Annie Eliza FENN 
- Christened: 25 Feb 1855, Somersham SFK
- Unmarried (1): Unknown
- Died: 25 Feb 1916, 64 St Helens St, Ipswich, Sfk aged 61
The various census point to an intriguing life for Annie.
1861 - Living with parents, grandmother and brothers and sisters in Somersham
1871 - Living with parents and Oscar, the illigitimate child of her sister Elizabeth, in Somersham. Oscar is shown as the son of her mother Eliza as having given birth at the age of 66! In 1881 Oscar still remains with her parents but is now correctly recorded as grandson
1881 - Living with brother Alderman George Fenn as a housekeeper at 5 Norwich Road Ipswich
1891 and 1901- Living in Ipswich as Head of House with children William Thomas Jacobs, Ernest John, Mabel Annie Harrison and Herbert Edward all Fenns but no sign of a husband. In 1891 her age is recorded as 29 but back to the correct figure of 45 in 1901.
Her four children were born between the 1881 and 1891 census so in theory she could have married, divorced and reverted to her maiden name. However the birth certificates and the St Matthews Church Register all indicate this not to be the case and that all four children were illigitimate. In 1891 she was a charwoman and in 1901 a tailoress working from home living at 5 Tower Ramparts. In both census she is declared Head of House with no indication of widowhood.
The 1880s would have been a difficult time for Annie having stayed at home until her mid twenties to help her aging parents raise Oscar, the illigitimate child of her sister Elizabeth, before finally escaping rural village life to work for her much older brother George as a houskeeper in nearby Ipswich, probably also working for him across the road in the Half Moon and Star. It was during this period that Annie belatedly found time for her own feelings and sought consolation in the arms of one or more lovers giving birth to four children in a period of five and a half years. She no doubt regularly walked the 5 miles back to Somersham to nurse her parents, Eliza dying over 12 months of anemia in 1884 and her father of senile decay in Ipswich in 1887. Annie was present at both of their deaths and as the youngest and unmarried daughter had taken on the responsibility of caring for her aging parents in their last years of life.
All very much conjecture but it would seem likely that she had two lovers - Jacobs and Harrison. We may well be looking for a William Jacobs and a Herbert Harrison. Thomas, William's second name, was probably in recognition of her own father. It is likely that her lovers lived either in her Ipswich parish of St Matthews or her home village of Somersham. In 1881 there is a William Jacobs one year younger than Annie living at 26 Anne Street with wife Mary Ann and daughter Alice. By 1991 they had a son Samuel and had moved to St Mary Stoke, Ipswich. However, although 65 years of age in 1881, my favoured 'father' is a William Jacobs, farming 100 acres in Anne's home village of Somersham with wife Mary 17 years his junior. They never had children. William died in March Qtr 1884 two years after the birth of William Thomas Jacobs Fenn. The early 1880s were a lonely and distressing time for Annie as her parents moved towards the end of their lives and who could blame her if she succombed to the advances of the much older and probable family friend William Jacobs with whom she may have turned for comfort in her time of need.
Son Ernest John Fenn is interesting in that this was Annie's only child not to have a surname as a first name and there is no record found of his baptism. The other children were all baptised in successive weeks at St Matthews parish church the eldest Herbert on 27th March 1889 followed by Mabel on 3rd April and William on 10th April. Why not all together is a mystery. Strangely she gave her second child the name Ernest only two months after her brother George also had a child called Ernest. George's child only lived for a year and there is no record of a baptism. Perhaps Annie new that this child would not live and therefore gave her son the same name?
Known Herbert Harrisons living in Ipswich seem unlikley fathers of Mabel and Herbert. However a possible contender is a William H Harrison builder living 1891 a few doors away from Annie at 22 Norwich Road with wife Sarah and sons William born in 1878, Herbert 1880 and Arnold 1884. In 1881 at nearby Whitton and in St Matthews parish lived a William Harrison with his wife Martha, Groom and Beer Dealer, five years younger than Annie. A possibility especially as Annie's brother George was at that time a farmer and future publican. We also know that Mabel Annie Harrison Fenn claimed at the time of her wedding that her father was William Fenn farmer (deceased). Annies two Harrison children were born in 1887 and 1888.
We know that her father Alderman George Fenn took pity on her in his will but sadly she died in 1916 three years before George's death.
1. Census: England, 1861, Somersham SFK. Annie is recorded as Ann a daughter aged 6 born Somersham
2. Census: England, 1881, 5 Norwich Rd Ipswich St Mathew. Annie is recorded as a sister unmarried aged 25, Housekeeper to widowed brother George
Annie had a relationship with.