Henry Fensham

(2 November 1816 - 31 March 1892)
successor to members of the Shelmerdine and Hollowley families with title to
three copyhold messuages on the lane which became Woodcote Side, Epsom.

43 Woodcote Side, Epsom
43 Woodcote Side, Epsom
With rendering on the gable incised 'Frances Lodge 1876'.
Image courtesy of Brian Bouchard © 2014

The Shelmerdines

On 26 March 1733, at St Mary Magdelene, Old Fish Street, London, Thomas Shelmerdine, a Baker, from East Smithfield, married Amey Parker, daughter of Nicholas Parker.

In 1739, the bride's brother, William Parker, formerly of St Botolph, Aldersgate but then living in Epsom, mortgaged three copyhold messuages of that Manor, on the lane leading from Woodcote Green to the Dorking road, to Thomas Shelmerdine. H. L. Lehmann (The Residential Copyholds of Epsom, 12B5) mentions that the death of William Parker was recorded on 26 October 1742, his three sisters, including Mrs Shelmerdine, surrendered their interest in the equity, and Thomas Shelmerdine was admitted to those premises.

During 1750 Thomas Shelmerdine also acquired a substantial estate at Betchworth [SHCOL 304/K/Box 2, 23, 24 & 28]. In 1755 the Epsom copyhold was described as two messuages in 5 tenements.

A son William Shelmerdine had been buried at St Martin's, Epsom, on 30 March 1748 and his memorial 'of East Smithfield' was erected in the Chancel there. Another son Thomas Shelmerdine, junior, married and had two children but they all died in 1764: buried at St John's, Wapping, he and one of them were interred in a single coffin on 29 January and the other 2 February, presumably having succumbed to disease.

A daughter, Anne Shelverdine (sic) of the Parish of St John, Wapping, by licence 27 October 1752, married James Hollowley at St Katherine by the Tower.

Thomas Shelmerdine, the elder, and his relict Amy were buried at Epsom on 30 March 1765 and 10 July 1768 respectively [Wills PROB 11/908/15 & 11/941/164].

Under Amey's Will dated 4 December 1765 the premises on Woodcote Side were left in trust to her daughter Ann Hollowley, the wife of James Hollowley of Hampton Wick, gent., and her daughter in law Martha Shelmerdine of Parsons Street, Upper East Smithfield, Wapping, widow [presumably of Thomas Shelmerdine the younger], with the rents and profits going to benefit the testatrix's sister Mary Kingscott and the latter's relations as specified in Lehmann 12C6.

The deaths of Ann Hollowley and Martha Shelmerdine were reported on 30 October 1797. At the third proclamation on 1 November 1798 James Hollowley, son, heir & executor of the late Ann Hollowley, refused to be admitted and the property was seized by the bailiff of the Manor during 1799.

James Daniell, the pretender

This property subsequently remained in the hands of the Lord of Epsom Manor until 23 December 1816 when James Daniell, Dorset Place, Clapham Road, Surrey, appeared to declare that James Hollowley has died without issue and intestate about 1804. He claimed to be James Hollowley's nephew and customary heir being the only son of the latter's sister Amey Ann Daniell, nee Hollowley.* James Daniell was then admitted to the three copyhold messuages which at that time were occupied by James Hill, Henry Selsby & William Druett.

On 12 October 1819, James Daniell, woolendraper, of Well street, Cripplegate in the City of London, mortgaged the real estate for a sum not exceeding £500, with interest at 5% p.a.

The Hollowleys

As already noted above, Ann Shelmerdine had married James Hollowley in 1752: their son James, junior, was born in 1756 and a daughter, Amy Ann, in 1758.

Amey Ann Hollowley was joined in wedlock to Thomas Daniell at St John Zachary on 3 February 1776. Children from that union, christened at St John Zachary were: -
28 August 1777, Amey,
19 July 1780, Frances,
31 March 1782, James, and
9 October 1788, Thomas Shelmerdine.
Mrs Amey Ann Daniell, wife of Thomas Daniell, goldsmith died in 1790. Her Will, 'wife of Foster Lane', proved 6 May 1791 devised real estate to James Hollowley, her brother and Executor - PROB 11/1204/173. Her husband was declared bankrupt in 1791 [see case of Wilson v Daniel (sic), US Supreme Court 1797/8 - LINK].

*Evidently the family relationship stated by James Daniell was well founded but James Hollowley did not, as will be explained in the following notes, die without issue.

James Hollowley, the younger, inherited the family estates at Betchworth under the Will of his grandfather, Thomas Sherlmerdine, dated 29 October 1764. He married Jane Stiles, daughter of Edward Stiles from St Giles Cripplegate, about 1786. His first wife's burial came to be recorded at Betchworth on 19 August 1787, apparently following her death after childbirth because a son Thomas was christened at Betchworth 22 August 1787. This only child from the union survived until the age of 15 before interment at Betchworth on 11 December 1802. That fact may have provided some basis for the false claim by James Daniell but actually his uncle had married secondly Agnes Baker, a widow, at St Luke, Old Street, Finsbury, on 20 August 1792.

It appears that James previously fathered an illegitimate son baptised at St Michael's Betchworth, 7 February 1791, with the Christian names James Hollowley, 'child of Mary Balchen'. There is also evidence that the younger James Hollowley got into financial difficulties but was 'bailed out' by his widowed mother during 1793 and sold off the Betchworth estate in 1803. For some time he lived in Hampton Wick but moved around London before settling at Cheshunt where a number of children by Agnes were eventually baptised. These offspring included Henry and Frances Ann Hollowley.

On 31 March 1826, Henry Hollowley, of Pleasant Retreat, Brixton Hill, represented to the Epsom Court Baron that the James Hollowley who had refused admission to this copyhold on 1 November 1798 had died during December 1811 [Interment at Cheshunt recorded to have taken place on 8 December 1811 and his relict, Agnes Holloley (sic), followed hin to the grave there on 1 April 1814], leaving Henry the only son and heir. James Daniell was then displaced as heir to trustees of the three messuages in Epsom, in the occupation of Henry Cleere, Henry Selsby, & William Druett. During 1827 and 1828 the premises were described as out of repair before being forfeited to the Lord and Lady of the Manor. On 26 October 1829 the death of Henry Hollowley, late of Hampton Wick, Middx., yeoman, was recorded.

Not until 3 February 1845 did Henry Fensham, greengrocer, 6 Mount Pleasant, St Andrew Holborn, appear to stake his claim to the property. He deposed that Henry Hollowley had died intestate and unmarried leaving him, his nephew, heir at law.

The Fenshams

Henry Fensham was subsequently admitted to the three messuages occupied by James Hill, William Hall, & Edward Walker.

Henry Fensham's mother, Frances Hallowley (sic) had married John Fensham at St Mary, Lambeth, on 26 June 1813. Henry was baptised at St John the Baptist, Croydon, 02 November 1816 and his brother, John Shelmerdine Hollowley Fensham, 06 December 1818. Frances then appears to have died because John Fensham married secondly Joanna Mills, 24 August 1820, and they had a further 6 children - at least!

Having married Caroline Amelia Rachel Willshire (1826 -1893) in Holborn during 1844, the birth of Henry Shelmerdine Fensham was registered in that District 4/1847 but he had died by 1848. Caroline was registered in Holborn 6/1849 but John born circa 1852 has not been traced. The Fenshams arrived in Epsom before the births of James, 3/1854, & Ann Frances, 12/1856.

The 1851 Census contains Henry Fensham and his wife Caroline A R Fensham on Epsom Common; they had Ede family boarders and there was some confusion over parentage of children in the household.

Caroline Amelia Rachel Fensham absconded with their 4 surviving children to New Zealand on the Oliver Lang which sailed from London, 18 June 1858, and arrived Wellington on 18 September 1858. On 4 November1858, the three messuages were again reported to have fallen into disrepair and to have become forfeited to the Lord of the Manor, after which Dr Lehmann found no further reference in the Epsom Court Rolls.

Caroline is suggested to have become William Challis' 3rd wife, bigamously during 1864 - www.familytreecircles.com.

Subsequently Henry contracted his second (bigamous) marriage to Emma Adams [b. High Wycombe, Bucks., daughter of William Adams (1791 - 1877), Butcher] which was registered at London City 3/1877. One of the cottages in Epsom may have been rebuilt in anticipation this union and named Frances Lodge in memory of his late Mother.

His spouse Emma Fensham, b. c. 1836, appears in the Census for 1881 & 1891 and as a 'widow' 1901-1911, latterly in one of the two Templar Cottages she owned on Woodcote Side - the location of the three messuages which had descended from Thomas Shelmerdine.

Henry Fensham, had been a fruiterer on Epsom High Street in 1890 and for some years earlier. On 31 March 1892, when driving his cart along Dorking Road, his pony shied where men were working on an open man-hole protected by a wheelbarrow. Henry was thrown to the ground, taken home, and died the next day. At an inquest, the Coroner remarked that he did not know why a horse should have so great an antipathy to wheelbarrows but it was a well known fact that a horse looked upon a wheelbarrow as an object of suspicion. Following a verdict of 'Accidental Death', the Coroner suggested there had been a certain amount of contributory negligence on the part of the unfortunate man in riding at his age on empty boxes which he had not taken the precaution to secure in the cart. Mr Fensham was buried in the cemetery, aged 75, on 07 April 1892 and he was joined there 25 April 1912 by Emma Fensham, widow, 77, from the Workhouse Infirmary.

After Emma died a bible given to Henry Fensham by one of his sisters, and recording his burial, was found and passed on to her niece back in High Wycombe who died in 1929. The vacant property appears to have been acquired by Mrs Mary Norbury - LINK.

Brian Bouchard © 2014
With thanks to Linda Jackson for her helpful contribtion.