Henry Tenten and family

Henry Tenten

Henry TentenHenry Tenten

Grandad Henry, Christian and Gertrude's 'No 2 son', was born in Bonn in about 1872 and came to this country with the family when he was about 6 or 7 years old.

At the 1881 census, he's living at 15 Church Row with Christian, Gertrude, Theodore, Karolina, Mary and Auguste. By the 1891 census, aged 18, he's moved out from his parents home (they're now in Carnaby Street). He boarding with J Veselovsky and his wife at 181 Hampstead Road, Camden. Veselovsky was also from Germany (Gartenburg, nr Stuttgart I think) and was a cabinet maker - so this must be where Henry first learnt his trade. There was another family (the Mestels) and other boarders at no 181 - all from Germany/Austria. From the birthplaces and dates of the children, it would seem that they came to this country between 1878 and 1885 - about the same time as the Tentens. What was driving this migration, I wonder?

His first language must have been German. I would have thought that he was also likely to have retained a German accent, given his family background and the continuing exposure to German-speakers in his early adult life. So how come my mother professed not to know where the unusual surname 'Tenten' originated?

By 1895, Henry had moved in with his brother Theodore and family at 24 Stephen Street, off the Tottenham Court Road. On 24 Feb 1895, he married the girl next door - Blanche Maria Borrett. Theodor and his brother-in-law John Henry Grant Wall were the witnesses. This must have been a bit of a rushed job, as their daughter Blanche Rose was born on 31 July 1895. Their address was then 106 Stanhope Street, Camden.

By 1898 they had moved to 2 Foley Street, Westminster - a 15 minute walk up Cleveland Street, perhaps calling in on Theodore at number 55 on the way. Marie Caroline (Auntie Marie) was born there on 9 March 1898 and was baptised 17 April 1898 at the Catholic Church of St Charles Borromeo in Ogle Street, W1 - with Henry's brother Theodor and sister Caroline Wall as godparents.

30 Delancey Street30 Delancey Street, Regents Park

Henry, Blanche and family moved to 111 Albert Street (ie back up Cleveland Street and through Hampstead Road) by 1900 when their first son Henry born 18 Dec 1899) was baptised 27 March 1900. They were still in Albert Street for the 1901 census.

The following year they moved to 30 Delancey Street (a minutes walk from 111 Albert Street), where Lillian Gertrude was born in early July.

Sadly, baby Lilian died aged 9 weeks on 5th September 1902. The Death Certificate for Lilian shows the cause of death as "Concussion of brain. Injury of head. Fall from basinette. Accidental". The death occurred in Hampstead Road - perhaps a five minute walk from Delancey Street. I wonder who was carrying Lilian when she fell out of the basket - Blanche, or perhaps one of Lilian's big sisters, Blanche Rose (aged 8) or Marie Caroline (aged 4)?

Lilian, having been born into a Catholic family but dying before she was baptised, will have gone not to Heaven or to Hell, but to Limbo. I hope she was happy there. Unfortunately, the Pope decided in 2007 that Limbo no longer existed. So where is poor Lilian now - evicted? Is she now on some celestial housing list?

Four weeks later, baby Henry died aged nearly 3 at 30 Delancey Street. Cause of death on the Death Certificate for Henry, "Convulsions, Asthenia (weakness)". Blanche Tenten, present at the death.

What a bleak year for Henry and Blanche.

On 31 December 1903, William Theodore was born at 30 Delancey Street. He was baptised on 24 January 1904 at the Church of St Charles Borromeo.

Ernest John was born in 1908, somewhere in Willesden Green.

At the 1911 census , Henry is missing - there's just Blanche and the surviving children Blanche, Marie, William and Ernest. They're now living in a 5 room tenement at 35a Deacon Road, Willesden. Edward ("Teddy", I think Mum called him) was born later that year.

Irene Henrietta TentenMy Mum: Irene Henrietta Tenten
Archibold JamesMarie Tenten's husband, Archibald James
William Tenten?William Tenten?

By 1914, they had moved to 5 Villiers Road, Willesden Green (a 4 minute walk from Deacon Road).

Irene Henrietta (Mum) was born there on 4 April.

Blanche Rose Tenten

Blanche Rose, born 1895, was still living with the family at Deacon Road for the 1911 census. She married Frederick W G Murch ("Uncle Ferg") in 1919 - in Willesden. They had three children; Sheila 1920-2008, Brian William H 1924-2003, and Colin Anthony 1933-1988. See "The Murchs".

Marie Caroline Tenten

"Auntie Marie" married Archibald Stanley James in Mar 1924 - at a St Pancras address. Aged 26 by then, she had probably left the family home, but I don't have the marriage certificate. Archibald (b1894) appears (shop worker) in the 1991 Census at 89 St Stephens Avenue W, Fulham - the son of plasterer Herbert Burton James.

Archibald was a busy chap the year of his marriage: he had sailed from Liverpool on board the Empress of Scotland and arrived in New York on January 11, as "1st class waiter" (5 ft 7, 140lb, see photo). He returned to England, got married and was off again, arriving in New York on 4 July, serving as an "Officers Steward" on board the Aquitainia. Then another round trip, same ship but now promoted to "Staff Captain's Steward", arriving 1 August, another arrival 22 August, and another arrival 12 September - then 24 October, 14 November, 10 December. After that, I can find no further records of his arrivals in New York; perhaps he never left.

UPDATE: From the National Archives, I now have a list of 17 departures of our Archie from Southampton between Jan 1922 and Nov 1926.

William Theodore Tenten

William married Marjorie Follet around 1928. He's shown in the 1950 and 1952 phone book living at 19 Prices Lane, Reigate.

William and Marjorie had three children; Majorie 1929-1985, Josephine c1931 and Edward 1933-1975.

Marjorie married a Pringle in 1949, so there is now a Peter, Margaret, Penelope and a Julian Pringle. Other flavours may be available.

Josephine married a Graham and produced a Penelope Lewis c1956.

Edward married Patricia, so there is now a Cheryl, a Zoe and a Zena Tenten, somewhere in Cambridgeshire - well actually, there probably aren't any of those, as they've probably all married. (Post-script: Cheryl is now Cheryl Cannon, Zena is now Zena Tenten-Elsom. Zena has very kindly advised this on Facebook)

Ernest John Tenten

St Georges Square, PimlicoSt Georges Square, Pimlico

Ernest married Elizabeth Clifford (nee Egan) on 27 April 1935, when they lived at 26 and 15 St Georges Square (Mmm, nice place). A daughter, June Tenten arrived in December. I haven't found any further offspring, maybe that was it. Ernest was listed on his marriage certificate as a 'Motor Fitter'. However, I found an entry in a 1952 Phone Book for an 'EJ Tenten, Elctrcl Genl Engr' living at 66 Worple Road, Staines. He's also listed there in the 1950 phone book - and he's still there in 1966. Now this is interesting - from 1962, there is also an 'R Tenten' further down the road at number 192. Is that a son, I wonder?

R Tenten later appears very close by at 4 Bundys Way, Staines, from 1973 to 1981 - big house, maybe with Thames frontage? But is this just a coincidence? There was Robert Theodore Tenten born in St Pancras 3 October 1925, son of Joseph M Tenten, who was son of Theodore Christian Tenten. Robert died aged 80, Jan 2005, Milton Keynes. Was he the Staines 'R Tenten'?

Elizabeth had been married previously in 1930 to Frederick W Clifford, but he died the following year.

Back to Ernest's daughter June b1935 - a June Tenten sail from Glasgow for Wellington, New Zealand in 1958. Could that be our June?

Edward "Teddy" Tenten

Mum told me of her brother, Teddy, who ran out into the road, was knocked down and killed by an ambulance (on 17 September, 1918). Teddy was 7 at the time, my mother was 4. I now have a copy of the Death Certificate for Edward Tenten , which confirms the cause of death "Fracture of the skull caused by being accidentally knocked down by a Motor Ambulance" - in High Road, Willesden.

So, are there no more male Tentens from this line?

Perhaps the Tenten name is in danger of disappearing, from the Henry Tenten side of the family at least - no male offspring. It's good to see that Zena has chosen to keep it going with a spot of double-barrelling.

The Death of Blanche Tenten, and the Evil Step-Mother

Blanche Maria Tenten (nee Borrett) died on 19 June 1922 at 5 Villiers Road, aged 48. Cause of death on the Death Certificate for Blanche Tenten was "1) Valve Disease of Heart, 37 years  2) Bronchitis, 5 days". So grandma Blanche had had a weak heart diagnosed when she was 11 years old?! Yet she still managed to bear 7 kids.

After Blanche's death, my mother found herself with a step-mother. According to family rumour, Henry and his new beau spent all their time (and money) in the local boozer. Life at 5 Villiers Road was not happy, so William and Ernest moved out. (This may be unreliable hearsay).

My mother was still at Villiers Road when she married in June 1940.