baby would die at some time in the next three months. Mary Ann’s first child, Phoebe, had died in infancy sometime in 1888/9. She would name her next child, born in 1891, Lilian: she survived to become my grandma and was always known as “Lily”.
The family stayed in Gainsborough until the late 1890’s, when they moved to Derbyshire, and in the 1901 census we find them in Cavendish Square. Of course we have to imagine what happened between the census returns: did Mary Ann continue to live with her parents whilst her husband travelled elsewhere for work? Or did they settle down in Gainsborough in their own home?
Mary Ann had five children in Gainsborough and seven in The Square. In 1909 she had a little boy, who sadly did not survive, whom they named Harold Johnson Leachman. I can’t help but think this was in honour of our family, who were established in The Square when the Leachmans arrived.
Mary Ann had twelve children by the time she was 41 years old. In 1911, of the twelve, Lily was married, five were still at home and six were dead.
Mary Ann’s son John William died in the Great War and was buried in France in 1916. When she herself died in 1918, her only remaining son Edward Barnabas was still in France; he would be invalided out of the Army a few months after her death.
At home she left her three daughters Mary Ann, Nellie and Doris aged 17, 13 and 11: all of whom would marry, we know, and hopefully have had happier lives than their mother. My dad remembered his Aunt Mary and her husband Jack living in The Square.
Baptised Mary Ann Fenton on 14 November 1869 in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire
Married John Leachman VI in 1886
Died early in 1918