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The E.J. Boys Archive

Amended 16.5.2011. Minor edits 16.2.14, 13.4.14.

1218, Private John FENTON — 13th Light Dragoons

Birth & early life

Born in the parish of St. Luke's, Chelsea, and christened there on the 29th of October 1815, the son of Benjamin and Charlotte Fenton.

There is no evidence that his parents were either born or married in the parish, but other children were born and baptised to them there:

Olive, on the 15th of November 1807,

Joseph, on the 25th of June 1810. This is presumably the "elder brother" who was later in the 13th Light Dragoons.

Martha, on the 30th of August 1812.


Enlisted into the Coldstream Guards at Ipswich on the 1st of November 1842. Regimental No. 2716.

Age: 22.

Height: 5' 11".

Trade: Miner.

Appearance: Dark complexion. Hazel eyes. Dk. brown hair.

EJB: He understated his age (in saying that he was 22, when in fact he was 27). Men were normally not enlisted at this period if over 24, unless they had previous service and were re-enlisting.


Transferred to the 13th Light Dragoons after 1 year 61 days' service in the Coldstream, "to be with elder brother", by War Office Authority dated the 15th of December 1843, the regiment being then at Hounslow Barracks.

13 entries in the Regimental Defaulters Book and twice tried by Court-martial. Tried by Regimental Court-martial and imprisoned from the 17th of April — 15th of May 1844 and again from the 13th of February — 28th of March 1851. No specific charges are shown.

Discharge & pension

Discharged from the West Cavalry Barracks at Aldershot on the 30th of August 1864:

"His having been found unfit for further service — Served throughout the Crimean campaign, where he underwent a great deal of exposure. He more or less suffers from rheumatism continually and could not work at any laborious occupation. His disability has not been caused nor aggravated by drunkenness, vice or misconduct. Physical description — Has pock marks on face.

Served 21 years 220 days. In Turkey and the Crimea, 2 years.

His character and conduct have been, "very good."

Aged 43 years 9 months on discharge.

He sent money from the Crimea to his wife, Mrs. F. Fenton, No. 1, Queen Street, Paradise Row, Chelsea. London.


Entitled to the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol.

In possession of four Good Conduct badges, the Crimean medal with clasps for Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Sebastopol, the Turkish War Medal and the French War Medal.

Awarded the French War Medal. The citation for this stated: "Served during the Eastern campaign, including the affairs of the Bulganak and MacKenzie's Farm, the battles of the Alma, Balaclava and Inkerman, Siege of Sebastopol, and Eupatoria."

Further medal information archived.


Life after service

To live in Barnsley, Yorkshire, after discharge, but he received his pension of 10d. per day in the West London Pension District from discharge until going to the Sheffield District from the 1st of October 1868.

Informed that he was eligible for In-Pension at Chelsea Royal Hospital on the 15th of March 1887. Application "Withdrawn."

He may possibly have ridden in the Charge, but no trace can be found of his ever attending any of the veterans' functions or of being a member of the Balaclava Commemoration Society either in 1877 or on the revised list of 1879, which might have been expected seeing that he was alive until at least 1887.

In 1998 a family descendant provided the information that according to the 1841 Census he was resident in Higham (a hamlet two miles from Barnsley, Yorkshire), aged 25, and a miner by trade:

On the 27th of September 1841 he had married Elizabeth (nee Taylor) at Staincross, a village near Barnsley. Following his enlistment in the Coldstream Guards, his Pay Book [presumably extant] gave his mother, Charlotte, as his next-of-kin, thus implying that he was a widower. [But at a later un-specified date this changes to Francis Sarah Fenton, but with no date of actual marriage.] That he was a widower at this time is most probably true (although no proof has yet been found), only unmarried men being accepted as recruits at this time and a man could be treated as "a rogue and vagabond" should he say he was single and yet turn out to be married.

Three children were known to have been born into this second marriage: a son, Matthew, in 1860 at Edinburgh; another son, William Henry, at Aldershot in 1864, and a daughter, Olive Frances, born on the 21st of February 1866, the birth certificate giving the address as Ormes Place, Leader Street, Chelsea.

His wife, Frances, also died at the same address, Ormes Place, Chelsea, on the 27th of January 1869, then being shown as the wife of John Fenton, a Labourer.

EJB: The latter is interesting in that he did not go to live in Barnsley, as stated at the time of his discharge, and that in spite of his medical condition at the time continued to work as a Labourer.

1871 Census

7 Court, Albert Street, Barnsley, Yorkshire.

By the time of the 1871 Census however, he was living at at where he is shown as a widower with three children, 55 years of age, a Coal Miner by trade.

1881 Census

By 1881 he was still living in Barnsley, an unemployed Coal Miner, aged 65,born in Chelsea, Middlesex, with a son, William H, 16, a General Labourer born in Hampshire.

Death & burial

Died 2nd of August 1894.

He died on the 2nd of August 1894, at the home of his daughter, Olive and son-in-law, Benjamin Lockwood, at Pinder Oaks Cottages, Barnsley, aged 79. His death certificate gives his occupation as "Army Pensioner. Late a Private in the 13th Hussars. Formerly a Colliery Labourer."

Although there was a short obituary notice of this in theBarnsley Chronicle on the 11th of August 1894, and family tradition suggests a funeral with military honours, no account of this has yet been found. He is buried in an un-marked grave in the churchyard of St. Thomas at Gawber, despite not residing in or near that parish — however, the parish of Darton (now Gawber) contains Barugh, his mother's place of residence and Higham, his own early home.

Also provided by the descendant family was a portrait of him in uniform, wearing his three awarded medals and also photographs of the gravestone over the grave of his mother, father and two married sisters in Darton Parish churchyard and of the site of his own grave area, just in front of the holly bush, in Gawber churchyard. There are copies in the 13th Hussar file.

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