Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Myfanwy Fenton

While wilfing around the internet I came across this reprint of a book originally published in 1863, you can actually read an online version if you have the time to spare!

So who was this Myfanwy Fenton who also translated a book from Icelandic, published in 1877, called Three Sketches of Life in Iceland and a book of poems, St. Lawrence Orphanage published in Copenhagen in 1874?

Myfanwy was the grand-daughter of the Pembrokeshire literary figure Richard Fenton, in the 1851 Census she is living at Glynamel, Fishguard with her uncle John Fenton. She is described as being a governess, 25, born in Waltham, Lincolnshire. From other sources she can be identified as being the daughter of John's brother Richard, a clergyman.

John Fenton was an interesting character, an artist, a musician and archaeologist and Examiner at the Foreign Branch of the War Office. According to his nephew he was "a man of dissipated life, learnt in the circle of Carlton House and association there with the Prince Regent and his companions."

Myfanwy/Myvanwy was an unusual name in Wales in the first half of the 19C, with just 3 examples in the 1851 Census, although maybe there were a few more transcribed incorrectly. In the 1841 Census John Fenton is recorded as staying in the Denbighshire home of Jane, wife of his brother-in-law the Welsh scholar Aneurin Owen. The Owens also had a daughter Myvanwy, born around the same time as Fenton's niece.

Myfanwy Fenton isn't found in any census after 1851. In the 1870s she was a language teacher living in Copenhagen. The book of poetry she published there was dedicated to Baroness Mohrenheim, wife of the Russian envoy to Denmark. Given her uncle's association with the War Office I'd like to imagine that Myfanwy was a spy.


Anonymous said...

Myfanwy was my 3 x GG Aunt, she was the daughter of Richard FENTON and Ann(e) OLIVER. In 1851 she was living with her uncle at Glyn y Mel in Fishguard, Pembrokeshire. I too have not been able to trace her after that date, but am aware that she was a governess at the time of this census, I will however try to trace her in her 'foreign lands' as you have suggested and if I can find her, will advise accordingly. Thank you

Anonymous said...

My family too are related to Myfanwy, descended from the Oliver branch of the family. It would be very interesting to exchange research with your previous correspondent.