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Fenton, Michael (1789–1874)

We are indebted to the Southern morning journal for the following notice of the late Captain Michael Fenton, who expired on the 6th inst. at the age of 85 years, at his residence, Fenton Forest, about fourteen miles from New Norfolk. His demise leaves another blank in the roll of "old identities," so many of whom have passed away during the last year or two. The history of Captain Fenton is perhaps more interesting than that of any of the old colonists whose deaths we have had the painful task to chronicle lately. He entered the army in the 13th Light Infantry in 1807, and after gallantly serving in India, sold out in October, 1828, with the view of settling in Tasmania. In 1820, under the Horse Guards' order of June, 1820, he received a free grant of 2560 acres of land from the Crown. In 1832, having introduced, at his own expense, eighteen families from Ireland, he was allowed a remission of £20 for each family in the purchase of land from the Crown. He was one of three brothers (the fighting Fentons), all Captains in the army-Capt. Michael, Capt. John, and Capt. Thomas. John gallantly defended his house, near New Norfolk, on one occasion against the bushrangers, and was shot in the eye by one of the villains, for which wound he received a pension of £50 a year from the Colonial Treasury till his death. The subject of our notice was appointed a member of the Nominee Legislative Council by Governor Sir John Franklin in August, 1840; and having resigned with the others of the "Patriotic Six" in the year 1845; he was re-appointed by Royal Warrant in March, 1847. The names of the "Patriotic Six" were Captain Swanston, Captain Fenton, John Kerr, William Kermode, Thos. George Gregson, and Richard Dry, the names of all of whom are now "with the past." In October, 1851, Captain Fenton was elected a member of the Elective Legislative Council for New Norfolk, and Speaker of the Council on the 17th July, 1855, in succession to Sir R. Dry, the first Speaker. On the 13th September, 1850, on the division of the Legislature into two Houses, he was elected member of the House of Assembly for New Norfolk, and first Speaker of the House on the 2nd December, 1850, an honor he held until, by the dissolution of the House on the 8th May, 1861, Captain Fenton's seat became vacant, and he has not since sat in the Legislature. He and his son Michael were placed in the Commission of the Peace in 1857 by Governor Sir Henry Young. Captain Fenton's Roll of Tenantry on the Fenton Forest estate is a long one, extending over nearly thirty families, and the rent roll figures on the Valuation Lists amounted to upwards of £800 a year. He was a most hospitable man, and a thorough type of the real old Irish gentleman. His hop-grounds and irrigated fields, with the extensive water mill and other buildings attached to the mansion, attest his industrious and energetic spirit, which even the great age of an octogenarian had not failed to extinguish.

Original publication

Citation details

'Fenton, Michael (1789–1874)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/fenton-michael-2038/text25089, accessed 22 May 2019.

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