Matthew Fenton was apprenticed to Thomas Law, a cutler and Old Sheffield Plate manufacturer, in 1769. Matthew Fenton & Co was the second firm to register with the newly opened Sheffield Assay Office on the 13th September 1773. Matthew Fenton died in 1795 the business was sold to Thomas Watson. Thomas Bradbury, who had been apprenticed to Matthew Fenton, soon joined Watson as a partner. The firm was renamed Watson & Bradbury.
An order book dating from 1777 to 1795 tells us that Fenton & Co took orders from firms and individuals across Britain. These included orders sent to shipping ports such as Bristol and Portsmouth. A large number of orders were sent to Dublin, from which goods were exported to the Colonies. These orders were mostly made up of small domestic items such as candle snuffers and different types of spoon.