Family Heirlooms


Pedigree of the Gent Family

Discovering the Gent Family

My Father's Family

Family Heirlooms

A Tercentenary: Who was Rebecca?

Treasure Island

Dr Henry Gent: a Life Line

Reading Between the Lines

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Return to Thorn Gent Home Page

There is still a score of items in our family that count as heirlooms, but it is surprising how much has gone. Frank Turner Gent wrote an account in 1902, which he updated for the next twenty years, of his heirlooms and other valued possessions. Here it is, without the values he gave, and with the name of who has the item now. Read the introduction with caution - look at the last sentence!

I having lost two articles of great value and antiquity which ought to have been prized and kept as almost the most valuable heirlooms I possessed, viz. the oil paintings handed down from Aunt Mary Gent which I believe to have been the portraits of Baron Gent and his wife of Moyns, Essex, and which I lost through ignorance of their value, and of whom they were the portraits, is the inducement I have to leave a record as far as I am able in this inventory following, of the remaining goods I possess, so that my family may not be ignorant of whatever few articles I am able to hand on to them, some of which being heirlooms, they will be the fourth generation to have, and this I hope will cause them to be prized more for their sentimental and antiquarian than for their actual value. We have but few of the old family goods as my Father did not care much for vanities, and my Aunt Mary Gent was a spinster in lodgings most of her life, so that few of the possessions of my grandfather or great grandfather came to us. Had a record been left, such as this I am trying to make, from generation to generation, we should then have known whom the portraits represented and never have lost them. It is a failing of youth to value things lightly that do not appeal to our interests just at the time and so many things are lost to families that are bitterly regretted afterwards in the light of greater age and experience, so I hope by this means to prevent my children falling into the same error of despising articles which they ought to value.

There are numbers of people going about at this day all over the country taking advantage of others' ignorance, buying up ancient furniture, silver or valuable articles of all kinds which the owners cannot replace, and I hope my children will prize the few heirlooms which have been in the family for generations, more than they would the things of this date, as it is not everyone who has the privilege of showing relics of many generations of their family.

The oil paintings of this Baron Gent (in Judge's robes) and of his wife (presumably the second one whom he married in 1586) were in our family to this generation. As long as I can remember they were in the possession of my Aunt Mary Gent, my Father's sister, who died at Knutsford 1878, when they became the property of my brother George Frederick Gent who neglected to have them restored, and then were given to me about 1885. I was informed by Mr Warburton the picture restorer of Bridge Street, Manchester, that they were almost past restoring, and not knowing at that time the identity of the portraits I also neglected them till they were lost, and so allowed one of the most valuable heirlooms the family possessed to be lost. It has caused me the keenest regret and I am grieved not to hand such inestimable treasures, over three hundred years old, on to my children as I could have done, as they were given absolutely to me by my elder brother. But they could only have been bequeathed to one of my children had I still had them; and had I been advised that they were capable of restoration, I should have had them restored. These are the only circumstances that reconcile me in any slight degree for the deplorable loss of them. The portrait was dated 1588 Ætat. suæ 50, meaning age 50, so that would give his birth date 1538, same as Baron Gent.

Since writing this I have come to the conclusion I was wrong, as we trace back in Staffordshire previous to that period, so I cannot say who the portraits represented.

Walnut Piano

Bought by my Father at Capesthorne Hall about 1860

Mahogany Inlaid Card Table

which was my Father's. My Mother gave it to me as a wedding present.

Mahogany Bureau Frank

Left to me by Rev. James Turner

Oil Painting of Rev. James Turner Frank

My godfather, left to me by Rev. James Turner. Painted about 1850&endash;60 I should say.

Mahogany revolving Dumb Waiter or What Not


Mahogany Gard-du-vin Ralph

Mahogany Wardrobe

Beech Chest of Drawers


12 dozen Beech Chairs, brass inlaid

From Grandfather John Gent, Spen Green. Real hair stuffed

Small square Mahogany Hall Table

Father's, from entrance hall, old house, Knutsford. [Gave to Mrs Wilkinson, 71, Lloyd Street South, 1916]

Pair mahogany Fire Screens

Oak Kitchen Cupboard

Used to be in surgery at Knutsford since I was born. [Sold to Rex]

Black and Gold Bookshelf

Oak Linen Chest Frank

Grandfather's Spen Green. Old and valuable.

Common dark painted Wash Stand and Dressing Table

Used by Mother till the end

2 Sets Steel Fire Irons


Copper Coal Box

Copper Tea Urn

Given by Mother to Florrie

Plated Sugar Tongs

Father & Mother's

Electro Sheffield Plate Coffee Pot


Oak Night Commode

Used by Father and Mother to the end of life

Mahogany Bed Pedestal or cupboard on legs


Small Mahogany Table Writing Desk with drawer


Mahogany Writing case or Desk of my sister Mary Sarah's Helen

A present from Miss Hollins, Knutsford Given Dora 21st birthday

[Given by Dora to Lyn, and then to Helen] 2 Wine Decanters and three square Spirit Bottles

Cut Glass. Father's

Family Bible Frank - from Grace

Gift from Father to my sister.

2 vols. Middleton's Geography Frank

Father's. I paid 10/- for rebinding

8 vols. Shakespeare

Father's. Unexpurgated edition

China Punchbowl

Bearing a coat of arms, in which I was baptized at our house, King Street, Knutsford

Small Yellow Wood Tea Caddy inlaid with Red Wood Grace

Belonged to my Grandmother's half sister Elizabeth Lowndes, who married Joshua Stonehewer, daughter of Thomas and Mary Lowndes, whose widowed mother married John Booth, Grandmother's father. Date 1760. Sundry old Blue China

Remains of a present to Grandfather. About 15 pieces. 2 round cups, no handle, 2 ribbed, 2 plain, 1 broad, 2 blue & gold, 1 muffin plate, 1 jug, 1 saucer, 1 saucer broken, 1 small plate

Rosewood couch.

Mother's. Sold 1913

Gent's Hair-seated Easy Chair

Mother sat in it to last day of her life

Folding Easy Chair

Given to Mother by Rev. F.B. Sandbach, who was drowned in the Drummond Castle. Sold 1914

Mahogany Half Tester Bed

My Mother died on it that solemn 13th February 1900. Sold

Small mahogany Chest of Drawers with bookshelf above Ralph - no shelf

From Grandfather's at Spen Green. Aunt Mary Gent had it till her death, then it came to my brother and I bought it. 2 Small Blue & White Willow Pickle Dishes

Father's. Valuable.

Old Gilt Upright Console Mirror

This old glass my Mother remembered at grandfather's at Spen Green. Aunt Mary Gent had it till her death, then Fred, and Mother bought it from him, and gave it to Florrie in her last illness. Florrie had flowers painted on it to cover defects.

Small white clothes maid

Given to Mother by her Mother Mary Warburton to use when her first child was born.

Walnut Writing Desk

Frank has most of the letters, Barry rest

Given me by Fred about 1875 containing old American letters of Father's

Pair Oil Paints by Lafosse

Mother age 54 about 1880, myself same date age 21. Including regilding they cost me £4 5s 0d.

Print Bird's Nest

Given me by Mrs Darlington. Gone

Photo Dog & Child

Bought by me 1875

Pair of horns

Bought by me when a lad Dennis

White top dresser

Bought from Fred. Made by Uncle Williams. Sold 1914 for 25/-. Now fetch £6

Print "Thro' my heart first"

Bought when a lad

Green Velvet Drawing Room Suite

Bought about 1887. Only 2 Easy Chairs left

Brass Bed Bolster Pillows etc

Best Brass Fender & Fire Irons and Dogs

2nd do do do

Small Round Table

Painted velvet border. Won at Telegraph Bazaar

Small Square Walnut Table

21st birthday present from Uncle Williams, Made by Uncle Williams.

Small Chess Table

I bought from Mrs Darlington

Mahogany Pembroke Table

I bought in 1900

Black Mahogany Arm Chair

Hair seated. I bought in 1887

Kitchen Arm Chair

Present from Fred Xmas '93. Gone to W.N.

Photograph of Coat of Arms

3 lions heads on shield and crest of griffin sejant. Belonging to Randle Gent son of Grandfather's brother in 1810. Whether the correct one I don't know. It is nearest to the Northampton crest but not exact so causes a doubt.

Pair Oil Paintings: Barton Bridge, Patricroft; Tintern Abbey

I bought from Mr Dunnington 1887, a friend, the artist

Pair Engravings: 'Ruling Passion' and 'Day of Reckoning' 1887

Print, Kylemore Castle, Connemara

In my Mother's frame. Sold

Small Oil Painting Silent Pool, Dorking

Given to Mother by Aunt Williams

Photo Group in Garden 70, Sloane Street, June 1896

For Frank

do do Alexandra Park July 1899

The last of my dear Mother

Pencil Drawing Tabley Old Hall, Knutsford

by Cousin Joe Williams. A present from him Xmas 1900

Copper Pestle & Mortar Sold by Harry

Used by Father in Surgery all his life; these are now valuable

Square Brass Stool

Father's & Mother's. I allowed for it on division of goods

Old Brass bedroom candlestick Spill Case and Snuffer Tray


Marble Clock

Bought from Fred

Oak Clock. Gilt Dial Ralph

Wedding present from Miss Wagstaffes

Green Glass Flower Stand

Present from Mother to Florrie. Gone.


Bought from Fred

Reading Lamp and Shade

Pair Dresden China figures

I gave Flo 1 Ralph via Dora & Lyn

Pair Vases with Birds

Bought 1893

Photo group Flo, Franky and Mabel

About May 97. for Mabel

Plaque Hastings Castle

Mother brought me last time she was away down there in Sep. '93

Portrait of my sister Mary Sarah who died 1864 age 16

Enlarged from a miniature 1903. For Dora

Father's Diploma Royal College of Surgeons year 1816 Sold by Harry

I had framed in oak as he had not thought enough of it to have it framed. For Henry

Coloured Photo of Florrie age 21 1890

Enlarged do of Mother age 68 1894

With little Franky age 6 months

Framed Cabinet Photo given to Mother

Pair painted Flowers white frames

Bought for Flo May 15th, 1901

Walnut Work Box Frank has his letters

Florrie's, with our love letters in it. Given her by Percy on her 21st birthday.

Pair Velvet Wall Brackets for corners

given me by Mother

Pair Coloured Prints, Village Scene and Christmas Bells

Have had them since a lad. Sold 1914

Macrame Corner Bracket

Given to Mother by Miss Dawson of Mytton Street 1882

Mahogany Extending Dining Table

Sold 1914

White Top Scullery Dining Table

Sold 1914

Large Steel Kitchen Fender

Sold at Portman Street in 1913

2 Wooden Kitchen Chairs

Sold 1914

1 Child's High Table Chair

Bought by Mother for Franky 1894

4 Tea Trays

Mother's ever since I remember. Sold 1914

Brass Preserving Pan

Mother's. Sold to W.N. 1918

Carved Stag Wall Bracket

Mother bought us

Electro Plate Toast Rack


Rustic letter rack & Paper Knife

Made for Mother by Uncle Williams

Coloured Photograph "Penmaenmawr"

Gilt Frame

Cot Bed

I bought for Franky. Sold 1914

Hair Mattress to same

Made from one of Mother's

Small Oil Paint Woodford Church, Northamptonshire

where Hattil Gent was vicar in 1671

Framed Engraving Moyns Park, Essex.

The residence of the Gents 400 years 1468 to 1870.

Handkerchief and Glove Box & Leather Work Box

Given by me when a boy to Mother

Plaster Figure of Samuel Kneeling

In the house when I was born

Small Wooden Alarum Clock

Bought by Mother about 1870, used to the last

Light Ash Washstand, Dressing Table, Bed Cupboard and Towel Rail


Small Oak Box size of cabinet photo

My Father's

Small Box with picture on lid size of small photo

My Sister's

Stained [White] Wand Box

Mother's Mother's. My pipe box.

4 Tin Boxes

Father's and Mother's

Tin Cash Box


White Ming Sugar Bowl

Father's and Mother's

Old Jug with E. W. (Mother's Initials)


Lustre Jug

Mother's Mother's. Mary Warburton of Astbury

Brown Lustre Sugar Bowl

Mother's Mother's. Given to Flo by Mother

Pair Devonport Ware Cake or Dessert Dishes

Father's and Mother's. Valuable

4 Green Fruit Plates

Father's and Mother's. 3 round (1 oblong: Mabel broke)

2 White Plates

Blue Flower. Father's and Mother's. Very old.

1 Brown Plate

Father's and Mother's.

Set of Red, White and Gold China

Bought by father from Booth Hall, Knutsford, before I remember

Blue Tea Service

Given to Florrie when married by her Mother, broken now

Silver Plate

Described elsewhere

Blue China Tea Pot

Mother's Mother's

2 Willow Pattern Pickle Dishes

Oblong, with handles

2 Figures under Glass shades

My dear Mother's

Framed Wedding Group, Levenshulme

April 8th, 1902

Framed Wedding Group, Dorking

August, 1900

Framed print, Lawyer and Client

Bought by me 1887

Framed Photo of my sister who died in 1864

Gilt frame. To my brother in 1900

Brass and Iron Bedstead

Hat Peg Valerie

Made from apple tree in Dorking garden by Uncle Williams for Mother

Green Baize Folding Screen

Mother's. Sold 1914 to W.N.

Clerical Walking Stick, Eagle's Head

From Rev. J. Turner

Sugar Cane Walking Stick and Shells

Brought by Father from West Indies Frank Shells lost

2 Iron Fenders

Father's and Mother's

Framed Photo, Village Wedding

Present to me from C.W. Starkie

Child's Wicker Chair

I bought in 1873

Framed Photo, Room at Tabley Old Hall

I bought in 1892

17 vols. Penny Encyclopædia


13 vols. National Encyclopædia

Bought from Fred. I gave to John Henry

6 vols. History of England

Bought from Fred

4 vols. Illustrated Shakespere

Bought from Fred. Given to Edith

My Mother's Album

I gave her Helen

Cabinet Album

Given me by Mother

Life of Thomas Gent of York Frank

Book of Views London

Mother's Bible

and about 170 other books, Father's , Mother's and presents to me, perhaps of little value but valued for the memory of the dead and the past.

Green's History of Knutsford

from Miss Wagstaffe. Out of print

China 12 pint Cup

"The loss of gold is great

The loss of time is more

But losing Christ is such a loss

As no man can restore"

The last present given to me by my dear Mother, Xmas 1899

Besides these there are also five mahogany chairs (viz. 4 small and 1 gent's arm chair [Valerie] and a card table similar to the one I have [Frank - my grandfather brought this home on his handcart from Langworthy Road, Salford in about 1926], which Mother sold to Mr Barrington in June, 1896, for 30/- the lot, while we were at Sloane Street, which belonged to my Father and Mother from my earliest recollection, and possibly to his Father. The arm chair back after Mr Barrington's death, December 1906

There is also a mahogany chest of drawers, an old, solid piece of furniture of my parents as long as I can remember, which Mother also sold about the same date to Miss Bateman, 25, Portman Street for 15/- [Now resold] These and other things were sold owing to bringing Mother's Heywood Street furniture out of storage and being too crowded. I have asked both parties to give me the opportunity of buying these things back when they decide to part with them, and should like either myself or my children to buy them back again for the family, even at increased price. Florrie knows all about both of them. [But now Florrie is dead and no one cares for the things now.]

May, 1903

Framed coat of arms in colours, copied from the copper plate belonging to Randle Gent of Liverpool, eldest son of Joseph Gent, Custom House Officer, my Grandfather's brother, about 1808

June, 1903

Framed photo of 117, Claremont Road, with myself, Randle, Mabel and Dora

September, 1903

Framed Photo of Cousin Mary Williams and her husband William Dinnage, as a present on their visit this date

Antique Swing Toilet Glass

Bought 1904

September, 1904

Spanish Mahogany Bookcase with diamond pane doors

About 130 years old. Made by Miss Ikin's Grandfather, William Ikin, Cabinet Maker, Nantwich about 1795

Spanish mahogany Queen Anne Table on Dog legs

Bought from Mary Ikin of Knutsford, aged 68

Framed picture of the Warburton Coat of Arms

A present from Mother's sister's son, Cousin Joe Williams, Southampton

Picture, Views of Arley Hall, Cheshire, the Warburton's Seat

3 Light Walnut Chairs, Cabriole legs, seated in red tapestry

Bought while at Portman Street, May, 1906

Red Repp and mahogany Easy chair

Carpet and hearth Rug, Front Room. Artingestall [?] & Hinds

Black and Gilt and Ormolu Mirror

Bought in Demesne Road, June, 1906 [Sold 1913]

2 Oak Tea Trays

Wringing machine

Oak Coal Box

Paper Knife made for Mother by Uncle Joseph Williams of Dorking in 1889 from tree grown on Friends' Burial Ground

Paper Knife made by cousin Joe Williams from wood of the old yew tree at the old disused churchyard at Shaw Heath, Knutsford. We gathered it in our visit 1892

December, 1906

Mahogany Arm Chair (Red mahogany) [not the black one which I bought after Mother selling this and 4 small chairs and card table that used to be in sitting room at Knutsford, to Mr Barrington in 1896. Mrs Barrington gave me the arm chair back after Mr Barrington's death.]

May, 1907

Old Oak Gate Leg Table

Bought from Mrs J. Hodson, 39, Worthington Street. It belonged to her father, Mr Urmston, and to his uncle, Mr Urmston, a farmer near Stockport. About 100 years old. It has had a new oak top but I got the old top also lest I wished to put it on again. [Sold to W.N.]

August, 1907

Framed Oil Painting of Middlehulme which had been in our family off and on since 1540

Mahogany Toilet Glass

Ditto antique

December, 1907

Toilet Service

37 chairs in house

Old Black Wood, rush bottom arm chair broad seat.

Gave it to Randle


Pair old Sheffield Plate Candlesticks, very old


Gramophone and 75 records

Sold at 69, Lloyd Street South, 1920


Tea Pot, Sugar Basin and Cream Ewer. Electro Plate


Sewing Machine for Mabel from Mrs Blyswych

Chest of Drawers for Mabel from Mrs Lewis


Mahogany Dressing Table and Wash Stand

from Clyde Road

Painted Dressing Table and Wash Stand

from Clyde Road

To Frank

2 Chairs Green Velvet

Hair Seated Mahogany Sofa

Large Chest Drawers

Cellar Table, loose top and 2 Kitchen Chairs


Frank Turner Gent died on 30th July, 1940, at St Joseph's Nursing Home, Whalley Range, Manchester. My father, Frank Dennis Gent, recalls his death:

'I only remember my granpa Gent as an old man who disliked children and hardly ever spoke to us. We seldom went to visit him at St Chad's Road for that reason, and in his last years he became quite senile and even more remote from us grandchildren… He did have a housekeeper (my parents thought she was rather more than that!) for many years, a Mrs Dewhurst, who was immensely fat… The contents fell into the hands of the unscrupulous dealer who bought the contents of St Chad's. After my grandfather died his body was brought to 16, Manley Road. His open coffin stood on trestles in the downstairs front room, and, knowing he was there, I could not resist opening the door and looking in. He was the first dead person I had ever seen, but I do not remember feeling any emotion.

I don't think my father got anything except the large bowl, the one with leaves and fruit in heavy relief all over the outside. It couldn't have had much value because I always remember it as being chipped, though not so much as when I last saw it at Mons Hall. It was left to Dad, as the funeral arrangements had been, to dispose of the property. I honestly don't think my father was aware of what were family heirlooms, apart from the obvious ones. Dad arranged to meet a dealer at St Chad's, he walked through all the rooms, came downstairs and said to Dad, 'It's only worth £10…' and that was that.'

In this way, and in fact for only £4 10s 0d, the majority of the items described in this inventory were lost for ever, tough some of the furniture was shared out. The certificate, and the pestle and mortar, that were left to Uncle Harry Gent were sold by him in his shop in Paignton in the 1960s. My Aunt Lyn saw them in the shop, and wrote asking to be allowed to buy them, but receive no reply. The possessions of my Great Aunt Dora were mostly in storage, and eventually sold, as she waited in vain to buy herself a home. She gave several small items to Lyn, and these have now been handed on. From an early age I started to hoard old family papers, and for this reason she gave some of the old American letters to me. Others she gave to my cousin Barry Shaw, who kindly allowed me to copy the rest.

The oil painting of the Rev. James Turner lost its frame when it was chopped up as part of a tidy-up in about 1960. The torn canvas was rolled up and left down the cellar. I found it a few years later and attempted to rescue it, so that the face is still preserved. The bureau now needs extensive repairs and restoration. The runners to the drawers have been replaced, as have, unfortunately, the handles. The Life of Thomas Gent has been rebound for me by my parents, at considerable expense, as had done to Frank Turner Gent's notebook, from which this and other extracts are taken. Grace gave me Mary Sarah's bible and sampler.

This inventory, though, does allow us in our imagination to see the family home, fill it with furniture and keepsakes, photographs and other belongings. Similarly, the sale poster of 1873 allows us to recreate the substantial family home of a mid-Victorian small-town family doctor, though it takes a good dictionary to help understand now what everything was - from stump beds to salamanders.