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Rev. Henry Benson Fendall

Rev. Henry Benson Fendall (1795-1882) – Father of Walpole Chesshyre Fendall
Born at Matson House, Gloucestershire in 1795 to Banker and Barrister William Fendall Esq. (1757-1813) and his wife Jane (née Benson) the daughter of Rev. Dr. James Benson LLD, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Gloucester and his wife Lady Ann (née Bathurst), Henry was the youngest of the couple’s three surviving children.
Educated firstly at Eton and then Cambridge, he graduated BA in 1816. Ordained in 1818, he was in 1820 appointed Vicar of Nazeing in Essex where he met and married Anne Catherine Johnson, daughter of Rev. John Johnson, grandson of Sir Christopher Musgrave 5th Baronet of Edenhall. In the years following their marriage and subsequent moves to firstly the parish of Nunburnholme, and then to the parish of Crambe, both in Yorkshire, eight children were born to the couple – Henry Benson Jnr (1824-1852), Jane Charlotte (1826-1895), Frances Anne (1827-1914), Philip William (1828-1871), Walpole Chesshyre (1830-1913), Emma (1831-1878), Mary Eliza (1833-1903) and Charles Whitelocke (1835-1856).
In 1836, after leaving the two older boys at school in England, Henry moved the family to France – to the village of Launay in Normandy. It is unclear whether he undertook any chaplaincy work whilst there. His clerical record held in the C of E archives state simply that he ‘travelled abroad’. Anecdotally, he has been described as the ‘Absent Vicar’ by the parishioners of Crambe. The family had returned to Yorkshire by 1842 which is where Anne Catherine, having contracted Turberculosis passed away and is buried at St Michael’s in Crambe.
Appointing a young curate to take care of the parish in his absence, in September of 1856 Rev. Henry made the journey out to Canterbury accompanied by two of his daughters, Frances Anne and Mary Eliza. Arriving on the ‘Rose of Sharon’ into Wellington from London and then by the steamer ‘Zingari’ they arrived into Lyttelton on January 25th 1857.
Appointed as curate to Lower Heathcote and Sumner and living at the Heathcote Valley parsonage, he oversaw the building of St Mary’s church on the Bridle Path Rd. He was also appointed curate of Avonside.

The vicarage - Bridle Path Rd

Heathcote Parsonage
Source: Christchurch City Library

The grave at Timaru cemetery of Rev. Henry Benson Fendall

He returned to England in May of 1862 quite possibly to tie up loose ends because the Bishop, perhaps frustrated by Henry’s absence, had appointed a new Vicar to Crambe moving Henry to Vice.

He had returned to Canterbury by 1864 but never returned to the Heathcote parsonage, instead moving to Timaru where he lived with his daughter Frances Anne and her husband Belfield Woollcombe at their home ‘Ashbury’.

He died there in 1882 aged 87 and is buried in Timaru cemetery.


Author: Janine Fendall
Text and pictures kindly supplied by Walpole’s great-great grandaughter, Janine Fendall

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