Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Ernest James Fenn

Chailey Parish Magazine lists Ernest James Fenn only once and this is in a special list of attested men published in January 1916.

Ernest was born at Fletching, Sussex around 1868, his birth registered in the district of Uckfield in the March quarter of that year. He appears on the 1881 census living with his family at 4, Camden Crescent, Dover. The household comprised Edwin Fenn (head, married, aged 42, a Colchester born General Medical Practitioner), his wife Alice Anne (or Annie) Fenn (aged 42, born in Ardleigh, Essex) and five children: Ernest (aged 13), Edwin Anthony Fenn (aged 11), Alice Kathleen Fenn (aged four), William C Fenn (aged four) and Leonard H Fenn (aged one). The two older boys had been born in Fletching (as had a sixth child, Grace Fenn, born about 1870); the other children had all been born in Dover. Lending a hand at the house were 18 year old Alice Watson, a general servant and 14 year old Ellen McPay, a nursemaid.

In 1891 Ernest is noted as a 25 year old servant working at a hotel at 24/25 Arlington Street, Piccadilly, London. His trade is given as “Institute Electrical Engineers” which presumably means that he – and another man who has the same occupation listed – was the resident electrician there.

By 1901 Ernest was working as a baker and confectioner and Living at Maltravers Street, Arundel with his wife and three children. By the time the 1911 census was taken, the now 44-year-old Ernest was working as a baker and confectioner working from home at 12 Boundary Road, Hove, Sussex.

It seems reasonable to assume that Ernest was not called to the colours on account of his age. He would have been about 48 in January 1916, well past the upper age limit of 41 for men who were compelled to enlist under the Military Service Act of 27th January 1916. I am unsure where Ernest was living in 1916; quite possibly in Hove still, but his sisters Jessie and Kathleen Fenn were certainly living within or close to Chailey Parish boundaries and were active members of Sussex 54 VAD.

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