The Pursuit of Gentility

 Gent Family Papers 1786-1840

from the marriage of John Gent & Sarah Booth

to the death of John Gent

Part Four

• Mr Henry Gent




Strand June 25th 1829


Dear Sir,

It was with unfeigned pleasure I perused a letter from you after so long an absence to find it left you in good health after enduring so great privations and laborious journeyings through a part of the immense and trackless country of America which must have afforded much information and to susceptibility a commiserating disposition, but very sorry I am to hear of the extreme illness of your own dear Mother and your being unsettled, which I am sorry to say the stagnant state of trade in the metropolis have rendered many very many unsettled and unpleasant.

Your condescencion in asking my advice if there's a probability of success by coming to London my reply his by the great complaints I hear and the verification I have to the correctness of the reports to advise not.

My own business continues in an unfinished state which renders me uncomfortable in mind which have added to my illness I have been labouring under since the flagrant and great robbery was effected on my property which have been a severe loss to me and seriously narrowed my circumstances which renders every pound now acceptable. I am surprized I have received no communication from Brian his neglect I cannot account for. Be so obliging to make me a remittance for the surgical instruments, the interest for which I leave to your own generosity. I should have written before but was prevented by illness wishing this may find your mother and sisters in good health Mrs Huskisson with myself joins in love to each shall be glad to hear from you at an early date with some communication from Brian.

I remain

Dear Sir

Your sincere Friend

Elizth Grimaldi

• [C. H.

11 No 1829




No 13



Henry Gent Esqr


near Macclesfield




431 Strand Novr 11th /29


Dear Sir

Yours of the 19th came safe to hand enclosing fifteen pounds for which Mrs Grimaldi return you her thanks.

The long absence in not answering your letter has been from making enquiries and writing for answers to the obtaining a situation for you but hitherto she is sorry to say without success, but in London there's a more cheering prospect than the country and it appearing to be your wish to be fixed in town. Mrs G. thinks it might be to your interest in coming and making personal application for a situation. She continues in her old habitation but for how long or short the Commissioners of his Majesty's Woods and Forests will suffer her to abide she cannot say but this she informs you there shall be a comfortable lodging for you while she continues in castle Court for which she has reduced it to eight shillings a week She felt pleasure in hearing yourself with family were in good health to whom with yourself Mrs Grimaldi and daughter send their best regards.


Dear Sir

Yours respectfully

for Mrs Elizabeth Grimaldi

J. Richards

P. S. Mrs Grimaldi health I am happy to say is much improved.

• [1/2 1/3

Liverpool Ship Letter]


Doct. Henry Gent





3rd Mo 1st 1830


Before this reaches 'Albion's fair Isle', thou wilt think the time long since I wrote, or since thy last received an answer. It is a long time, but every day of it, has been fully occupied by thy friend L. P. Mott. The fall had its thousand cares preparatory to winter and the sterner season has found me equally busy. Arthur's business call'd him so continually to the furnace and consequently left me so much alone at the cottage that we decided on putting Daley's family in the kitchen, and locking up the rest of the house for the winter. As soon as these arrangements were made, I took my departure in the stage for Hamburg, and left my dear boys boarding at Ansel's and C. Lawrence's - but I must tell thee, that before I left, the partnership between A. and A, was amicably dissolved by mutual consent - Ansel buying Arthur out, as it is called. How the business will terminate as to profit, they do not yet know, but Arthur is clear of loss, and much relieved by the change. After spending some time to the west, I returned as far as Canandaigua and made a long stay with my niece Eliz'th Brewster (late Mott of N. Y.) taking charge of her first born treasure, acting as mother for her. Andrew U. Mott has been with us all winter, and waited on me to meetings and visiting round Farmington. Wm S, Burling now lives in Farmington, the Spring Mills being offered for sale on the mortgage to Wm Rotch of New Bedford. His girls are still unmarried. Who thou knows at Farmington I am at a loss to recollect, except R. T. Field - I took tea there once and found everything as neat as formerly, and an elegant teatable set, maria looking young as ever, but lonely. Poor Richard sees but little of his mother, since the change in her sentiments. Speaking of them reminds me of H. Howland, who appears to be fast declining, under severe dispepsia, so as to keep his room, and live on rye pudding; every other kind of food distressing him, and being thrown off. Mary Anne Fisher, who lives where Jesse Field used to, is also very sick, not expected to recover. Henry has repaired up the place and improved it greatly, but if left with two motherless boys, its charms will all be tarnished. Our other friends round Scipio are generally in good health. Martha Pelham (Anna Coffin's daughter) was married two months since to a young lawyer in Aurora. Nathan Cornstock, who courted Rebecca Bunker, died of a fever, quite unexpected, just as he had moved into a large new brick house, that he had built - it was well for Rebecca that she escaped being married for his children would not have shared the estate with her willingly. J. Merritt's, and Jas Wood's girls are still single - tho' reports say that one of the Woods is to be married to young Dennis. Jethro Wood's family have all been sick at Montezuma, and have concluded to move back to Scipio - Foot's family excepted. Daniel Cock and his Jane are well and happy enough with their little Charles Henry - the latter part of the name, I presume thou may'st take as a compliment. Jane's father called on me in company with A. Cory as they were going to an Indian council at Buffalo - the great chief, Red Jacket, died two weeks before they came on, greatly to their disappointment. As I travelled from hamburg I called to see the great man, he was then sick but able to speak with Indian eloquence, and the fire of his keen eye kindled as he spoke!

Another Chieftain, of a far different character, may be gone ere thy hand receives this, if reports be true; for a late paper stated, that 'the venerable E. Hicks was seized with an apoplexy, and not expected to recover'. So many false rumours are spread in these sad days, that I can but cherish a hope that this is unfounded; still melancholy forebodings will arise - where is his equal? surely not on this side of the Atlantic - and on yours I doubt none can vie with him! All winter he has been preaching more powerfully in and about Long Island, convincing many who have been opposed to him, and giving general satisfaction. What are the reports concerning hi in England? Is there any excitement on the subject of religion with you, or dare none say bo under King George's sceptre.

Thy last I duly received, and as respects Dr Siviter, Arthur said I had better not say anything to him. He thinks that thy money is safe in that lot and house, and that it is not best to make any change. Auburn continues to improve and enlarge. The old bridge thou rememberst was very poor, and I can tell thee that it has been built of stone twice, a single arch, and each time did not last a month after costing $6000 - and after all, six hundred to get the stones and rubbish out of the pit, leaving the chasm open all winter, and no bridge! Ambrose was one of the committee and is mortified enough, for they were offered by the mason who built the aqueduct at Rochester, to do it for $4000 and warrant it. A penny saved is a pound lost, sometimes. The citizens complain of the taxes being so heavy.

Since I came away, Blanchard Forgate sent me a paper containing an obituary notice of our worthy friend Dr Bela Forgate after a short illness. Auburn does not contain a more philanthropic character, or a more estimable domestic one, than he was. Walter continues as partner with Dr Pitney, and will, I hope be able to assist his mother. Blanchard will probably continue the business.

Dost thou remember having charge of a parcel for Burnet's brother? well, the very man has been over on a visit, and told Charles that that little parcel of pamphlets cost £14 sterling by thy putting it in the mail. He laughed it off handsomely. When he went back he took a number of live squirrels of all colors that he could procure, and quantities of the small striped skins - the little farmer boys made quite a speculation out of him. I wonder he did not buy the skin of a large black bear that was shot in C. McKeel's [?] door-yard - he was a mighty fellow - that our George and all the Cuddlebacks chased for miles - where he came from no-one could imagine. So thou sees we do have rare occurrences sometimes at Skaneateles.

Me thought the strain of thy letter was rather low spirited or thou wouldst not have thought that an apple and crust of bread in America was preferable to old madeira in the land of thy nativity. If that Tenure lassie dwells on thy imagination, do entrust me with a message to her, and if but, I will undertake, at thy command, to ship her by packet to thee; for I am acquainted with her - but then she is not one of us, how will that do? Art thou not still half a Quaker? She is a sensible, smart girl, and will not disgrace her country, let her go where she might. Arthur has bought that little place that young Jacob Cuddleback occupied. near the school, and intends daily to live there and work the farm. What he will embark on next I do not know. Nor can I tell thee anything of Caleb's movements, since leaving home. S. M. Van Epps has had a narrow escape with life, at the birth of an heir, remaining speechless two days - the child did not live. Ann Underhill spent the winter with her, leaving Hannah and poor sick John Gifford to keep house with Abraham. T. J. Alsop and wife were out here visiting us and W. Burling's family - then their pretty daughter Martha was well and as rosy as ever - dear uncle John very comfortable enjoying the retirement of his snug little room, in humble expectations of a summons to a still happier state, when the welcome will be 'Come thou blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for thee'.

I was pleased to find that thou hadst been to friends' meeting, and met with one cordial invitation, when thou writes do tell me what conversation you hold together, and what kind of preaching - whether it resembles in the least the ardent declarations poured forth by our honest Adin. I delivered thy message to him 'and other friends of the same faith with him' which was apparently received with pleasure, and returns of good feeling manifested.

W. Willets, R. Ford, S. Goyland, D. Arnold, J. Rattle's families all are just as they were, only that James has an English family in his house, who bought his farm - and J. R. is to move on to Sprague's place next month. J. Smith has sold to a friend Coffin lately from N. York and so has Dorrence and both together will make a good farm. Where old Johnny is going to I've not heard. Two more families, with nine children apiece, have moved within the compass of our meeting - and in fine weather the meeting house is filled. Many like to hear Adin - at North Street they are pleased to have J. Morey live near them and declare tremblingly the solemn truths of the gospel to them. B. Underwood continues to prosper in business, and Sarah tells us some good things oftener than formerly, and her life and conversation compare with her precepts which give weight to them. Isaac Post and J. Searing have grown richer of late, each having a son added to their old stock of treasures. Politics thou dost not expect from me - but may remark that Enos Thorp gives satisfaction as governor. His speech was good - perhaps thou read it if our papers got across the ocean. At Washington they are peaceable as yet, tho' a general is president. Erskine and his brother escaped the fever tho' tramping the swamps of Indiana and Michigan, till winter. Poor Helen sat as a widow, dull enough. Cordelia Stainbury has been at the grave's mouth with lumbar abcess - Dr Mott operated. Well I have tried to think of all the news for thee, having scribbled on my lap, while tending Elizabeth's baby, because information is what thou wants, not sentiment, that I shall leave to Susan Cox, tho' at the same time I wish thee to cultivate the most nobling energies of thy mind, and rise superior to the ills that beset thou placing thy hopes on things that are enduring - things that accompany salvation. I may have written the same that I mentioned in my last, for I cannot recollect all I have seen, let it only prove that thou art held in remembrance by thy old friend

L. P. M.

I am engaged in doing research on the Farmington, New York Underground Railroad, the Mott Family, the Comstocks, Cayuga County and Jethro Wood who were all mentioned in the following letter. This is like a pot pouri of historic gossip. One thing I would like to mention is that I discovered that the date for Red Jacket's death mentioned in the  letter dated 3rd Mo 1st 1836 was actually 1830. So that letter would be better dated as 1830, not 1836. (Easy to misread a disconnected 0 for a 6). This also fits better for the one Nathan Comstock (1776 to Sept. 28, 1829) of Rebecca Bunker's  age who's wife had died in 1826 who would seem a likely suitor for Rebecca Bunker (born 1788). This Nathan Comstock had a family association with the Motts as his daughter, Anna Maria Comstock, married James (& Lucretia) Mott's nephew, Gilbert Hicks Moore in November of1836.

History of Ontario Co, NY & Its People, Pub. 1911, Vol. I, pg. 31 

RED JACKET, so named because of the richly embroidered scarlet jacket which he affected, was born about 1759, either what is now Canoga on the west bank of Cayuga Lake, where a monument commemorating the event has been erected, or at a Seneca village which was located on the west side of Lake Keuka, as stoutly maintained by some writers.  He died at Seneca Village near Buffalo, January 20, 1830.  His Seneca Name, As-go-ye-wat-ha, being interpreted, means "He keeps them awake".  In earlier life he was noted for his swiftness of foot and was called "O-te-it-ani", meaning, "Always ready."  Was famed as a orator and participated in various Indian councils, including that held in Canandaigua in 1794.  Went on the war-path for the British cause in 1779 and in the struggle of 1812 took the American side, but in neither, gained fame as a warrior.  Wore with pride a large silver medal presented to him by President WASHINGTON at Philadelphia in 1793.  His remains now lie in Forest Lawn at Buffalo and above them stands a marble monument, which is surmounted by a bronze statue of "The Cicero of Indian Fame."

with thanks to Charles Lenhart

• Knutsford 10th May 1831


My Dear Mother,

In compliance with Mary's letter, I have waited upon Mr Hollins, and he told me last night that he had been served with a process, which I think upon the whole will be rather favourable to my Father, as his name was not comprised in it, and it may be the means of now bringing the affairs to a final settlement. Mary only says that Edward only sent for my Father, which gives me reason to believe he is overlooked, which is proper tho' rather partial.

I received the trunk and the trousers - the trousers fit me well - and the females at this house say they are of the right colour. I have been more busy than common, and have been out in the evening, so that I am no better. I should like to come for another week if I continue unwell. Electioneering is the chief topic here. Mr Wilbraham and Belgrave are the favourites here, and this town has made a stand for them that is supposed they durst not have done against Mr Egerton's party.

Mr Hollins will be obliged to attend to this, or they would take him up to London from his business and he might lose his office of coroner, that there is no fear for his own interest he will do what is necessary, and my Father may consider himself favoured that his name is not in the process, though he is not in the least to blame.

I will direct this letter to be left at Mr Yates's, and you may get it as soon as by post. Mary does not say how Nancy Booth is.

believe me to be, dear Mother, etc

H. G.

• [Ship Letter Liverpool


May 30

N. Y.



Henry Gent


Near Congleton




Auburn 5 Mth 1st 1831


My dear Friend

I a few days since was called on by Dr Leverton [?] informing me he had received a letter from L. B. Mott directing him to call on me and purchase thy mortgage against John Hall. I informed him that Hall had sold the property to Amos Underwood and he had a little before paid me up thy mortgage he said he did not wish to have anything to do with the money I told him I had made use of the money and had rather not pay it this year I called on L. B. she thought I had better not make any calculations to pay it this spring. Now if thou can let it lay for the present I should be glad I will pay the interest as thou will direct and pay the principle when thou shalt say after this year Lydia informed me thou had got into a good practice which I was glad to hear. I little thought when we parted I should not have written thee before this time but have been waiting to hear from thee but have received no letter from thee which is as different from what I expected. I hope our friendship for each other has not abated I can say for me mine has not I often very often remember the many agreeable hours we have spent together. We last winter met with a great loss in our family. O how we wished for our dear friend Dr Gent, all our children except Daniel and little William had the scarlet fever our dear little Frances who I presume thou wilt remember and our youngest child Solomon about a year old also an interesting […]ic we lost within three days of each other Daniel and Jane lost their little boy a little older than our youngest which was also a great loss to them as well as to us, but even more […]elling to say we thought we were much favoured in saving the rest of our children and adopt the language of one formerly the Lord gave and the Lord taketh away and Blessed be his name - I have but little news to write thee worth thy attention I presume thou hast heard of the parlour of Caleb Michael [?] he is about opening a school in Sackets old house how he will succeed is yet to be determined.

Arthur still remains single he is about building a house in Auburn about […] Doctor Burts Arthur is growing very fast […] Stay Stores on the east side of the creek and eight to the west of […] Street besides a great number of very noble houses in different parts of the village. I have purchased all the north side of Grover [?] Street from Fosgates to South Street ten lots and have built one house the other lots I know hold for sale Since thou left the presbyterians have built a fine church in South Street next to Millers office the Baptists and Methodists are about building each another house the people in this place have become very religious they have meetings from daylight until twelve at night we meet with no increase in number in our society as yet we keep along about the same We last summer in seventh month had the very agreeable company of Ann and thy old friend Edward Stabler he stayed with us several days had a meeting in the apescopal church which was well attended and to good satisfaction to those who attended he was one of the most agreeable men I ever met with he spoke of thee and would have been glad to of seen thee. He has since gone from Works to rewards no doubt to receive the recompence of a well spent life the reward that lays at the end of the […] and this well […] he the care […] as all and happy thrice happy if prepared and then no matter how soon.

My dear Friend (I feel thee as such) I hope thou will write me on the receipt of this giving me an account of thy getting along and whether thou hast found a help mate We hope if wright to see thee again but if we never do our best wishes are for thee my […] and Mary and Harriet wills to be remembered to thee.

With much love I remain

Thy Friend

Ambrose C


Dr Henry Gent

• [Liverpool


Dervyton Vill

N. Y.]


Dr Henry Gent

Knutsford Cheshire



Dervyton Sixth month 20th 1832


Dear Henry

Thy letter by T. Bradbury he delivered in person to me the evening after his arrival, in the city of N. Y. greatly to my surprise. I was called downstairs to see a person that enquired for me, and on being addressed as aunty Lydia, the lamps being on the opposite side of the room, I told him he had the advantage of me, for I did not recollect him, on which he said 'not know Thomas Bradbury' and i was surprised enough, for I had not expected him to return so soon, and was not thinking of him - besides, he was so fat, as to alter his looks materially. That evening it was late, and he staid but a few moments, at Robt Hicks, telling me he would come the next evening - but not keeping his engagement, and calling when I was in meeting (for it was Yearly meeting week) I did not see him before he left for Canandaigua, and of course have not seen him since, for I have just returned from N. Y., where I went in my own new carriage, with only Liva Peck's son for a driver, taking my brunette Mary to a place to work for her schooling. This I mention because I remember the love thou bore to her and know that thou will rejoice that I am released from the trouble and care of her. My journey was prosperous - I called to see one friend after another on the way - and got to town soon enough to admit of my spending two days with sister Mary Stansbury before the Yearly Meeting commenced. She still teaches the deaf and dumb, but the Asylum is out of the city 3 miles, on Harlem road, in a very commanding site, and is a spacious elegant establishment. We took comfort together, in pleasing and solemn reminiscences, and passed and repassed to town in my wagon, with Jackson for coachman, as independently as any two single matrons need to do. Our Yearly meeting was astonishingly large, and interesting too - while the other which was held at the same time, was diminished since last year, and not harmonious, as themselves allow. Thus the prediction they made respecting us, that we should dwindle and be scattered, seems fulfilling on themselves - agreeably to that scripture, 'in the pit that they digged, is their own foot taken'.

John Jewitt and Susanna from Baltimore were with us and others who all miss dear E. Stabler very much, and another champion who has not left his fellow in our society - Thomas Wetherald. Such mighty minds as Hicks, Stabler and Wetherald are not often contemporary in our society, all advocates for free enquiry not wishing to bind their fellow men, to any dogma of theirs. We miss them exceedingly, but the great head of the Church knows best what we need, and will give such aid as is best suited to our condition - and all that remains for us, is to do our duty faithfully, when all things will work together for good. Ah, my good doctor - this is what I wish for thee, then thy light will shine, it has shined here, thy good deeds are had in remembrance, and thy humanity to the needy. heed not what others say or think, do thou follow those inward pointings those gentle reproofs which are the way to life - even life eternal - began to be enjoyed here, and to progress forever! Nothing else is worth living for, and this is worth all we can sacrifice to obtain it. I found dear Arthur well on my return, and glad enough to see his old mother again, after a lonely 4 weeks. He shows no signs of bettering his condition, is as busy as if he had a flock of children to provide for. He stands fair in the estimation of the public, being continually applied to for some arbitration or other - judgment on lands etc etc etc

Thy fair friend, Helen, has lately buried her mother; and on my enquiring about the family, I found that which has caused me to feel thankful on thy account, that thou escaped being tied to her for life - for she proved cruel and unfeeling to her sick, aged mother, so much so, as to quite make a talk. My hope is, that when thou does take a rib, it may be one that will be a real solace to the cares and anxieties of life. While on the subject of matrimony, I must tell thee that little Jennet Mott is to be married soon to a fine fellow in Utica; where she found him, or he found her, while at school, learning to play on the piano. Smith Mott married one of Caleb's scholars and has now a little son - Susan and the other children keep house together. C. Mekul [?] resides in Vernon village, near Sarah Van Epps - and has a large day school kept in the Masonic lodge, all in style, and has better prospects as to a living than he had before. Maria Bishop after being positively engaged to him, and preparations going on for their marriage, suddenly married a presbyterian journeyman working at her father's - a widower by no means agreeable!! strange to all her friends does such conduct appear, and much to her degradation. Poor Caleb was mortified to be so duped after three years siege, but now concludes it was a happy escape. Little Hannah Underhill, who first married Charles Gifford's son John has since married Noah Dennis, Wilbur's son, a widower.

And now for business; I attended to thy request respecting thy money with Ambrose, and he says that three hundred shall be sent on the first of next month, or as soon after as it can be, for it is to be paid into him at that time, the rest the person is not prepared to pay till the fall, if I recollect rightly. He said he should have remitted it before, but money has been unusually scarce, and he did not suppose thou wished to crowd anyone. So I let the matter rest, telling him he must be punctual, and I do believe he will be, according to his word. Daniel and Jane live very prettily and happily.

As to this money of thine, I am a petitioner on behalf of the poor children. I applied what thou told Ambrose to pay to me several years ago, to schooling […], and now I want thee to bestow one year's interest for the same benevolent purpose. I have two schools agoing for the benefit of such, and the good effects are very apparent. Two of my resources are like springs dried up. Jeremiah Thompson, having failed to a vast amount, can no longer give, and another friend in the city, who used to send me a donation occasionally, has become under difficulties, and I miss their kind aid - if it seems pleasant to thee to bestow thy mite, I will apply it faithfully for the benefit of such as cannot help their lovely offspring to good learning without exposing them to the contamination of a common district school. Rachel Dean, the doctor's lovely wife, in Hamburg, where I once wished thee to go, while he attended lectures, she has the supervision of one of the schools near her. The doctor has not been able to find leisure to have the benefit of medical lectures yet, his practice being so extensive - but he has a student, a brother in law, who will I hope soon be fit to take his place and release him long enough for them, his talents being excellent, I wish him to have every improvement that he can obtain. When I hear of a new medical work of high character, I send it to him, for I think a good physician is as needful (yes more wanted) back in the interior, than in our cities where so many reside. Dr Hosack of N. Y. has married a widow whose […] 20,000 dollars, and h[…] now a summer residence on the North river, superior in elegance to that of many a Prince. But after all, Henry, peace of mind is the greatest wealth - the pearl of great price - let thou and I seek for this, 'more than for the encrease of corn, wine or oil'.

Oh I must not omit telling thee, that we despised Hicksites as some brand us, are encreased so greatly, that there is to be be a New yearly Meeting opened at Farmington next year.

When thou sees Ann Jones again thou may inform her that I visited Hannah Backhouse, and was much pleased with the interview, she was well, and appeared composed, as to parting with her husband. She is the only English woman in this land as a preacher.

Our weather has been cold and damp, corn and other crops looking small, it now begins to be a little more like summer, and as we have never had a famine, we hope for plenty yet, things alter quickly, when it becomes warm. Col. Livingston's place is now occupied by a N. Yorker. Adele is settled in great elegance in the city. Julia has returned from the West Indies, her husband's health much restored, but his lungs will not admit of his preaching again - so what he will resort to I know not, for he was an Auburn seminary boy, and never has learned other business. The Col. will settle in Albany next fall, so as to keep his office, which he would lose if he went to N. Y. and $1500 a year is not to be picked up every day. Little Mary has gone to school to New Haven, and her parents are lonely. Nicholas Thorn died last month, and all his effects have passed under the hammer to satisfy his creditors. Zaid continues to go with the presbyterians. Little Charley Burnet has gone into partnership with William Gibbs. Maria G. has a white swelling on her knee. C. D. Lawrence has lost a little infant named Arthur Mott - no other changes that I recollect.

I have written this, in the midst of conversation addressed to me it being Quarterly meeting day at Dennyter [?], the only hour I have been able to devote to thee since my return home, and when I get back from here I expect my niece and her new husband from Washington, Erskine's sister Emma - and after them Eliza Clark and her two little boys, from Albany, to spend some weeks - and then sister Mary will have a vacation and she expects to come on a visit, that my time will be fully engrossed. Do remember me to thy Mother and sister, and believe that all the waves of the Atlantic cannot obliterate thee from the sincere remembrance of thy friend,

L. P. Mott


¶ "The Motts: Lydia, and Abigale Two people, of whom little is known but who played an important part in Albany's underground railroad effort, are Lydia, and Abigale Mott. They seem to have been cousins of the more famous Lucretia, but their importance for Albany is greater as far as local efforts are concerned. From gleanings we have been able to find through an 1828 Quaker family census we know that the Motts were Quakers from western Albany County, and lived in the town of Berne. Their father, John Mott, was a respected leader and powerful preacher among the Friends and was involved in the Quaker meeting of Rensselaerville (according to a brief history of the Quaker Street meeting house by Marjorie Hoag Phillips, available from the Quaker Street Friends). What they did in western Albany County with the underground railroad we do not know specifically, but Phillips identifies that fugitives did find refuge in that area. The work of the sisters in connection with temperance meetings is also noted in Howell and Tunney's history of Albany. Lydia and Abigale are in Siebert's list of underground railroad operators as active in the Albany area. Unfortunately there is no other reference in Siebert regarding the Motts. Information has to be gathered from other sources. One such source is Charles Blockson's The Underground Railroad: First Person Narratives of Escapes to Freedom in the North. This book, published in 1987, collects short writings from primary sources which tell stories about fugitive escapes from slavery. One account is that of Austin Bearse. Mr. Bearse was a native of Massachusetts and a commercial sailor. Sometimes the boats he worked on were involved in shipping in the south and sometimes slaves. The treatment of slaves was revolting to him but he said little of it until after 1834 when he began reading the Liberator. In July 1847 he sailed with a ship for Albany, New York. He says: "On my arrival there [in Albany], I called upon the Mott sisters, ladies well known to the anti-slavery friends in Boston and elsewhere. Miss Mott told me they had a slave secreted just out of the city, who was in danger. His name was George Lewis. A writ was out for him, and she wished me to take him to Boston. As soon as I was ready to sail , she brought him to my vessel at night, with his baggage, and I stowed him away. In three days I passed New York, and on getting into Long Island Sound, I told George Lewis he could safely show himself on deck, which he was glad to do." This story of the active work of the Mott sisters, though we don't know which of the two is being referred to here, is one of the few references we have been able to find in our readings. We are sure there is more to be told and we are busy trying to search out such information. From this passage we can see that the Mott in question was taking a clear and active role in hiding, assisting, and arranging safe passage for fugitives. "

There is an account of Lydia Mott and her girls' school om Norman Leslie's 'History of Skaneateles'.

I recently purchased a booklet written by Lydia Mott describing the deaths of her husband and daughter. I have placed a copy of it here.

• [Liverpool

Ship Letter]


Dr Henry Gent

Knutsford, Cheshire



Lake Cottage 8 Mo. 4th 1832


"Procrastination is indeed the Thief of time' - it is nearly a month since I fully intended writing to thee, my friend Henry - on the money business, in part, to oblige A. Cock who says I must tell thee that he thinks if thou canst any how do without the principal, it would be to thy interest decidedly - for the man has built handsomely on the lot and offers a new mortgage at 7 per cent, to pay it as thou mayest direct. At present the exchange is against thee, and money so scarce that it would injure the man to force him to give it at this pinching time. Money was scarce before the derangement of business by the cholera and our wise President's veto on the U. S. Bank, has increased the difficulties in the money market (the men say) Aubron [?] says, if thou says the bills of exchange must be purchased, they shall be at once. So please speak thy wishes, speak thy will, swift obedience meets them still. This dreadful scourge of pestilence strikes dread into the stoutest hearts - hitherto it has not come nearer to us than Syracuse, and but few cases there. Simeon West, from Onondaga [?], was here last week, and told me that little Sarah West, his niece, who married a clergyman and went to N. York, had a child 2 1/2 years old that had the summer complaint with teething, and all of a sudden it changed too cholera and died the same afternoon at 4 o' clock, and Sarah was much agitated, took the cholera and died at seven that same evening, and her inconsolable husband was immediately seized, and expired at 12 o' clock that night; leaving an infant 8 months old, without a relative to care for it; and that its grandmother, who is now a widow (Reuben West having died last spring) was too much afraid of the complaint to go to the city to look after the babe, and all Sarah's nice things, which are left to the mercy of strangers at this solemn period.

A late letter from my sister Mary Stansbury, says that she saw 93 interments in the Potters field in one day, between breakfast and teatime, and they bury any time of night too. The field is adjoining the premises belonging to the asylum for dumb and they keep a trench open continually in which the coffins are laid six deep before any earth is thrown in, to avoid expense. And on the north of the asylum, the Roman Catholics have just such another cemetery, in which a similar trench is kept open in the same exposing manner. Such things ought not so to be and I see in the Spectator the subject is brought before the public for reform - sister continues with the mutes yet, and all ever healthy to last week, she writes. She does not go into the city, but patiently stays in the asylum waiting divine disposal - observing strict temperance.

I see how miserably I am writing, but it is with the pen the wrong side up - for Arthur is from home and has the only knife between us, in his pocket. He is as busy as a bee, at Motts Ville, superintending the harvest on Mabbetts Farm where he has 60 acres of wheat to see to. The season though too dry at first, has proved favorable of late, and grain looks finely, the harvest having been clear weather. Further westward the drought has injured the crops. Adin Covey came from Cataragus last week, and things were dried up, not half a crop generally and in some places not a quarter. he has undertaken to help the Cataragus tribe who continue peaceable, and are very desirous of gaining a knowledge of husbandry, blacksmith and shoemaking business, and of having a good school. Adin don't like his family - he has built a small house on his place here, and they live quite snugly. His Mary looks rather Indianny yet, tho' a woman for sure, and not deficient in intellect. there is a family of friends moved into Foot's home not far from A. T. Cony's where there are some fine girls - one is a poetess they tell me. And where Star lived, a family of friends have bought (Stephen Thorne's present wife's relations) and a brother- in-law of Titus Haights has moved in near there too. So thou sees our numbers increase and we find they do, which makes us talk of enlarging our meeting house. Oh how I wish thou couldst have heard Adin today, with melting power. The path of the just man grows brighter and brighter to the perfect day. Oh that my kind, attentive friend may witness this in thy own blessed experience. be faithful to every duty, and be sure do not neglect public worship - it is an acknowledgement we all owe to our gracious preserver. After Adin spoke the last word, a man back in the meeting, cried out Amen!!

Benjamin and Sarah Underwood are almost blind with sore eyes. Did I tell thee, that they have a young son, after six daughters! and a great pet it is. They sold their little possession last month to an English man, to a handsome advance, but have not decided where they shall move to. Charles D. Lawrence also has sold his farm after improving it greatly, and he got 4300 dollars, and talks of Michigan. I however

do not yet believe he will forgo all the comforts of an improved country and the society of his old friends, and try the solitary woods - if he does go, he will have the hypo [?] most dreadfully. Anne don't like the notion at all. She makes a fine woman, and like Selkirk values 'Society, Friendship and love, divinely bestowed upon Man'. and Charles too, would sigh for their enjoyment, after it was too late, I fear, were he to try the wilderness, for he has sensibility, and some refinement.

Some Philadelphia preachers were in Jos'h Tallcots the other day, and I did want to see them, but could not, without intruding. Oh this accursed division!

I went to our last yearly meeting, and enjoyed it very much. Frequently in passing the streets I would stop and offer my hand to my opposing brethren and sisters and chat away as fast as I could about our mutual friends, to convince them that I felt no bar to sociability - I told some of the old leaders of that party that I did not like our going different ways to meeting and would cheerfully add 'come do turn about, and let us all go one way as we used to do'. They would shake their heads and pass on to Henry Street house. 'Tis a wicked thing, when we used to be 'like kindred drops, that melted into one'. Here we feel nothing of its evil influence for poor Stephen Newall is the only solitary being that passes by here to their meeting - and he acknowledges he has been deceived. A propos his eldest daughter has laid sick several months, and not a single friend from J. Tollent's meeting has been near them to see to her - while on the contrary our folks have been again and again, and carried such trifles as she wished for. She appears to be gradually failing. Bevier and Baker have attended her.

Caroline Stansbury (now Kirklands) mother, sister Betty, and her son Samuel a young lawyer are now in London, and will be some months, if thou goes to the City, thou canst hear of them at Parson Isaac's an independent preacher who has lately had a new chapel built, the directory will say where he lives - they attend to a lawsuit about my grandfather's estate, to which sister's elderly son (Joseph) is heir by entail, and there is a file [?] claim made. T. U. Bradbury is hard at work, with his property, he's commenced coach and sleigh making on Hall's plan.

One word more about that money, if my opinion is worth thy notice - it is this - let it lie under mortgage and I will collect the interest every 6 months and place on interest, thus it will be compounding, which is the surest increase, and make a clever sum against a rainy day - but do as suits thy own judgement, and I will faithfully comply with thy orders. Isaac Sherwood keeps tavern in his old house and perry keeps at the corner, the old stand is to be pulled down. All is change, except the friendship and attachment of thy foster Mother.

• Parsonage Meerbrook

Nov 20th 1832


My dear Miss Gent,

Mr Turner and myself are much obliged to you for the apples and pears you were so good to send us by Ryley a few weeks ago. We often talk of you tho' we have not had much communication lately. I quite believed you could not leave home in Summer on account of your Mother's superintending the dairy or we should have asked you during the fine weather as Meerbrook is not very tempting in winter, but hope as the spring advances you will come and pay us a visit. We shall have done with pupils and our home will be more our own. Mr Turner's family are all gone to Endon and a beautiful situation indeed they have, we have been over to spend a couple of night's with them; they are all well. We saw your father pass our house one day and concluded he would call either to or from Middlehulme, but no. Pray remember us kindly to your Mother and him and believe me to remain

Yours sincerely,

Eliz. Turner

• [Liverpool

Ship Letter]


Dr Henry Gent

Knutsford Cheshire



Auburn 5 Mo 20th 1835


Esteemed Friend,

I received thy letter of 8th of 3 Mo directing me to send thee the money th[…] requesting me to send and at last begging [?] of me to send thee thy money; this is the first letter I have received from thee requesting me to send thee thy money I was called on by Dr Leverton to know whether I would pay the money to him I told him I would as soon as I could collect it he very soon after called again and told me he had given up the idea of making any trade with thee since that Thomas Bradbury called on me and told me he had some prospect of trading with thee I told him the same story but he called no more about a year since Arthur Mott told me he had received a letter from thee requesting him to call on me and collect thy money and send to him at that time money was very scarce and next to impossible to collect I told Arthur I would collect it as soon as possible and thought to have got it in the fall or winter but did not succeed but still heard nothing from thee except through others until I received thy letter which I thought rather harsh and censuring me for not sending it before. I once wrote thee asking how thou would wish thy money remitted whether by a draft or by sending property to which I never received an answer I may acknowledge I think thou ought not censure me until thou wrote me I did expect we had confidence in each other and have not expected before that it was destroyed I paid to L. Mott $947 being the balance due thee for which she gave me a receipt. I have sold out my stock of goods and rented out both my stores have sold out the furnace and em employing my time in building two houses in Dill St where the old furnace stood property in that part of the village has risen very much and much improved and but few vacant lots unimproved from the prison through to Main Street Daniel is carrying on the comb business in the prison has 40 hand to work they manufacture about from 1500 to 2000 dollars worth per month. Henry is married and moved to or near Palmyra about 40 miles to the south west of Ithica we purchased about twelve hundred acres of pine timber land and built a saw mill he is now engaged in making lumber has about 15 men to work Andrew is also married [moved?] and settled in Williamson Wayne county about 12 miles north of Palmyra he is in trade Mary was married last fall she and her husband have settled in Williamson close by Andrews Henry's wife and Mary's husband are brother and sister son and daughter of William Thomas in Scipio John lives with Andrew the ret of the children live at home I have given thee a particular account of our oldest children they being the ones thou best remembers but I presume it can't be very interesting to thee no news which I think can be very interesting to thee political views I presume can't interest thee much we think the political excitement has nearly subsided We think Mr Vanheeren will be our next President I had rather it would be some other one but shan't trouble myself about it as for the religious struggles we think that is rather wearing off our orthodox friends are beginning to start for New York to attend their Yearly Meeting I presume thou has heard that Friends have a new Yearly Meeting established at Farington which comes in next month.

I hope Doctor thou wilt write me I am not willing to think thou intends to break off all kinds of friendship I have nothing laid up against thee I will remember the many pleasant days and years we spent together thou mentioned that thou occasionally went to Friends Meetings I should think thou could hardly give Friends entirely up or if some of our conduct has been so bad as to become stumbling blocks thou must remember the principle is the same as ever it was.

Pheln [?] wishes to be remembered to thee we are all well - thou mentioned of not being very well and thought sometimes going to this country perhaps to settle I am willing to say I think if thou think thou should come thou would find friends even among some of the old ones in pure love and respect I will […] the fare well and Remain as ever thy friend

Ambrose Cock


Dr Henry Gent


H. G. Mortgage against

John Hall par $600

& an. par 100


dated 3 Mo 14th 1829

Interest for 6 years 2 1/4 months 303.18



My a/c cash paid for recording Mortgages and power of attorney 6.50

Cash paid Arthur Mott 6.52

Cash paid John Wood 2.50

Cash paid L. P. Mott 40.00

Cash paid for Clearing Mortgages .66


Balance due H. Gent $947.00

which L. P. Mott gave me a receipt for

• [Liverpool ship letter 2/6]


Dr Henry Gent





New York

6 mo 15 1835


To Dr Henry Gent

Lydia P. Mott forwarded to me a few days since $938-96 being money she received for thee from Ambrose Cock requesting me to transmit the same to thee; I therefore enclose to thee the within draft for £193.6.6 being the first of a set of exchange drawn by John Ward & Co on Thomas Wilson & Co of London dated this day payable sixty days after sight for which I paid a premium of 9 1/4 per cent that being the lowest rate of exchange.

from thy frd

Richd Mott Jr

• [Auburn N. Y. May 31

Paid Liverpool Ship Letter]


Henry Gent M. D.




Auburn 6 Mo 1st 1836


Dear Doctor,

It was with extreme pleasure that some week since I hailed a remembrance from my old friend, for although seas divide us, still that feeling of friendship remains burning as when first created and a token occasionally received keeps the flame like that of the Vestal Virgins constantly replenished. Many times, in my silent musings, have I brought thy form (almost to tangibility) to my presence and once more, acted o'er those scenes, in which we were partners; and even after the illusion was gone, memory would fondly trace many acts and expressions that passed in those hours of enjoyment, alas, ne'er to return, for I have given up the hope of ever seeing thee in this country. Possibly, if not already, the time is not far distant when thou wilt find some blue eyed, bright haired being to help smooth the rough path of life and then American friends and scenes will be merged in one all absorbing feeling. As much as I value thy friendship I would freely give up the deep parts to know of thy being united to one exactly suited to thy fancy and deserving thy fondest care, and that there are such I have no question.

But to belay on sentimentality and get down from the clouds to the earth, I will relate some of the circumstances that have occurred in Friends' Society. After the separation, the Orthodox party made a demand of all the property belonging to the old Society which was refused by their opponents, but an offer made of dividing. They then commenced a suit in Chancery, which was ruled out of court and advice given by the Chancellor to settle the difference by arbitration, but they refused, their next step was to apply for an injunction to prevent Friends from using the house, until the matter at issue could be settled, but that was denied them, and the Chancellor gave his opinion that the property should be divided according to numbers, but that they would not accede to, preferring t go the whole hog or nothing, thus it rests and probably will remain, at least until a new Chancellor shall be appointed more Orthodox in his views. They seem more disposed to meet on friendly terms than they were at the first and not unlikely when the elder part have retired from this scene, the younger will effect an union with the heterodox brethren.

Unitarianism and liberal views are fast gaining ground in this country. The operations of the clergy have been so open for a few years past that many minds before shackled have burst their bands and dared to think and act for themselves. Aden T. Cory still boldly stands forth the champion of freedom in thought and action, defying priestcraft to mortal combat, but they know better than to encounter him with their flimsy buckler.

At this present time there is a very great pressure in the money market in the State and affecting some of the eastern and middle states, owing in a great measure to the unexampled tide of emigration to the far Western States, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin and settling beyond anything witnessed in former years, consequently there is a steady drain of cash from the older states, most of which gets lodged in the United States Treasury and is swelling our surplus revenue to an amount unexampled in the history of government and which already begins to be a bone of contention. If anything ever dismembered this government, it will be the immense revenues hoarded up from public use and becoming an object to tempt the cupidity of some would be patriot. Father, brothers Henry, Andrew and John and brothers in law Geo Thomas and Noble Geddings (sister Harriet was married two weeks since) intend starting for Michigan in a few days, brothers and brothers in law expect to remain there. I do not think Father will ever go there to reside.

We have wars and rumours of wars, and the end has not come yet. In Florida a war of extermination has been waged for the year past, but with little credit to the US troops. Texas has finally regained her liberty, from the last accounts Santa Ana was taken prisoner and his army destroyed, by Gen. Houston (of Tennessee). Whether Texas will become a part of the United States is not yet known. The Northern States are opposed to it fearing a balance of power to the South.

From late southern accounts we are likely to have trouble with the Creek Indians. A general rising is feared, hostilities have commenced and that injured nation seem disposed to wait no longer for the tardy justice of their pale faced brethren. That they have been egregiously imposed upon, no one but some designing politician or land jobber will deny. If in conjunction with the Indians the Negroes should raise the Southern States will be placed in a precarious situation, which is much to be feared. Efforts are being made for a general emancipation, but that is opposed by the South and many at the North and recommend colonization. A war of words is raging between the parties, but the emancipators seem to have the best of it, but still are far from effecting their object. Friends have sent several memorials to Congress on behalf of the Negroes but little has been done in that body towards relieving them. One a short time since sent from Philadelphia is highly spoken of for its mildness yet firmness.

Lydia P. Mott has been very unwell during the past winter, has spent most of her time in this place with her sister Stansbury at present she is at Cornelius Week's, Scipio. Arthur and Ansel frost are driving speculations ad infinitum.

The horse thou enquired after is in Brother Henry's possession and is a very fine one, worth from $100 to 125 dollars.

Thos Bradbury is extensively engaged in manufacturing carriages and as far as I have heard is doing well. he resides at Canandaigua.

The idea of Joseph Tallcott's being the first to start Temperance Societies in this country is erroneous. The Society at large have for years been a Temperance Society and other societies seeing the good effect of their practice, began to form associations. Shortly after the priests seeing it like to become a popular thing took hold of it and have carried it to that extent, that it has almost become a byword. No alterations of importance among our friends at Skaneateles. Chas Lawrence moved to Ohio and lost his wife. I have had a son born to me the last winter who we have called after his uncle Arthur Merritt, he is a fine boy and thou may naturally suppose we are very proud of him. Write as often as thou can, for thy letters are always very acceptable.

Thy friend most sincerely

Daniel F. Cock

Mister Jint is a man of amazing gentility;

He took lessons in taste from a chief of the Pawnees;

He then came to Cheshire to spread his ability

And squatted down here as the Prince of the Journies.


Nature made him an Ass, his Pa made him a Doctor;

And the two things united have formed an odd Mule;

Of thoughts in high Dutch he's a mighty concoctor,

But his speech is no more than the bray of a fool.


He's a beetle in brain, and a Dodo in gait;

With a coat that a Hottentot would not acknowledge;

And in riding or walking he looks so sedate;

As if just dubbed the chief of an Indian College.


To curse him more deeply than nature intended,

Some Imp in a dream whisper'd - "Jint be a wit:"

And some raving and slavering follow'd, which ended,

In the poor creature's faith in a poetic fit.


He star'd and look'd wild in contortions most awful;

And almost in agony spoke what he meant;

But his brain being barren he took steps unlawful,

And stole a stray thought that he could not invent.


After lab'ring for weeks in a furor divine,

Sad was the scene; the catastrophe just;

He brought forth a leaf that he call'd sibylline,

But the small stock of brain that he had went to dust.


And yonder he lies! A sad proof that a wit,

Can't be made of materials so gross - and alas!

Beneath are the lines that he wrote in his fit,

Oh read them and sigh! - they're the words of an Ass.

• Mr Gent




Ivy Cottage

June 26th 1838


My dear Mr Gent,

I am sorry to say my arm has not taken effect, the marks are only just visible, and all the inflammation has died away. So much for my arm. Georgiana's has taken effect, Mama says very well. Georgy says I must tell you it is the size of a halfpenny, and so it is, and it looks very much inflamed. Now what do you think about me being done again? If you think it advisable I will, but am in no hurry, and it will do when you come over to see Fanny. I am happy to tell you we expect her next Monday or Tuesday at the latest. I am not going to Liverpool to meet her, I think it is scarcely necessary, but I cannot tell you how delighted we shall all be to see her. Mama is thinking a good deal about her hay, and is expecting Mr Taylor this morning to advise her what to do. Dr Ardent called on Sunday evening, and he strongly advised her to sell it on the field, and not be troubled with haymaking etc and I am sure I wish she would for if the weather is unsettled, she will have a deal of trouble and expence with it. What do you think about it? Well Mr Gent how is your black eye? I assure you Mr Meek [?] has made several enquiries after it. He accompanied us to Mobberley and Robert has had the sulks ever since. We were again disappointed of a clergyman, I suppose owing to Mr Mallory's being from home. I was vexed at having the walk for nothing, and afterwards we walked to the Yew Tree, so I calculate that I walked 12 miles that day, and I assure you I was dreadfully tired at night. Miss Ottrell's [?] left on the evening of that day. There is nothing new in Knutsford, and the coronation is the only topic of conversation. There is to be a troop of cavalry out, and the Clubs and schoolchildren are to parade the streets, and no doubt sundry kinds of sport. Mr Clowes is at the head of it all. What think you about coming again to Knutsford? Look before you leap. If I were you I would wait a little and see how things turn out, but we shall see you before long. Mama and Georgy join me in love, and Believe me

My dear Mr Gent

Your sincere friend

E. Hollins

Do not forget Mama's dear love to your Mother when you see her. the Leyburns [?] mentioned you having called but nothing more.

• The funeral of my Grandfather John Gent, of Spen Green, 1840, at Astbury, was attended (see Aunt Mary Gent's papers) by Revd Bewshaw, Bullock, Leadbeater, Bull, J. Turner, D. Turner, Hollins, Wm Ball, Brian, Joseph and Henry Gent sons and Thomas Gent,brother.

• Copy of tomb in Astbury churchyard which belonged to Grandfather. he bought it with the Spen Green property, from the family who owned it, but did not sell the tomb with the farm, as my Father buried my two brothers in it in 1850.


Here lie the remains of

John Gent of Spen Green in

this parish Died Sep 22nd 1840 aged 78

Also Sarah Gent Wife of John Gent

Died Nov 15th 1843 aged 92

Brian Gent son of above Died Nov 15, 1844 Aged 52

Joseph Gent son of above Died Dec 23, 1860 Aged 69


There is also a John Wedgwood buried in the Tomb in 1774

• Page 118 No 236

Marriage solemnised in the Parish Church of St John, Manchester, in the County of Lancaster, in the Year 1847.

Henry Gent of the Parish Bachelor and Esther Warburton of this Parish Spinster were Married in this Church by Banns this twenty third day of March in the year One thousand Eight Hundred and Forty Seven by me Wm Huntington

This Marriage was solemnised between us, Henry Gent Esther Warburton in the presence of Wm Taylor An Taylor

The above is a faithful extract taken this 23 day of March 1847

Peter Hewitt Parish Clerk


Wm and Ann Taylor were mother's cousins. John Taylor the Brewer, Ancoats, and Mineral Water Manufacturer, was their son.

father and Mother must have given some address in the parish to qualify them as residents, but they both went from Knutsford to be married, Mother by coach to Altrincham and then by train and Father on horseback all the way, and went back home I believe the same day.

• My dear Mother's Parents and Family


Thomas Warburton born 1787 died April 8th 1861

Mary Warburton born 1800 died November 8th 1869 née Lea daughter of Joseph and Esther Lea of Withington near Congleton. Both buried at Astbury.

Edward died June 27th 1860

Thomas son of Thos and Mary born February 8th 1823

died Saffron Walden Essex aged 73 1st November 1896

Esther daugh. of Thos and Mary born May 21st 1826 at Kermincham died 13th February 1900 9.30pm aged 73 at 15 Greenhill Street

Joseph Lea Warburton born August 7th 1841 died Liverpool aged 53, October 1894



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