Captain Thomas Charles Fenton Of Stroat House & Waterloo 18-Jun-1815 …
MEMBERS of a local history group have been researching a Forest link with the Battle of Waterloo.
Among the memorials in graveyard at Tidenham parish church is one to a soldier who saw action at the famous battle.
Last Thursday (June 18) saw the 200th anniversary of the battle near Brussels in Belgium which finally ended Napoleon’s dreams of ruling Europe.
Among the 25,000 British soldiers under the command of the Duke of Wellington was Captain Thomas Charles Fenton who later settled with his second wife in Tidenham.
Members of the Tidenham Historical Group have been researching this fascinating link with the parish.
Capt Fenton was born in 1790 and joined the Dragoons at the age of 14 at the rank of Cornet.
He served in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular War and later transferred to the 2nd Dragoons, or Scots Greys, and commanded troops at Waterloo.
He married Harriet Rooke in 1817 and lived at Mathern, near Chepstow, retiring from the army two years later.
They had at least one daughter, Fanny, and one son, Charles Hamilton Fenton, who was baptised at Tidenham in 1827, a year before his mother died.
In August 1830, Capt Fenton married Anne Kensington, the daughter of Anne Seys of Tutshill House – which is now St John’s School and they lived at Stroat House which still stands at the side of the A48.
It is said that he used his prize money from the battle of Waterloo to add the facade to the front of the house.
Fenton died at the house in February 1841 and his daughter Ellen was born ten days after his death.
The memorial stone to Capt Fenton stands against the wall in the graveyard of the parish church of St Mary and St Peter.
The history of the church and other places of worship in the parish is contained in a book published by the group, The Churches and Chapels of the Parish of Tidenham.
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FURTHER DATA re Capt. Thomas Fenton
1830 – One of the owners was a Captain Thomas Fenton who purchased the property in 1830. He was considered something of a hero seeing action in the Peninsula Wars and waterloo with the 4th Dragoons and Scots Greys. It is believed that he used prize money from Waterloo to ‘gentrify’ the façade of Stroat House adding fashionable quoining, the classical pediment over the front door and archway in the stone wall to the front.
This series of letters by Thomas Fenton are held at the Somerset Record Office, references DD/COL 53 Fenton Family and DD/HY 15/6/23 correspondence from George Horton-Fawkes to the 4th Bart. The Somerset Record Office have graciously given permission for me to publish these letters.
Campaigning in Spain and Belgium
The letters of Captain Thomas Charles Fenton, 4th Dragoons & the Scots Greys 1809-15
Thomas Charles Fenton was the son of James Fenton of Loversall and Grinton who married Thomasina Ibbetson of Denton Park. He was one of ten children, his elder siblings were Thomasina, Jane, Mary Anne, Isabella (Bell) and William Carr Henry; his younger siblings being Harriet, Elizabeth, George and Edward.
Thomas Charles Fenton was born in 1790 and became a Cornet at the age of fourteen in the 4th (Queen�s Own) Dragoons by purchase on 13 November 1804 and rose to lieutenant in the same regiment on 22 July 1806 and captain by purchase on 2 January 1812. As such Fenton sailed to the Peninsula in 1809 and saw action throughout the war, at Talavera, Busaco, Usagre, Albuera, Villagarcia, Salamanca, Vitoria and Toulouse. Returning home in 1814, Fenton went on half pay, but transferred to the 2nd (Royal North British) Dragoons, or Scots Greys and commanded a troop at the Battle of Waterloo. Despite all these adventures Fenton miraculously came through these campaigns without wound or serious illness, a fortunate man indeed, or was it his hardy Yorkshire upbringing?
Fenton married Harriet Rooke in 1817 and retired from the army in 1819, living at Stroat House, Stroat, Tidenham, near Chepstow. The couple had at least one son, Charles Hamilton Fenton who married Mary Isabella Salmon in 1846.
With all the Peninsula memoirs being uncovered; is there anything unique about Fenton’s letters? The simple answer is yes, very much. Despite having served with Wellington throughout almost the whole of the Peninsular War, virtually nothing is known of their service, because no memoir of this regiment has ever been published previously. It therefore pains me to mention that I have in my possession transcripts of two sets of letters from this regiment, the second set being that of Fenton’s friend and colleague Lieutenant Norcliffe Norcliffe, whom I have been able to use to verify facts and also to quote sparingly to flesh out incidents briefly mentioned by Fenton. Unfortunately however, the owners of Norcliffe’s letters have declined all requests to publish the letters in full. It is hoped that they will reconsider this decision in due course.
Letters and memoirs of the heavy dragoons in Spain are particularly rare and these letters are therefore of immense value, describing not only their actions in battle, but much of the mundane marching, patrolling and screening that took up much of their time.
It is therefore a great privilege to be able to publish these letters to aid significantly our understanding of the role of the heavy dragoons in the Peninsular War.
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