It would have come as no surprise to the congregation of the parish church of Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England when a shoemaker’s son and a cottager’s daughter married on 14 April 1840.1 For three consecutive Sundays, the banns had been read by the church rector, and as no impediments arose in response to his announcement of the couple’s intentions,2 they were married on the Tuesday before Easter.3
John Fenton and Ann Bowskill (also spelled Bouskill), a bachelor and spinster “of full age,” had their union solemnized in the parish church of Gamston, also known as St. Peter’s Church.4 Just a few years earlier, it had been described in a local gazetteer as a historic but perhaps somewhat dilapidated structure: “The Church dedicated to St. Peter, ‘has once been antique,’ but its brasses have been all destroyed or stolen, and its sculptured ornaments are hid behind many coats of whitewash.”5 St. Peter’s Church dates to the thirteenth century, and received what was apparently a much needed restoration in 1855.6
Gamston, located near the community of Retford, was described as “a good village on the east bank of the Idle, where there is a corn mill and a candlewick manufactory.”7 John and Ann did not remain here in Ann’s hometown following their marriage, however, nor did they return to Bole, where John’s father was the village shoemaker.8 In fact, they seemed intent on pursuing opportunities of their own, as within a year of their marriage, they settled in Worksop, about ten miles northwest of Gamston.9
It would have taken the couple several hours on foot to reach Worksop from Gamston, but a pleasant view would have awaited them upon their arrival:
“On the approach from the east, the appearance of the town, lying in a valley, overtopped by the magnificent towers of the church, and baked by swelling hills finely clothed with wood, is extremely picturesque. Its situation is indeed delightful, and both nature and art have contributed to its beauty, for the houses are in general well built; the two principle streets spacious and well paved, and the inns clean and comfortable […]”10
Worksop was deemed a “clean and pleasant market town,” and if John, described as a laborer in the 1841 census, was not already trained in another profession, he may have found employment in agriculture, at a malt kiln, or at one of the many corn mills.11 It was in Worksop that the couple’s eldest children were born, before, within a decade, they immigrated to America.12
1 Gamston, County of Nottingham, England, marriage of John Fenton and Ann Bouskill, 14 April 1840; General Register Office, Retford. John Fenton of Bole was the son of John Fenton, shoemaker; Ann Bouskill of Gamston was the daughter of John Bouskill, cottager.
2 Paul Joiner, “The History of Parish Registers,” Joiner Marriage Index (http://joinermarriageindex.co.uk/history-of-parish-registers : accessed 11 August 2014).
3 “Year 1840 Calendar – United Kingdom,” Time and Date (http://www.timeanddate.com/calendar/ : accessed 11 August 2014).
4 Gamston, County of Nottingham, England, marriage of John Fenton and Ann Bouskill, 14 April 1840.
5 William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Nottinghamshire (Sheffield, England: William White, 1832), 371; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 11 August 2014).
6 “Church of St. Peter, Rectory Lane, Gamston, Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire,” Images of England (www.imagesofengland.org.uk/ : accessed 11 August 2014).
7 William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Nottinghamshire, 371.
8 William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Nottinghamshire, 331.
9 1841 England census, Nottinghamshire County, England, population schedule, Worksop, p. 11, John Fenton; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 August 2014), citing National Archives, London.
10 William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Nottinghamshire, 455.
11 William White, History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Nottinghamshire, 455.
12 1850 U.S. census, Summit County, Ohio, population schedule, Stow, p. 931 (penned), dwelling 33, family 52, John Fenton; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 August 2014), citing National Archives microfilm M432, roll 732.