A reluctant retirement

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James Stentiford had married Mary Ann Cross on 3 May 1877, in Marwood Church.* They had four children - Elizabeth Ann (my maternal grandmother), Mary Jane (who I knew as Aunt Polly), Mabel and William (Uncle Bill to me.)

Three of James's children were present at his funeral in May 1928, as was my mother Dorothy, although her mother (Elizabeth Ann, my grandmother), had died in 1922. The others present are listed in this newspaper extract:


Funeral of Mr. J. Stentiford in Ilfracombe

c.15 May 1928

The funeral of Mr. James Stentiford (ex-sergeant Devon Police Force) took place at Ilfracombe on Saturday, the internment being at the Ilfracombe Parish Church, Rev. Bennison officiating. The immediate mourners were Pollie and Will (daughter and son) Mabel and Joe (daughter and son-in-law), Percy and Dorothy (son-in-law and grandchild). Sergeant S. Snell who represented the Police, and together with Constables Stewart, Northey, Eddey, Bater and Searle, acted as bearers.


Among the general public were ex-PC G. Chadder, ex-PC W. Champion, Councillor H. Bryant, E. J. Edwards, C. Cuddiford, T. Parker, E. Ley, J.  Flannigan, S. Norman, W. Jewell, W. Scamp, J. Wilson, G. Pine (representing the Ilfracombe Harbour staff), T. Brooks, A. Brooks, Season Constable Pearce, R. Gammon (representing National Deposit). F. Lord, R. Stevens (clerk's office) J. Tucker and E. Short.

Floral tributes were from Pollie and Will; Will, Abi and Harold,; Mabel, Perce and Pike; Ivy; Mary and Edgar; Mr. and Mrs. Grove Jones and Audrey; all at 12 Brookdale; Mr. and Mrs. F. Lord; and "A" Division Devon Constabulary.

The coffin was of unpolished elm with brass fittings and the breastplate bore the inscription: "James Stentiford, died 8 May 1928, aged 76 years."

Mr. G. Read of Ilfracombe carried out the funeral arrangements.


Most of the family continued to live in Ilfracombe. The exception was James's son William who, after serving in the Army throughout World War 1, moved to Bristol in the 1920s to work as a carpenter.

Most of my knowledge about James and his family, including the photographs and newspaper articles, comes from William's son Harold, who became a Minister and is now retired, living with his wife Joyce in Barnstaple. Harold remembers visiting his grandparents in the 1920s when they lived at 18 Brookdale Avenue in Ilfracombe. He says:

"The adults were busy with their concerns. Grandfather was sitting in his chair in the corner. As I went up to him, I knew that there were no words which could be used. I just slipped my hands into his, and there we were -in an odd kind of way finding comfort. I think that I knew that he was a broken man. When I was older, I was told that he just gave up. Indeed, a case of a broken heart. Often when I was on holiday, I would see him - his form of greeting never changed. It was always "Hello, me sonner..." - there was something very warm about it. I remember him as a man with whom a small boy could be comfortable. James was the last Borough Constable in the County."


Since I grew up in my father's home town of Bristol, we only met the family in Ilfracombe at holiday time. This was when I was taken to meet Aunt Pollie. For some reason, we lost touch with Uncle Bill for many years but I remember meeting him and his wife Abi and their son Harold once, in Bristol, when we all went to hear Harold preach at a church in Clifton.

Harold and I rediscovered each other a few years ago, mainly thanks to Janet Hiscocks, another member of our branch of the Stentiford family. Harold has been very generous in providing access to his records of the Stentiford family, and together we have greatly added to our store of Stentiford family history. We still have much to learn, including what happened to George (James's brother) who was the other policeman featured in Issue 9.


*Marwood is a small hamlet a few miles northwest of Barnstaple, Devon


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