Jonathan Gent was born in Chorley on 29 September 1749 and worked as a weaver. He married Grace Medcalf in Blackburn on 8 April 1777 when he was 27 years old and she was aged 30. It would appear that while he was arranging to marry Grace he was also dallying with Margaret Whittle of Whittle le Woods, near Chorley.
We found an Affiliation Order made 4 months after his marriage, for a Jonathon Gent, weaver of Blackburn to pay “8d per week to Margaret Whittle, single woman of Whittle-le-Woods, gave birth to a “bastard son” on 25 August 1777 for “keeping sustentation and maintenance of said bastard child”. He also had to pay “one pound and six shillings to overseers for lying in” to cover the costs of the birth when she was unable to work and lived on the parish.
We might criticise the morals of the working classes at this time but those belonging to the higher echelons of society would appear to be no better, although it could be argued that when people marry for political or materialistic reasons we should not expect their morals to be so high. They may not even like their partner.
It is widely believed that Queen Victoria was not actually the daughter of Edward, Duke of Kent, fourth son of George III but of her mother’s secretary and lover, Sir John Conroy.
Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband is thought to be the result of a liaison between his mother (the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg) and her lover Baron von Mayern, the chamberlain of the Coburg court. This being so you could say that many of the crowned heads of Europe are descended jointly from an unscrupulous Irish soldier (Conroy) and a German Jew (von Mayern).
Also interesting is the fact that Camilla’s great grandmother was Edward VII’s mistress and that there is a widely held belief that Edward VII is, in fact, her great grandfather.
Best of all is information recently unearthed that our Royal Family is probably descended from the child of a French archer who had his wicked way with an English Queen residing in France in 1441 whilst her husband, King Edward IV of England and France was absent from the castle for 5 weeks fighting a French war at the time of conception!
For ordinary people, however, in the 18th and 19th centuries the betrothal was more important than the marriage ceremony and many families insisted on the bride becoming pregnant after the betrothal and before a date for the marriage could be arranged. A barren wife could be a disaster for the extended family. Children were needed to work the land, sometimes to inherit the land and always to look after their parents in old age.
Jonathan’s first child with Grace was Henry Clayton Gent born in Blackburn, 27 March 1778 who died in infancy. A further child, also called Henry died in infancy and a third child, Mary was still-born. Only Dorothy, born in Leyland and his fourth child Jonathan (from whom we are descended) survived. He was born in in Walton le Dale, near Chorley when Grace was 39 years old. Blackburn, Leyland, Walton le Dale and Whittle le Woods are areas in close proximity to each other.