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27 May, 2017

Identifying the Fells at Huddersfield

Family of Robert & Martha Fell

Family of Robert & Martha Fell at Somerville, Huddersfield

I came across a photograph believed to be of the Fell Family. A count of the people was consistent with Robert Fell and his wife Martha (née Keighley) and their children and the spouses of those children.¹

Robert and Martha had eleven children – all of whom are believed to have outlived their parents. Eight of them married.

Three faces have been pasted (old fashioned scissors and paste!) into the picture* – the two characters directly behind Robert Fell and another standing at the back on the left. * Or more accurately the negative – my print is a single sheet without pastings.

In August 2010 I established that the Census records for 1881/91/1901 indicate that the family lived at Somerville, 4 Hungerford Road, Lindley/Lockwood – a northern suburb of Huddersfield – just off the Halifax Road.  The description of the house (particularly the front entrance) in the Kirklees Council proposal for the Huddersfield Conservation Area matched the photograph.  A visit to the area then confirmed that this photograph is of Somerville.

I was then contacted by Don Hughes in Canada. He is the Great Grandson of Frederick Keighley Fell and thus a third cousin.  Frederick Fell is one of Robert Fell’s children and is believed to have emigrated in 1899 to Quebec.  After Don and I had established that we were related he then sent me a photograph asking me if I could identify it.  It was from the same negative (plus pastings) as the photograph at the top of this item.

However we struggled to positively identify everyone in the photograph.  The 20th of  September 1904 would have been Robert and Martha’s Golden Wedding anniversary.  We were reasonably confident that the central characters are Robert and Martha Fell.  From another photograph from Don, Frederick and his wife Catherine Graham are probably the pasted in figures behind Robert Fell – they are unlikely to have returned from Canada for the anniversary celebrations.

We might assume that the other characters seated at the front are the two eldest children:

  • Elizabeth (my Great Grandmother – between her father and her husband Robert Henry Lendrum) on the left
  • John Charles (between his mother and his wife Susanna Hodgson) on the right

After that it was pretty much guess work based on knowledge of the couples and their ages.

In May 2017 I was contacted by Huddersfield Civic Society concerning some of the homes mentioned on this website. They are publishing a book, ‘The Villas of Edgerton: home to a Victorian elite’ in June 2017.

From the introduction:

A mile or so north-west of Huddersfield town centre, amongst dense tree cover along the main road to Halifax, lies the district of Edgerton.  It is a remarkably well-preserved example of the Victorian villa suburb.  Indeed the architectural historian of West Yorkshire, Derek Linstrum, suggests that Edgerton “can be recognised as the essence of the middle-class suburban ideal, in which buildings and settings merge into a picturesque whole which nevertheless respects each man’s individuality and privacy”…there have been only a handful of demolitions – unlike the much-celebrated Victoria Park in Manchester, or Adel in Leeds, Edgerton is very largely intact.

They were interested in this picture of Somerville. This spurred me to try and find a member of the Fell Surname Line to try and get more details. I eventually made contact with Mr Harry Gillies Fell and he had a further copy of this photograph which includes his grandparents Henry (b 1859) and Helen Shelly Gillies (b 1861) Fell. He confirmed that it was a Golden Wedding photograph and his copy had the names written on the back together with some relationship details. The names on the back assumed Robert and Martha were “Grandparents” – which would imply that the names were added by Harry Gillies Fell’s parents.

The key to the photograph is (relationships on HGF’s copy are in inverted commas, the relationships to Robert and Martha Fell follow the vital dates)

Front row (as deduced) from left to right:

  • Robert Henry Lendrum (b 1859) and
    • his wife Elizabeth (b 1856, née Fell, daughter)
  • Robert Fell (b 1824) and
    • his wife Martha (b 1834, née Keighley)
  • John Charles Fell (b 1857, son) and
    • his wife Susanna (b 1872, née Hodgson)

Middle row from left to right:

  • “Aunt Mary Fell” – Mary Emmeline Fell (b 1865, daughter – unmarried)
  • “Mrs Sydney Fell” – Kathleen née Crowther (b 1865, daughter-in-law, married to Sidney Fell, b 1861)
  • Pasted in: “Mrs Fred Fell, died in Canada” –  Catherine Louisa née Graham (b 1872, daughter-in-law, married to Frederick Fell, b 1864)
  • Pasted in: “Uncle Fred Fell, died in Canada” – Frederick Keighley Fell (b 1864, son)
  • “Granny’s sister and her bridesmaid” – this would be one of:
    • Martha’s elder sister, Mary Hannah Keighley (b 1830),
    • Martha’s younger sister, Elizabeth Keighley (b 1838), or
    • Martha’s youngest sister, Maria Keighley (b 1841)
  • Fanny Constance Fell (b 1872, daughter – unmarried)

Back row from left to right:

  • Sidney Fell (b 1861, son)
  • Pasted in: Herbert Fell (b 1860, “died in Australia”, son – unmarried)
  • Harold Crowther (b 1866, son-in-law, husband of Edith Martha née Fell, b 1867)
  • Unlabelled women – presumed to be Edith Martha Crowther (b 1867, née Fell, daughter)
  • “Auntie Bakewell (Fell)” – Annie Florence née Fell (b 1869, daughter, married to Robert Bakewell, b ~1867)
  • Dr Robert Turle Bakewell (b ~1867, son-in-law)
  • Helen Shelly née Gillies (b 1861, daughter-in-law, married to Henry Fell, b 1859)
  • Henry Fell (b 1859, son)
  • Dr Robert Fell (b 1874, son – unmarried at the time)

¹ Martha’s sister being included and Robert Fell being unmarried at the time allows the number of people to be reconciled to the original supposition that the photo was probably of Robert and Martha Fell, their children and children-in-law.

Robert and Martha’s wedding certificate is not signed by one of the possible bridesmaids

Somerville, Hungerford Road, Huddersfield in 2008

Somerville, Hungerford Road, Huddersfield in 2008

In 2008 the house was undergoing significant restoration (and extension to the rear). The current owner told me that the urns seen flanking the entrance in the 1904 photograph had unfortunately been stolen.

This post was originally written on 18 Aug 2010 and has been substantially revised in 2017.


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