Fred Lenton is one of the men named on the Bottesford ‘church list’ of WW1 Servicemen, but information about his service career has not been confirmed.
Frederick James Lenton was born in1887 in Bottesford. His parents were Joseph Lenton, born in 1850 in Bottesford, and Elizabeth Radford, born in Farndon near Newark in 1847. They were married in 1872 in Nottingham.
In 1891, when Frederick was in his fourth year, the family lived at 3 High Street, Bottesford. This can be deduced to have been the third property on the left side of the street going in the direction of Grantham, which is the old farmhouse known as The Chestnuts. Joseph Lenton was a farmer and cattle dealer. When he died in March 1898, in Muston, he left the sizeable sum of £3428 4s 6d to his widow.
In 1901, Elizabeth Lenton was living at 55 High Street (this must refer to The Chestnuts), where she described herself as a farmer, with her son Henry (17, an apprentice lace worker), daughter Mabel (15, an apprentice milliner) and younger son Frederick (13), presumably still school.
In 1911, Frederick was 23, and single. He was living at The Chestnuts with his mother Elizabeth (now 64 years old, a “grazier”), brother Henry (aged 27, “working on farm”) and his sister Mabel (25, “assisting in business”). Frederick himself was now able to describe himself as an insurance inspector.
On the 1st January, 1914, Lenton married Mary Elizabeth Ravell, born 1888, from Normanton, near Bottesford. They would have had a daughter, Mollie Lenton, who died aged only 22 in 1936.
Fred Lenton’s military service record has not been found. There is the service record of a man named, purely by coincidence, Frederick James Lenton, who was 57188 Lance Corporal, Lieutenant, Royal Engineers. However, he came from Stamford, was the son of a man named Harry Lenton (not Joseph Lenton), and was by profession a draughtsman and architect, and was therefore not the man from Bottesford.
There are other service records and Medal Index Cards for men named Frederick Lenton, but none that can be demonstrated to apply to the man from Bottesford. One clue may lie in a newpaper article published on the 28th April 1917 by the Gloucester Citizen, entitled “The Insurance World”, which described the state of the insurance industry at that time. Here, among all the facts and figures, in a paragraph relating to the London Guarantee and Accident Company, is a mention of a Fred Lenton who was the “joint resident secretary at Leicester”. The implication is that this Frederick Lenton, who may well have been the insurance man from Bottesford, had not joined the forces by this date, probably because of his role in what would have been seen as a vital industry.
Frederick Lenton is nevertheless on the Bottesford ‘church list’ as a WW1 Serviceman, and so must have joined up after April 1917, probably as a conscript. MIC records present a number of possible identifications, including:
Frederick J. Lenton, Private 4017 then Acting Sergeant 781024 London Regiment
Frederick Lenton, Pioneer 72931 Royal Engineers
Frederick Lenton, Private 363663 Labour Corps
Frederick Lenton, Driver T/22149 Army Service Corps
Frederick Lenton, Private M/333956 Army Service Corps
None of these can be definitely said to apply to the Bottesford man, unless further information comes to light.
After the war
Elizabeth Lenton, Frederick’s mother, died on 3rd August 1930, and was buried at Bottesford on the 5th August, aged 83. Her will at Probate was a total of £256 17s 3d. Following the death of her husband in 1898, she had maintained the family farm at The Chestnuts, and was listed as a farmer at this address in Kelly’s directories of 1916 and 1928 (the latter when she was 81). In Kelly’s of 1932 the proprietor of the Chestnuts was Walter Lenton, who may well have been a grand-son.
Electoral Rolls and Kelly Directory confirm that from 1924 to 1932, Frederick and Mary Elizabeth were living on The Green, Bottesford, where he was listed as a private resident. According to a member of the Samuel family, he lived in Danby House, and was an insurance agent or insurance inspector. Danby House stands on Devon Lane next to the Earl of Rutland’s Hospital, and could be described as being ‘on the Green’.
Frederick Lenton was not listed in Bottesford in later directories, such as Kelly’s 1936 and 1941, even though he was in fact living in the village still at the same address, as indicated in the pre-war population register of 1939. This records Frederick Lenton, a farmer-grazier born on the 14th October, 1887, and his wife Mary E. Lenton, born on the 22nd May, 1887, living at Danby House, The Green. Fred Lenton served in the ARP during WW2, and Tommy Samuels was employed as his chauffeur.
Frederick Lenton died on the 20th of January 1957 and buried three days later at Bottesford, aged 69. When his will went to probate he had left £10075 3s 8d. His wife Mary Elizabeth died in 1963 and was buried at Bottesford on the 16th January that year, aged 75.