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The Kents lived in and around Shrewsbury in Shropshire for as far back as I can trace them. The name Kent seems to be derived from the Welsh, Caent, which means border or edge. As our branch of the Kents appear to have lived exclusively in the border country of England and Wales for hundreds of years, it is highly probable that they draw their name from there. There are other derivations of the name that I have discovered, one of these is from the Welsh county of Gwent, and the other, more obviously, is from the English county of Kent named for the tribe of the Cantiaci who lived there before the Roman invasion. However I think it less likely that either of these would be the origin of the name. It would probably be safe to assume that the original stock from whom the Kents came were from among the ancient British tribes who inhabited the island before the arrival of the Celts and Romans and before the existence of England, Scotland and Wales as separate countries. These tribes were gradually annexed to the western areas of the country as it was invaded variously by Romans, Angles, Saxons, Normans, Scotti, Picts and Vikings. Finally they were confined to Wales (of which Shrewsbury was originally a part) and the south western Scottish kingdom of Strathclyde.
ROGER KENT is the earliest Kent of Shrewsbury on record, a burgess or businessman born in 1372 (From the burgess rolls). It is clear that Harold Kent, who grew up in Shrewsbury and did much of the early research on the family, believed that this Roger Kent belonged in the family tree, and it is highly probable that he was correct as he had access to family Bibles and other documents that are no longer available, but there is a gap until John Kent of Mardol, born in 1524, also a burgess, from whom we have a direct line.
JOHN KENT of Mardol was born in 1524. He was a burgess of Shrewsbury. The name of his wife is unknown, but he had a son, Roger.
RICHARD KENT born in 1537, had three sons and a daughter, Thomas born in 1559, John, born in 1560, William, born in 1561 and Joan, William’s twin, also born in 1561.
THOMAS KENT was born in 1559. He had a son, Roger born in 1581.
KENT had three sons and two daughters, John, Richard, Henry, Joan and Mary.
He was a master of Shrewsbury School. My father described a
plaque at the school that commemorated him and others with the
“Roger Kent, b.1581, a master at Shrewsbury School, made on May 1st with his fellow housemasters a costly banquet to the Lord President of the Marches, Sir Henry Sidney, when there was also a recitation made by the servers each presenting 10 dishes thus:
are all of Larrance Lore,
Accompt hys hart above hys store.’
ten are all of Baker’s band,
Good wyll not welthe, now to be scande.’
ten are all in Atkys charge,
Hys gyffts are small, hys good wyll lardge.’
ten coom last and are the least,
Bett Kent’s goodwill ys with the beast.’
This was followed the next day by a great display of the schoolboys, who were all taught by these four masters and who numbered 360.” (From the diary of Harold Kent.). I don’t know if the plaque still exists but I would like to think that it does.
JOHN KENT, son of Roger, was born in 1628. He had three children, John, Henry and Richard
HENRY KENT, son of John, was born in 1651. He was a churchwarden of St Mary’s Shrewsbury and with three others, sanctioned the casting of the 4th bell of St Mary’s Church, wheron is his name (ibid). He had two sons, John and Henry.
JOHN KENT had a son, Robert, born in 1733.
ROBERT KENT took a wife named Mary, they had five children, Mary, William, Henry, Richard and Margaret.
WILLIAM KENT son of Robert, married MARTHA COLEFAX on 5th July 1756 at Shrewsbury. They had five children, John, Martha, Mary, William-Colefax and Henry.
JOHN KENT was born in 1760. He was the son of William Kent and Martha Colefax, who were married in 1756. John Kent was a wine and spirit merchant and married SARAH OLIVER the daughter of a publican who owned an Inn at Frankwell, near the Welsh Bridge at Shrewsbury. John probably inherited this Inn from his father-in-law. John and Sarah had nine children.
JOHN KENT born 31st May 1797, was the son of John and Sarah Kent and was a jeweller and diamond merchant and also a silk importer. He was a partner in the firm of Carden and Kent in Shrewsbury. He married JANE JONES daughter of a master bootmaker in Ludlow, a short distance south-east of Shrewsbury. Jane was born on 11th April 1808. She had been brought up by her aunt, Mary Pritchard, who lived at Coton Terrace, Shrewsbury. Sometime in 1828 she quarrelled with her aunt about her plans to marry John Kent, as Mrs Pritchard had apparently wanted her to marry someone else. As a result of the quarrel Jane was sent home to her mother in Ludlow where she remained until her marriage the following year. Fortunately her mother approved of the marriage, which took place at Ludlow Church on February 23rd 1830. Jane gave birth to a son, who was also named John, on 27th June 1834. Sadly Jane became very ill soon after the birth. Knowing that she would not live to see her son grow up, she wrote him letters to tell him all the things she wanted him to know as he grew older. These she left to him on her death on 1st March 1836. She was only 27 and her son was not yet 2 years old. I do not know whether John Kent, her husband, married again or whether some other arrangement was made for the care of his young son. John Kent died in 1860 at the age of 62.
JOHN KENT was born 27th June 1834 at Shrewsbury. Like his father before him he was a silversmith and he was also a pawnbroker, which in those days was a somewhat more honourable profession than it is today. In 1858 he took a wife by the name of EMILY (maiden name uncertain but possibly Green) who was born in Chester in 1838. Together they had five children, John, William, Jane, Charles and Albert. There are some references to them in diaries kept by my father and his sister, but not really enough to know much about them. I have discovered that the eldest son, John was married and that his wife’s name was Mary. The youngest son, Albert was also married and his wife was Louise. I cannot find any record of children from these unions but that does not necessarily mean that there were none. Charles it seems went to America and Winifred, his half-sister speaks fondly of him in her diary. In 1866, Emily died aged 28 and John remarried. His second wife was called ADA. She also came from Chester and was born in 1846. They lived at 6 Trinity Street in Shrewsbury and had a son, Leonard, in 1874. Ada died four years later in 1878 aged 32. John then took a third wife, ELIZA GRIFFITHS, and they lived at Ivy House in St Julian’s Friars in Shrewsbury, where he had his business premises. Eliza had three children by him. The first, Elsie, born on 20th August 1884, died when only six months old on 18th February 1885. The second was Edith Winifred, born in 1886 and the youngest was Harold, born in 1888. I believe that John and Eliza had a happy marriage and unlike her predecessors, Eliza was fortunate enough to live to a ripe old age, until she was 87. Winifred and Harold were both very fond of them and apparently enjoyed their childhood together at Ivy House. I believe that both John and his father were probably artistic for they designed and made jewellery and silverware, and this artistic streak was passed down to Winifred and Harold, who were both keen artists. John Kent died on 15th April 1914 aged 79, and is buried in St Chad’s churchyard in Shrewsbury.