Private Fenton Stell

Private Fenton Stell, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards. Regimental number 5708.

Served between 1849 and 1872 and during the Crimean War.

Early life:

Fenton was born in Keighley in 1826. His parents were Smith and Mary Stell and they were living at Greenwood place when Fenton was baptised on the 27th August, probably at St. Andrew's Church. Smith was an overlooker and the baptism was performed by The Reverend T. Dury (Rev. Theodore Dury).
In the 1841 census Fenton was 14 years old and living with his parents at Cabbage Croft. The rather vague order of names for Cabbage Croft in this census also shows his Grandmother May Stell aged 90 and sister Sarah Stell aged 20. His father was a packer and sister Sarah was at a factory.
The Cabbage Croft and Long Croft area of Keighley has been completely redeveloped and is now occupied by Morrison's Supermarket and their associated car park and petrol filling station.

Army service:

Fenton's headstone in Utley cemetery records that he began his Army career in 1847 and he would have been 21 years of age at that time. He is listed at the Kensington Infantry Barracks in London for the 1851 census as a Private in the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards.
Fenton had met Mary Ann Sharman (of Beccles in Suffolk), she was six years younger than him. On 31st August 1860, they married at St. Thomas Church in Stepney, Middlesex. Fenton's father Smith Stell was described as a Warehouseman and Mary's father Samuel Sharman was a brickmaker. Fenton and Mary were described as Bachelor, soldier and Spinster and 'of full age' but we know from other records that Fenton would have been around 34 years and Mary, 28 years old.
Their first son Samuel Fenton was born on 21st October 1860 so there must have been some urgency to their wedding as they had only been married for seven weeks before he was born!
Fenton, Mary and Samuel are named in the 1861 census at Croydon Barracks as he was continuing his Army service.
Their second son Albert William was born on 31st March 1862. On 22nd June 1862, Samuel and Albert were baptised together at St, John Church in Croydon by the curate, J. F. Franks.
Fenton served with the First Battalion, Grenadier Guards in the Crimean War and according to his headstone, he took part in the Battles of Alma on 20th September 1854, at Balaklava on 25 October 1854 (The Charge of The Light Brigade took place on this day although we don't know if he witnessed it). Some weeks later he was at the Battle of Inkerman on 5th November 1854, and later at Sevastopol which led to the end of the war after a long siege which lasted for almost a year.
Fenton and his family were recorded living at Victoria Street Infantry Barracks at Windsor in London for the 1871 census. He was 42 and Mary was 36. Their sons Samuel and Alfred were aged ten and nine years respectively.
Fenton had his pension admission medical on 26th December 1871 and probably left the Army shortly afterwards aged 44 years. He had served for approximately 25 years and had been awarded the Crimea Medal with clasps for Alma and Inkerman. We have not found records of clasps for Balaklava and Sevastopol for Fenton Stell, although it is hard to believe he wouldn't have also received them as his headstone specifically names he was present at these battles. The Crimea medal rolls also state he had served with the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards.

Later life:

By 1881 Fenton and his wife Mary Ann had moved back to his home town of Keighley and were living at 11, Providence Place. Fenton was aged 53 and employed as a time keeper at a tool works which is likely to have been Dean, Spencer and Company, North Valley Tool Works. In 1873 this company had became the noted Dean Smith and Grace Tool Works, so it depends how long he had been working for them. Their sons were also living with them, Samuel aged 20 was a teacher at an elementary school and Alfred aged 19 was a model maker - figure (he is likely to be a pattern maker)
Providence Place no longer exists as a street, but it was a terrace of about a dozen houses and situated opposite the modern Keighley College building at the end of Dalton Lane in Keighley. This is just a five minute walk to the North Valley Tool works, assuming that is where Fenton was employed.

The family were still living at 11, Providence Place when their eldest son Samuel married Alice Thornton of Market Street in 1885. He was a teacher. He later taught at Carlton High School for Boys between 1901 and 1925.

In the 1891 census Fenton and Mary Ann were living at 11 Providence Place and both their sons had left home. Fenton was 63 years old and Mary was 56.
By the 1901 census they had moved to 20, Chelsea Street, Fenton was 74 and employed as a spinning mill labourer, Mary Ann was 66 years old. Fenton died shortly after the census on 27th May 1901 and was buried in Utley Cemetery. Mary Ann died less than a year later on January 21st, 1902 and was 67 years of age and she is buried in the same grave. Their eldest son Samuel was also buried here, aged 75 in 1936.

A large grey headstone shaped like a Norman arch at the top. The area around it is grassed and there are other headstones in the background

The Fenton, Mary Ann and Samuel Stell Gravestone in Utley Cemetery, Keighley


The headstone inscription reads:

In Affectionate Remembrance of
who died May 27th, 1901, in his 75th year.
He served his Queen and Country faithfully for nearly twenty three years (1849 - 1872) in the 1st Battalion, Grenadier Guards, serving throughout the Crimean Campaign, and taking part in the Battles of Alma, Balaklava, and Inkerman, and the siege of Sebastopol.
"At rest."
Also of MARY ANN, wife of the above, who died January 21st, 1902, in her 68th year.
"Her end was peace."
In memory of SAMUEL FENTON STELL, who died June 24th, 1936, aged 75 years.
(The stone mason was W. Greenwood, Denholme)


Information sources:

Birth, Marriage and Death Records
1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 census records
West Yorkshire, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1910
London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754-1938
Surrey, England, Church of England Baptisms, 1813-1917
UK, Royal Hospital Chelsea Pensioner Admissions and Discharges, 1715-1925
UK, Military Campaign Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1949
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837-1915
England & Wales, Non-Conformist and Non-Parochial Registers, 1567-1936
West Yorkshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1813-1935
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995
Leeds Mercury newspaper - Saturday 02 April 1938

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