Joseph Shaw Gent

Joseph Shaw Gent (1841-1880) was the only son of George Gent (1816-1872)

Joseph was born at 17 Royle Street, Chorlton-upon Medlock, Manchester in 1841 and baptised at St Mary’s, Manchester on 25 July 1841.  His mother, Elizabeth Gent (nee Shaw) died soon after his birth on 3 July 1841.  Her probate (less than £200) was left unadministered by George his father until after his death in 1873.

Joseph married Annie Lumsden on 18 Apr 1870 in Irvine, Ayr, Scotland, which was the residence of her brother, Frederick Roome Lumsden, who was a public school teacher.

Marriages – Glasgow Herald 20 April 1870 (Extract)

We have yet to find out how they met but her father, Henry Lumsden, was on the 1871 census (just after their marriage) working as a Paper Agent in Hulme, Manchester.  They had 3 daughters: Elizabeth b 1871, Annie b 1872 and Helen b 1874 all born in Broughton, Salford, Manchester.

Joseph worked as a machine maker at his father’s factory – Kendall & Gent in Salford – and lived In Lower Broughton, Manchester.

Joseph died in 1880 leaving nearly £13,000 to his 3 daughters.

Suicide of Joseph Shaw Gent

In the recent digitisation of British 19th century newspapers we found that Joseph Shaw Gent had breathed his last in a particularly spectacular fashion. The Liverpool Mercury of 3 June 1880 reported that Joseph Shaw Gent, aged 39 of the firm Kendall and Gent had cut his throat with a razor in the third class carriage of a train between Rochdale and Castleton whilst of unsound mind.

The Manchester Times article describes at length how the edge of the razor was forced ‘upwards from below his chin, cutting his tongue and then cut into his throat, inflicting a ghastly wound’.

Liverpool Mercury 3 June 1880 (Extract)

Manchester Times 5 June 1880 (Extract)

His doctor gave evidence that as another member of his family had committed suicide his ‘mental aberration’ would seem to be hereditary.

He had suffered 2 personal bereavements which may have affected him badly.  His father George Gent died on 18 May 1872, aged 56 and his business partner, William Kendall, died suddenly on the same date, 18 May, four years later in 1876, aged 57.  He was riding in a trap drawn by a pony when it suddenly slipped (the stones of the carriageway being ‘very slippery’) and fell.  William was thrown out of the cart, hitting his head on the road, knocked unconscious and died.

Manchester Times 27 May 1876 (Extract)

The hereditary reference was to his uncle Jonathan Gent who died in 1867 aged 41 years. Jonathan Gent died from ‘Hemorrhage from a cut wound in the throat – suicidal’.  Joseph Shaw Gent’s mother died, aged 22 years, about 8 weeks after his birth from ‘Child Bed’ (usually haemorrhage or complications after child birth).  His father George died aged 56 years from a stroke ‘paralysis’.  We are descended from Jonathan’s brother John born 1814 (and then John born 1848) who lived in relative poverty as a reed maker in Whittle le Woods and died aged 77.

We know that on the 1901 census two of his daughters, Elizabeth and Helen were unmarried and living on their own means.  Elizabeth lived at No 9 (and later 17) Scarisbrick New Road, Southport with her mother Annie.  Helen was visiting Point Pleasant Hall at Wallsend, Northumberland with her cousin Catherine Lumsden.

The tragic experiences of their early life clearly had an affect on Joseph’s daughters. Elizabeth Gent’s occupation on the 1911 census was ‘Church Worker’ in Southport, Lancs. Helen Gent also went on to a career in the church.  She was a ‘Licensed Lay Worker in the Manchester Diocese’ living in Todmorden, Yorkshire in the 1911 census and by 1935 she was a Deaconess in the Manchester Diocese and living in Prestwich, Manchester.

Joseph’s half sister, Lucy Winder Gent also remained unmarried living on own means and she died 19 March 1904 in Paris, France aged 35 leaving £7,262 12s 9d to her friends Mary Wheatley Jones, spinster and John Langstaffe Dickinson, gentleman.

It has been an obvious trend throughout our research that when a spinster inherits enough money to ‘live on own means’ she chooses not to marry.  This is not surprising because until 1882, upon marriage all goods and possessions of the new bride automatically became the property of her husband.


Jonathan Gent

James Gent

John Gent (1814-1891)