Persons of Interest – Arthur Kenington Posted 8 April 2019 by Tessa Keough Arthur Kenington was born on 27th December 1863, in the Lincolnshire town of Great Grimsby. Yet in the 1871 census he is listed as living at the New Orphan Houses in Bristol. How did he end up orphaned and nearly 200 miles away? Thanks to existing letters between the village vicar and the owner of the orphanage, and Arthur’s admission record, the story can be pieced together. Arthur was the seventh of eight children born to William Edward Kenington and Eliza Newby, but when Arthur was born only Harry, Gertrude and Walter were alive, the others having died in early childhood. William was a painter when Arthur was born, a trade that ran in the family as Arthur’s uncle, John Kenington, was in the same profession. Grimsby was a thriving town in the 1800’s due to the fishing industry, so Walter may have had a relatively stable income. When both William and Eliza died of tuberculosis in 1869 and 1870 respectively, the children would have been without any immediate financial support. In cases like these the remaining family would usually take in the orphaned children. However, in the 1871 census Harry (described as ‘nephew’) is living with Nathanial and Maria Kirk, Gertrude (age 11) is a servant, and Walter (also described as ‘nephew’) is living with the Lidgett family. One can only presume the families couldn’t afford another mouth to feed. The vicar of the local church, Rev R Shepherd, wrote to the founder of the orphanage, Mr George Müller, explaining Arthur’s plight; it is clear from the letters that Rev Shepherd intended to travel with Arthur to Bristol by train and deliver him to Mr Müller. One can only imagine what the young boy must have been thinking, being uprooted from his family as well as mourning his parents. Only one letter from his brother Harry survives. In it, Harry asks how Arthur is doing and says that he visited their sister Gerty (Gertrude) in Barton ‘a week last Saturday’, having only seen her twice in eight years. Harry also sends ‘best love’ from Aunt Kirk. No reply from Arthur exists, but we can wonder if he ever wished to return to his home town and be reunited with his family, or indeed if he ever saw them again. In 1878 Arthur was taken on as an apprentice decorator under the tutelage of Thomas Brown, thus following in his father’s footsteps. He must have been successful as he is a painter in both the 1901 and 1911 censuses. Arthur Kenington’s apprentice indenture Arthur Kenington’s admission record After a traumatic childhood, it appears that Arthur’s remaining life was happily uneventful. He married Sarah Ann Louisa Payne on 22nd September 1889 in Bristol and raised a family there. It seems that Arthur was settled in the city that was to be his home until he passed away in 1938, aged 74. With many thanks to Sara Young for the letters, Arthur’s admission record and apprenticeship certificate. Without these nuggets of gold, Arthur’s early life would have remained a mystery. Nicola Murphy, Member 7692 On the second and fourth Mondays of each month, we share a short story provided by a member about a person of interest in their one-name study. Whether your person is good, bad, or simply interesting or unusual, please send us your story. This post is from Guild member Nicola Murphy, who is working on her Kennington/Kenington ONS. This is another example of a ONS researcher being able to piece a person’s story together by receiving information from family members. Nicola is a member of the Guild’s Hampshire Region, her Kennington ONS is a category 2 with 4 variants, and she has been a member of the Guild since 2017. Why not submit a story (200-300 words OR a bit longer if need be) about a person of interest in your own one-name study. Email each story and image(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org.