The Kent Family

The Kent Family were responsible for employing many workers from Kingston in the mid to late nineteenth century. For example, in 1861, James Kent farmed 800 acres at Lynch and employed 22 men and 8 boys, while younger brother Charles Kent farmed 876 acres at Blashenwell and employed 18 men and 7 boys. Ten years later saw William Francis Kent (son of James) farming Afflington and Samuel Scott Kent (son of Charles) farming West Hill.

The Kent Family had been associated with Corfe since the early 1700s.

Reuben Kent (c. 1675-?)

Reuben married Elizabeth Doudall (c.1678-?) at Tyneham in 1704. Elizabeth was baptised at Corfe in 1678. She was a daughter of William Doudall, the baker and Rebecca Doudall nee Beale.

Reuben and Elizabeth had five children:

Margaret Kent, baptised at Corfe in 1705
Elizabeth Kent, baptised at Tyneham in 1707
John Kent, baptised at Tyneham in 1709 – see below
William Kent, baptised at Church Knowle in 1712
Rebecca Kent, baptised at Corfe in 1714

When Elizabeth’s father died in 1708, she was bequeathed five pounds, three pounds of which Reuben had owed to his father- in- law! Their two eldest children, Margaret and Elizabeth, were bequeathed 10 shillings each. An Elizabeth Kent was buried in 1725 but this could have been either the mother or daughter.

John Kent (1709-1780)

John Kent was Reuben and Elizabeth’s eldest son, baptised at Tyneham in 1709.

He married Hannah Benfield (1709-c. 1752) at Corfe in 1733. Hannah was the daughter of John and Mary Benfield.

John and Hannah had five children:

Mary Kent, baptised at Corfe in 1735
John Kent, baptised at Corfe in 1736 – see below
Elizabeth Kent, baptised at Corfe in 1738
Hannah Kent, born c. 1742
William Kent, baptised at Corfe in 1745

It is believed John’s first wife Hannah died in c. 1752 when there was a gap of several years in the surviving burial records. Hannah’s father died in 1757 and left £40 to be divided between the five grandchildren and also bequeathed son- in- law John free of any debts owed.

John married his second wife Sarah Osmond neé Sanders (c.1715-1790) at Corfe in 1754. She was the daughter of John Sanders, Yeoman of Langton Matravers and was named in his Will dated 1746.

John ‘the Elder’ was a ‘gentleman and baker’ according to his Will written in 1773. A Codicil was added in 1780 shortly before his death. The Will and Codicil name his wife and children, and even give the names of his three daughter’s husbands.

John’s second wife, Sarah, died in 1790 and she too left a Will naming the family members and many others to whom household items and personal belongings were bequeathed.

John Kent (1736-1798)

John was baptised at Corfe in 1736 and married three times, each time at Corfe.

John married his first wife, Peggy Best (?-1763), in 1761 and they had one son:

John Kent (1763-1836) – see below

Peggy died in 1763 shortly after son John was born.

John married his second wife, Elizabeth Benfield (1735-1792), in 1766 and they had five children:

Sarah Kent (1769-?)
Elizabeth Kent (1770-1847)
Mary Kent (1772-1786)
Richard Benfield Kent (1773-1779)
Thomas Kent (1775-1831) – see below

In the 1790 Census of Corfe Castle, undertaken by Rev. Hutchins, John, a miller aged 53 and wife Elizabeth aged 54 were living in Back Street, Corfe with three children, Sarah 21, Elizabeth 19 and Thomas 14.

John married his third wife, Sarah Briggs (1759-1840), in 1797 and they had one child:

Robert Briggs Kent (1799-1877)

In the 1831 Census of Corfe Castle, ‘Mrs S Kent’ aged 71 and Robert Kent aged 31 were living with the Small family. Shortly after his mother’s death, Robert married Susan Bagg of Corfe and they later moved to Southampton St. Mary. After his wife’s death in 1867, Robert unfortunately ended up in the workhouse.

John Kent (1763-1836)

John followed in his grandfather’s trade as a baker. He married Mary Edmunds (1762-1828) at Corfe in 1786 and they had at least eight children:

John Kent (1787-?)
Ann Kent (1789-1873) married Richard Tomes and lived in Swanage
Richard Kent (1792-1820)
Thomas Kent (1794-1795)
Thomas Kent (1798-1847) did not marry and lived in Weymouth
William Kent (1798-1859) married Sarah Keffen and lived in London
George Kent (1800-1832) married Sarah Hart and lived in Poole
Henry Kent (1803-1864) married Sophia Tallboys and lived in London

In the 1790 Census of Corfe Castle, ‘John Jun’, a baker aged 27 and wife Mary also aged 27 were living in High Street, Corfe with their first two children, John 3 and Ann 1. In the 1831 Census of Corfe Castle, ‘Mr Kent’, a baker aged 68, was living with the Smith family.

Son Thomas (1798-1847) worked for a Solicitor in Weymouth and made various bequests to his surviving brothers, sister, aunt, nieces and nephews. One bequest was a picture of Lord Eldon to his niece Charlotte Thomas (Tomes).

Thomas Kent (1775-1831)

Thomas was the youngest son of John & Elizabeth Kent (neé Benfield).

Thomas married Mary Seymer (1774-1853) at Wool in 1797. Thomas and Sarah had 11 children:

Elizabeth Mary Kent (1799-1861) – see below
James Kent (1800-1882) – see below
Charles Kent (1801-?) – see below
Jane Kent (1803-1803)
George Kent (1804-?)
Jane Kent (1806-?)
Emma Louise Kent (1807-1865) – see below
Thomas Kent (1810-?) married Mary Flower
John Kent (1811-1875) married Sarah Dugdale
Sarah Kent (1813-1891) never married and died at Swanage
William Kent (1816-1836)

When Thomas senior died in 1831 his Will showed he was at Blashenwell Farm near Kingston. He bequeathed the sum of £4,000 to his widow Mary along with other goods and chattels.

Elizabeth Mary Kent (1799-1861)

Elizabeth married William Parmiter (1773-1845) at Kingston in 1838. William was described as yeoman of Encombe Farm and was a widower, his first wife Henrietta having died in 1831. William was Churchwarden of Kingston when the Old Church was built in 1833. He died in 1845 aged 71 and by 1851, Elizabeth was back at Blashenwell with her mother and brother Charles. She died at Swanage in 1861. The Parmiter square pedestal tomb remains as a garden feature in the churchyard immediately surrounding the Kingston Old Church.

James Kent (1800-1882)

James married Hester Talbot (1799-1862) at Swanage in 1829. She was the daughter of Richard & Esther Talbot.

James farmed over 500 acres at Lynch for over 40 years.

James and Hester had seven children:

Richard Thomas Kent (1830- 1854) never married
Charles Kent (1832- 1901) married Sarah Brown and moved to Dewlish
James Talbot Kent (1834- 1905) married Rebecca Macdonald Hodges
William Francis Kent (1836- 1913) married Alice Susan Hawkins
Hester Kent (1839- 1922) never married and moved to Swanage
Jane Kent (1841- 1891) never married and moved to Swanage
George Kent (1844- 1904) married Clara Johnson and moved to Winterbourne Kingston
Sister Sarah was living with the family in 1881.

Charles Kent (1801-?)

Charles Kent was farming Blashenwell in 1841 and an Olivia Scott aged 15 was living with the family. Charles married Olivia Sarah Scott (1823-1854) at Kingston three years later in 1844. Charles and Olivia had five children:

Samuel Scott Kent (1845-1906) married Janet Goddard
Sarah Augusta Ellen Kent (1848-1873)
Olivia Mary Kent (1849-?)
Sydney Herbert Kent (1851-1851)
Louisa Kent (1852-?)
Henry Charles Kent (1854-?)

Olivia died in 1854 aged 32. Charles then married Mary Withers at South Stoneham, Hampshire. Charles and Mary had six children:

Mary Frances Kent (1856-?)
Charles Kent (1858-?)
Annie Jane Kent (1860-?)
William Edward Kent (1864-?)
Ellen Kent (1866-?)
Florence Kent (1867-?)

In the 1881 census Charles (Senior) was shown as blind.

Emma Louise Kent (1807- 1865)

Emma married George Biddlecombe (1807-1878) at Kingston in 1842. Emma died at Woolwich Dockyard in 1865 and is buried at Kingston. Sir George established a trust ‘for the benefit of the poor of Kingston’ and this continued in existence until 1995. Sir George was buried in the churchyard surrounding Kingston Old Church but the headstone was later moved to the lower churchyard.

BIDDLECOMBE, Sir GEORGE (1807–1878), captain and author, born at Portsea on 5 Nov. 1807, was the son of Thomas Biddlecombe of Sheerness Dockyard, who died on 12 Sept. 1844. He was educated at a school kept by Dr. Neave at Portsea, and joined the ship Ocean of Whitby as a midshipman in 1823. After some years he left the mercantile marine, and, passing as a second master in the royal navy in May 1828, was soon after employed in surveying in the Ætna and the Blonde until 1833. He was in active service in various ships from this date until 1854, being specially noted for the great skill which he displayed in conducting naval surveys in many parts of the world. Whilst in the Actæon, in 1836, he surveyed a group of islands discovered by her in the Pacific. When attached to the Talbot, 1838–42, he surveyed numerous anchorages on the Ionian station, in the Archipelago, and up the Dardanelles and Bosphorus; examined the south shore of the Black Sea as far as Trebizond, as well as the port of Varna, and prepared a survey, published by the admiralty, of the bays and banks of Acre. He also displayed much skill and perseverance in surveying the Sherki shoals, where he discovered many unknown patches. A plan which he proposed for a ‘hauling- up slip’ was approved of by the authorities, and money was voted for its construction. For his survey of Port Royal and Kingston he received the thanks of the common council of Kingston, and on 20 Aug. 1843, on the occurrence of a destructive fire in that town, the services rendered by Biddlecombe at imminent risk to himself obtained for him a letter of acknowledgment from the merchants and other inhabitants. Few officers saw more active service. As master of the Baltic fleet, 14 March 1854, he reconnoitered the southern parts of the Aland islands, Hango Bay, Baro Sund, and the anchorage of Sweaborg, preparatory to taking the fleet to those places. He conducted the allied fleets to Cronstadt, and taking charge in Led Sund of the Prince steamer, with upwards of 2,000 French troops on board, he carried that ship to Bomarsund, and was afterwards present at the fall of that fortress. He was employed as assistant master attendant at Keyham Yard, Devonport, 1855–64, and from the latter date to January 1868 as master attendant of Woolwich Yard. He was made a C.B. 13 March 1867, but the highest rank he obtained in the navy was that of staff captain, 1 July in the same year. He was knighted by the queen at Windsor, 26 June 1873, and received a Greenwich Hospital pension soon afterwards. His death took place at Lewisham, 22 July 1878. He had been twice married, first in 1842 to Emma Louisa, third daughter of Thomas Kent, who died 13 Aug. 1865, and secondly, in the following year, to Emma Sarah, daughter of William Middleton, who died 6 May 1878, aged 49.

Sir George Biddlecombe published the following works: 1. ‘A Treatise on the Art of Rigging,’ 1848. 2. ‘Remarks on the English Channel,’ 1850; sixth edition, 1863. 3. ‘Naval Tactics and Trials of Sailing,’ 1850. 4. ‘Steam Fleet Tactics,’ 1857. This list does not include the accounts of the surveys made by him in various parts of the world, and which were published by order of the admiralty.

Page last updated: 10 January 2016

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