Fenby, Alexander (Alec) Starmer B.A. (1901-1941)

Transcription of obituary published in the Minutes of Conference

ALEC STARMER FENBY, B.A.: born at Loftus in 1901, he entered the ministry in 1924, after a pre-collegiate year at Banbury and a period in Hartley College. He began his overseas work in Eastern Nigeria, among village schools, of which he had, as a supervisor of education, over a hundred in his care. Quickly learning the language of the people, he became the confidant and beloved guide of lonely teachers in the bush and the personal friend of masterful chiefs and unruly boys. He had a great gift of brotherliness, and when, later, he joined the Uzuakoli College staff, he played a great part in building up its high tradition of training men for Christian social service. Beyond the student and the book, he saw an Africa needing men with sincere religion and devotion to Christ as the core of all their learning. The society class was as important to him as the arithmetic class. As Principal of Mfantsipim College on the Gold Coast, he won as high regard and as deep love as he had in Eastern Nigeria. To his new task he brought the same high qualities of mind and heart. 

The Church has lost an able missionary and hundreds of young Africans one whom they knew to be a great friend. He died at sea through enemy action on April 16, 1941, in the seventeenth year of his ministry.


Alec was born on 23 February 1901 at Loftus, Yorkshire, to parents Skelton Fenby, a general manager in Co-operative Society (1911), and Mary Ellen Starmer.

He married Grace Bell Norwell (1905-2001) in the summer of 19290 at Darlington, Co. Durham. Birth records identify two children,

  • Jane A (b1936) – married Raymond A Cooling in 1966
  • Katherine M (b1940) – married Lawrence G Evans in 1961

Alec died on 16 April 1941 at sea.


  • 1921 Banbury
  • 1922 Hartley
  • 1927 E Nigeria
  • 1932 Gold Coast


Methodist Minutes 1941/182

W Leary, Directory of Primitive Methodist Ministers and their Circuits, 1990

Census Returns and Births, Marriages & Deaths Registers

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