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  • Writer's pictureJessica Feinstein

Henry Penny, gamekeeper

Another of Ari’s ancestors (his 4x great-grandfather) was Henry Penny, who lived all his life in Fonthill Bishop, Wiltshire. British History Online tells us this about the Manor of Fonthill:

“Athelwulf’s morning-gift to his wife Athelthryth was a 5-hide estate at Fonthill which in the late 9th century she sold to Oswulf. Helmstan later acquired it but, when accused of the theft of a belt, his right was disputed by Athelhelm. Helmstan proved his right but for help in doing so and for a life-lease granted the land to Ordlaf. In exchange for land elsewhere Ordlaf in 900 granted Fonthill, then said to be 10 hides, to Denewulf, bishop of Winchester.”*

Henry was born on 28 Sep 1826, christened at All Saints Church on 28 Dec, married there on 5 Nov 1853, and was buried there on 27 Jan 1909.

At the age of 14, he was an agricultural labourer. We can get a flavour of his life from this report in the Salisbury and Winchester Journal of 5 Feb 1853 (from Findmypast):

henry penny salisb and winch jnl 5 feb 1853

He is mentioned in another account from the same newspaper on 15 Oct 1870:

henry penny salisb and winch jnl 15 oct 1870

By April 1871 was living with his wife Mary Ann and four of his six children at Woodbine Cottage, working as a farm labourer. In 1891, his son Walter is living next door with his own family.

In 1901, the last census before his death, he is shown as a game keeper and widower, still in Woodbine Cottage (the last house in the parish), with his daughter Bessie, son-in-law Frederick, and two grandchildren, Thomas and Elsie.


*A P Baggs, Elizabeth Crittall, Jane Freeman and Janet H Stevenson, ‘Parishes: Fonthill Bishop’, in A History of the County of Wiltshire: Volume 11, Downton Hundred; Elstub and Everleigh Hundred, ed. D A Crowley (London, 1980), pp. 77-82. British History Online [accessed 22 July 2017].

Ari, this shows how you are related to Henry:

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