Gent Story

Kirkham to St Helens:  1584-1949

We have researched William Gent’s ancestors back to Kirkham, Lancashire in the late 1500s where the Gents were agricultural labourers. However, the links are somewhat tenuous until Jonathan Gent was born in 1699. He worked as a labourer and brazier in Chorley.

The first ancestor with a known ‘personality’ was Jonathan who was born in 1749 who we found dallying with Margaret in Whittle le Woods whilst arranging to marry Grace (our ancestor) in Blackburn in 1777.

The Gents were mainly reed makers or weavers working in the textile industry during the period from the late 18th century until the mid 20th century.  These are highly skilled trades.  The reed is a metal comb fixed in a weaving frame, with the closeness of the wires determining the fineness of the cloth.  It keeps the warp threads spaced evenly and forms a guide for the back of the shuttle.  Their areas of work included Whittle le Woods, Chorley, Blackburn, Bolton and Manchester.

During this period the mechanisation of cotton spinning to water powered factories ensured constant work for the weavers’ rural cottage industry.  This continued from 1790s onwards when steam engines powered the spinning machines ensuring an enormous demand for hand loom weavers even into the early 1850s in central Lancashire before the power loom spread the bulk of weaving to the factory system.

Our research finishes with William Gent who worked as a skilled engineer in a calico printing factory in Whittle le Woods until 1908.  After he married, he moved to St Helens working as an engineer in the laundry department/asylum attendant at Rainhill Asylum until 1948 when William and his wife Margaret Evelyn, with their youngest son Arthur James, retired to live in Egremont, Wirral, Cheshire.  He died 16 February 1949.

Direct Gent Ancestors

Direct Ancestors Place of Birth Life Dates Married
Jonathan Gent Chorley (Lancashire) 1699-1741 Ellen Unknown (    -1733)
Paul Gent Chorley (Lancashire) 1720-     Dorothy Rigby (1720-1776)
Jonathan Gent Chorley (Lancashire) 1749-1795 Grace Medcalf (1746-    )
Jonathan Gent Walton le Dale (Lancashire) 1785-1851 Elizabeth Towers (1787-1862)
John Gent Whittle le Woods (Lancashire) 1814-1891 Ann Bamber (1815-1885)
John Gent Whittle le Woods (Lancashire) 1848-1924 Mary Garstang (1845-1915)
William Gent Whittle le Woods (Lancashire) 1879-1949 Margaret Evelyn Goddard (1878-1955)

Chart: Ancestors of William Gent (1879-1949)

Jonathan Gent (1749-1795)…