Jesse Kent

Author: Deirdre Duff
Date published: 11/01/2021


He was born on 26 November 1803 and baptised on 3 January 1804 at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel,  Northbrook Street.  His parents were Charles and Ann Kent.

On 28 October 1824 he married Sarah Twitchin at St. Nicolas Church.  She was the daughter of John and Jane (Salter)Twitchin. Her father was a grocer and tallow chandler in Newbury. 

Jesse Kent is listed in the 1839 Robson’s Directory as a china, glass and earthenware dealer in Hungerford and the 1841 census confirms he is trading in the High Street, West Side, Hungerford.   His wife Sarah is living with him together with Jane Ward, aged 9.  In July 1842,  the house occupied by Jesse Kent, and the neighbouring property occupied by a butcher, were up for auction. The houses are described as having “good gardens, stable, cart-house, slaughter-house, brew-houses and all conveniences”.

Sarah died in 1844 (3Q) and on 5 October 1846 he married again this time to Mary Pagler(sic), daughter of William Pagler (sic), in Thatcham.   The 1851 census states that she was born in Wiltshire.  Research has been unable to locate the surname Pagler in Wiltshire, but the surname Pegler proved fruitful.  A Mary Pegler was baptised in Christian Malford, Wiltshire on 20 January 1815, her parents were William and Ester Pegler.  In 1841 she was a dressmaker, aged 24, living on her own at Christian Malford. In addition when she became a widow after Jesse died, she married Peter Benwell, a shepherd, and the 1861 census states that she was born in Foxham, Wiltshire, a village very near to Christian Malford.

In the 1851 census, now aged 47, Jesse is still trading in Mills Yard , Newbury, as a china dealer.   Mary’s occupation is laundress and Mary Ann Taylor, aged 11,  born in Newbury, described as a daughter-in-law, is living with them.  Research  to date has not been able to establish the family relationship. At this period the term “in-law” was routinely used to signify a child who was the biological child of one partner only.

The next few years were a struggle.  His trade was not doing well: there were newspaper reports of drinking and illness.  From the inquest report following his death, Jesse and Mary had been living at the “Steamer” beer-house for a couple of years and then they moved to lodge at the New Inn in the Cattle Market.

On 20 December 1857 he went missing and tragically he was found drowned in the river Kennet the following day.  An inquest followed and  the jury immediately returned a verdict “That the deceased destroyed himself while labouring under a fit of temporary insanity.”

He was buried on 23 December 1857.

His widow Mary married Peter Benwell, a shepherd from Greenham, in 1858 (3Q).  She died aged 71 years on 31 May 1888 and she was buried in the Cemetery on 4 June 1888.  Refer to record under the name of Mary Benwell.


No Mrs. P. Code


Sources: Births and Christenings in England 1538-1975; Berkshire Marriages Index 28/10/1824 - 1st wife Sarah Twitchin;  Berkshire Marriage Index – John and Jane (Salter) Twitchin;  1839 Robson’s Directory; Death Index of Sarah Kent 3Q 1844; England Marriages Index  5/10/1846 - 2nd wife Mary Pegler; 1841/1851 census;  Death Index 1Q 1858.



Sources:as above

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