Michael Edwin Fell

From their entries in the 'Landed Gentry' you would never guess that Michael's wife Janet Haig's family had made their fortune as whiskey distillers (two of their children married back into the Haig family), while Michael had a failed attempt to make his fortune as a Lancashire cotton-dealer behind him, by the time he began what turned out to be a brief career in the army.

Lived
28 July 1779 - 25 March 1837
Origin
Sheepy Magna
Father
Dr William Fell, Rector of Sheepy, Leicestershire, d.1819. His eldest son, grandson and great-grandson all succeeded him as Rector of Sheepy.
Mother
Anne Cotton, daughter and co-heir of Robert Cotton of Worcester, and Cradley, Herefordshire.
Address
Lochrin House, Tollcross, St Cuthbert's Parish (1). His children were all born in Edinburgh. (7) Janet's family owned the Lochrin Distillery next door.
Estate
According to Burke's Gentry he was 'of The Elms, Mitcham, Surrey and Wanstead, Essex' (7). According to Montague's history of The Elms it was a boarding school at the time, run from 1826 to at least 1846 by its owner Philip Alexander Prince. (6) Wanstead had been 'one of England's most glamorous country estates' had been sold to a consortium of builders following the insolvency of the previous owners and the house demolished in 1825; but there were other houses on the estate where he might have lived (10). He died in London and was buried at Mitcham. (7)
Profession
In May 1797 aged 19 'Michael Edwin Fell, Gent' became an Ensign in the Manchester and Salford Volunteers (9). He appears to have preferred a career in business to the army, however: in 1803 'Fustian-manufacturers' Isaac Newton and Michael Edwin Fell dissolved their partnership, Newton continuing the business in his own name. On 1 March 1805 James Entwhistle left the firm of 'William Ravenscroft and Company, dealers in Cotton and Twist, Manchester': Ravenscroft and Michael Edwin Fell continuing the business, although by December it was insolvent (6) He was awarded a certificate of bankruptcy in 1809 (8). He became a Captain in the Leicestershire Militia. He was placed on half pay in 1814 which he still was in 1821 (5). According to Burke he fought in the 'Peninsular War, battle of Toulouse [April 1814] etc, and served on a privateer' (7). He led a party of men from Sheepy to enlist in the army, a way for militia officers to join the regular army (11). In his wife's inventory he is described as 'merchant in London'.
Chapel connection
wedding (1816)
Married on
3 January 1816
Spouse
Janet Haig
Children
William Edwin Cotton (1818-1866), Helen Jane (1820-1876, m. James Haig) (3) Robert Walter (1826), Henry Haig (1828) (7), Anne Eliza (m. George Augustus Haig)

Michael Edwin Fell (11)

Sources

  1. Registers of Charlotte Chapel (NAS CH12/3)
  2. Edinburgh Post Office Directory 1818
  3. Janet Callender Haig monument, Dean Cemetery, online accessed 18 October 2011
  4. Peter Beauclerk Dewar, Burke's Landed Gentry of Scotland (Yorkshire, 2001)
  5. A list of the officers of the army and Royal Marines on Full and Half pay, 1821 p.653 (Google Books)
  6. Trewman's Exeter Flying Post 1805 Dec 19
  7. John Elverston, 'Captain Michael Edwin Fell' in The Weald, (online accessed 18 October 2011)
  8. London Gazette, 28 May 1803 p.5, 16 April 1805, 28 December 1805, 3 June 1809 p.18
  9. Dublin Gazette, 6 May 1797
  10. Peter Laurence, 'The Rise And Fall Of Wanstead House In Essex, 1667 to 1857' in Wanstead Parklands Community Project (online, accessed 19 October 2011
  11. I am grateful to John Elverson for additional information and the portrait tentatively identified as Michael Edwin Fell.

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