My Father's Family
(written by Frank Turner Gent, c.1905)
My father Henry Gent was a fine, powerful man about 5ft 10in in height and of powerful build and very light complexion in youth. Whatever his habits were in youth, he was of pale appearance as I remember him, being of very temperate habits and advanced in years. He was of choleric temper, but unassuming, unambitious, frugal in his own personal expenses, yet generous, hospitable and just, never charging patients whom he thought too poor to pay. He continued his practice till far in years after a long life of labour, he going out to Tortola, West Indies, alone at sixteen [?] years old to his brother John the surgeon, coming back to London and taking his degree in the College of Surgeons at age 21, and then going out again all over the United States and Canada. He was extremely industrious, rose at 6 AM and yet despised the accumulation of money. My Father was paralysed the last few years of his life, having several strokes, and his brain quite irresponsible.
My grandfather John Gent of Spen Green I am told was an erratic man, fond of self-indulgence, and averse to the cares and anxieties of a money-making life. He was a Captain in the Yeomanry and seems to have preferred life's pleasures to its cares.
My grandmother Sarah Gent was a tall, light-haired woman, inclined to be sandy, I believe. My Mother always told me she was an estimable, noble-natured woman. She died at ninety two with perfect faculties, excepting for loss of eyesight.
Mary Sarah and Fred were very light in complexion, and I dark brown, after infancy.
Father's sister Mary Gent I knew as a powerful, tall and very dignified old maid who thought a lot of us. She died at eighty five in lodgings at Knutsford, in 1878, she also being blind for some years at the end.
These particulars are all I know of my Father's family. Had his brother John, the doctor in the West Indies, lived, he would have raised the family very much, as he was industrious, clever and ambitious, and massing wealth very rapidly, so had he lived and married would have supplied some wealthy relations. He died while my Father was away in the States and his property and house on Sandy Bay, Tortola, were in the hands of one Belisario who seems to have become a bankrupt, so the estate did not much benefit the family. Aunt Mary Gent had an income of £50 per annum from Middlehulme while she lived.
My Mother Esther Gent was of medium height, dark complexioned in my recollection, yet she said she was light in her youth; economical, intensely industrious and charitable. She kept my Father's large house in Knutsford in perfect order for twenty-six years with only one servant, preserving the fruit of a large garden, making wine, pickles and all the multitudinous duties pertaining to a large establishment, a family and a doctor's many calls.
In 1873 my Father ceased to practise and then let the large house and removed to a smaller at no. 3 Gas Street, Heath Side, where he died 1875; Mother lived there till February, 1881, when she came to live in Manchester where she and I lived nineteen years till her death in 1900, also in February; and to her love, advice and guidance whatever success I have attained is due. I give thanks to God for such a mother. I thought I did my duty to her, but now regret I did not lavish far more affection upon her.
Her Father and Mother lived at Kermincham and then at Astbury, Cheshire. Her Mother Mary Lea, daughter of Joseph and Esther Lea of Withington, Cheshire (where the family appear to have lived hundreds of years) was an honest, upright, strong-minded woman of good life, independent and unbinding spirit. Her Father Thomas Warburton, she told me, had black, curly hair, he led a hard, laborious life for the want of education, but was a stern, upright man. His cousin was Dr Warburton of Betley, who lived in big style and made five of his sons doctors, so the family must have been in superior condition in previous generations. My Mother said her Father's Father was one of the old school, in knee breeches and buckles on his shoes. I neglected to ask her much of the former history of her family during her lifetime. It is almost certain that the family were descended from a younger son of some previous generation of the Arley Warburtons in the same county.
Father and Mother married 23rd March, 1847 at St John's church, Deansgate, Manchester. Mother went by coach from Knutsford to her cousin Mrs Taylor's in Manchester (an innkeeper). Father went there and back on horseback. Mary Sarah was born 17th May, 1847.* About Christmas 1849 Harriet Stanier went to service with them at their house next to the Institute in King Street. (This same servant came to visit Mother in her last illness in January, 1900. She was then a widow named Miller, and living in Cheadle). She lived with them eleven months, while John Henry [Joseph Henry?] was born, 15th October, 1850. Mother went with Father to the Great Exhibition in 1851. She went to live with them a second time about end of 1857, or early in 1858, and stayed four years and a half, so was there at my birth and early years.
My Father bought the large house opposite the Angel Hotel in 1857 where I was born and lived till 1873 (fifteen glorious years), childhood's golden years. We had a sale of a great quantity of furniture in 1873, and removed to Ogden Terrace, Heath Side, my Father being too old for practice. There my Father died March 27th, 1875, aged eighty, in the presence of Mother and me, about noon of the day, Saturday, on which day of the week my sister Mary Sarah had died in 1864 with one day's illness. My Father was paralysed on the left side for some years before he died and his mental faculties also were lost, so his last years were dreary. He was a true, benevolent and charitable man. Mother lived on at that house till February 21st, 1881, the Wesleyan ministers living with her part of the time. I went to Newlands School which I never liked; I loved the Grammar School (Mr Nicholson's) opposite the church in King Street (now a corn store) and learnt what I know there. The latter part of the time I was at business in Manchester, sometimes travelling back each day, and sometimes at the weekends home. Those were happy times. Then having settled in lodgings in Manchester Mother came to me in town, February 1881, and we took a small house at 18, Poynton Street, Greenheys, removing from Knutsford in blinding snow by road. I was then with my brother in the jewellery business in Gaythorn, but left him in May same year, and commenced in the Refuge in October.
On Saturday, December 3rd, 1881 we removed to 37, Mytton Street, then a pleasant, respectable district, and spent four years there. Wednesday, September 16th, 1885 we went to 70, Dudley Grove, Brooks's Bar. In three years more removed on Thursday, November 1st, 1888 to 79, Heywood Street, where I lived when I got married in 1891. On Thursday, September 26th, 1893 Florrie and I removed to 58, Rumford Street, Chorlton on Medlock, I having bought two houses there. Mother still stayed at Heywood Street with Priscilla Warburton from Cambridge, her brother's daughter, and Lily McCoughlin, the child she had partly adopted. She was then sixty-seven years old. We only stayed at Rumford Street ten months, where Franky was born at Christmas 1893. I then sold them. On Thursday, June 19th, 1894 I removed Mother from Heywood Street to 70, Sloane Street and sent most of her furniture into storage, and on Wednesday, July 11th we left Rumford Street to rejoin her there, as I had wished to do ever since we separated.
In 1897 we all went to Dorking to see Mother's sister Aunt Mary Williams. Mother and Lily stayed there three months. On Tuesday, September 21st, 1897 Florrie and I removed to 15, Greenhill Street, Greenheys to one of my houses there, a large, gloomy old place, and on Friday, October 15th, 1897 Mother and Lily came home and never slept away from us again while she lived. In July, 1899 we sent Lily away to a convent at Preston, her mother being a Catholic, and Mother being too ill to keep her any longer. After this Mother seemed to break down and lose health and on December 11th, 1899 when Lily came to visit us she came downstairs for the last time, and I hired a gramophone for her to hear. On February 13th, 1900 at 9.30 at night my dear Mother died in my brother's and my presence without a groan and very suddenly in a fit of coughing, after living with me nineteen years in Manchester. My dear, beloved Mother.
In July I went to see Mother's sister Mary Ann Williams at Dorking and her son my cousin Joe at Southampton to relieve my feelings of loss, leaving Dora at Salford with Mr Barrington, and on October 24th, 1900 removed again to 117, Claremont Road where Randle was born in 1901, so all my children were born in different houses. I resold the houses 117&endash;119 Claremont Road in April, 1905, and also the house Craven Cottage, Craven Terrace, Sale. I bought the Portman Street houses in December, 1905, and removed into number 27 on Wednesday, 11th April, 1906. Mr Barrington was taken ill in July with colic but seemed to improve. We came from holidays at Llandudno on August 18th and he died suddenly at Percy Wilkes' at Weaste on August 20th. A noble, honest man. Life has been more dreary without him.
In April, 1909 my brother asked me to see his employer about bidding for him at some property of his at auction. The man Taylor was a deceiver and almost might have ruined me, by getting me to buy in and then refusing to give me the contract to resell as he had promised. I was distressed for some months till he became bankrupt. My brother did not help me but refused to state what his employer had promised and added to my distress, so it caused an estrangement between us.
In February, 1908 my brother and family removed to Liverpool. On February 14th, 1908 at 6.40 PM Henry Barrington Gent was born. On February 23rd, 1909 I had an accident in Upper Moss Lane, Hulme. Knocked down by tram and thrown under a lurry; left thigh broken, compound fracture, right thumb nearly cut off. Taken in tram to Infirmary, in till March 26th, came home in ambulance, in bed in plaster five weeks more. Lost my large insurance book and crippled.
January, 1913 my dear Florrie began to be ill with internal swelling. On 23rd took her to Bolton to Dr Ryan; said tumour or cancer. 25th seized with great pain in town at Albert Hall, Saturday night, her last entertainment. Monday 27th much worse; Dr Farrow called in. 29th Dr Walls, specialist from St Mary's Hospital, gave me an hour to decide to send her in to be operated on and give them carte blanche. I refused. Later I called in Dr Nesfield and two herbalists. Went worse. February 12th, an awful night, Dr Nesfield fetched by Frank at 1 AM through most awful fog for years. Next day called in Dr Hulme, specialist from Northern Hospital. Mrs Barrington came down and we took Florrie by ambulance at 9 PM to Northern Hospital. Operated on Friday morning, 14th. Mabel and I went up in morning and Dr Hulme said hope lost, could not be removed from the body as it was permeated throughout. My dear lay there being starved to death and bedsore nineteen days. Brought home in ambulance to the front parlour at 27, Portman Street and lingered in misery till 2nd April and died of exhaustion, age 43.
Frank Turner did not continue his chronicle after the death of his wife in 1913. The bereavement was, of course, a blow, and this was compounded by the death of his son Randle in 1915. This is his account of his son's death.
Randle was killed by a motor car in Cross Street, opposite the end of Tib Lane, at 11.50 PM on Saturday, October 30th, 1915. The streets were in darkness owing to the war. The taxi was going at twelve miles an hour with two officers to Victoria Station for Southport, and a wooden boarding was built on the footpath just at this spot owing to some rebuilding, leaving only two feet of footpath for pedestrians. He must have stepped off the path owing to its narrowness, and the taxi swerved into the footpath to escape a tramcar going to Albert Square on the single line just at that spot. Randle was taken to the Infirmary in the taxi with a fractured skull and other injuries - the police report says left arm and right leg - and died at 12.00 AM on Saturday night [31st October, 1915]. He had nothing on him to show his identity, so we could not be sent for to see him alive. We thought he had stayed all night at Seedley and they thought he had got safe home. When Dora went the next day, Sunday, to Seedley and said he had not got home they made enquiries and found a boy was lying at the Infirmary. I was telephoned for to go and identify at the Infirmary and face the grief and cruel loss.