KENT, William (-d.1632), of Dinton, Wilts.; later of Durrington and Boscombe House, East Boscombe, Wilts.
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Family and Education
1st s. of Thomas Kent of Dinton and Elizabeth. m. by 1604, 1s. suc. fa. 1607. d. 21 Dec. 1632.1 sig. William Kent.
Burgess, Devizes, Mar. 1614, member of the Twelve, Sept. 1614-d.;2 estate commr. Wilts. for William Herbert, 3rd earl of Pembroke by 1616-30, for Philip Herbert*, 4th earl of Pembroke 1630-d.; steward, Wylye manor, Wilts. by Sept. 1632-d.3
Kent was the son of a minor gentleman farmer, Thomas Kent, who, in 1567, was leasing half a dozen acres on the south Wiltshire manor of Chilmark from the 1st earl of Pembroke.4 Thomas subsequently moved to Dinton, another Pembroke-owned manor in south Wiltshire, where he became the neighbour of Henry Hyde†, father of Edward Hyde†, earl of Clarendon.5 Kent himself subsequently became one of the estate officers to the earls of Pembroke, responsible for managing the leases of some of their Wiltshire properties.
Prior to his election there in March 1614, Kent’s association with Devizes, a borough that usually returned townsmen or prominent local gentry, is uncertain. He does not appear to have owned property there, nor was he recorded as having contributed to local rates.6 Possibly he was related to the borough’s town clerk, John Kent. He may also have been well acquainted with Robert Drewe*, a longstanding Devizes’ councillor. In February 1632 Kent and Drewe acted jointly as commissioners for the estates of the 4th earl of Pembroke, and Drewe was, by that date, an officer of the earl of Hertford, whose Wiltshire lands lay intermingled with those of Pembroke’s. Whatever the precise nature of his connection with the town may have been, Kent was sworn in as a burgess by the Devizes’ corporation on the same day as his election.7 He is unmentioned in the records of the Addled Parliament and the corporation made no payments towards his expenses at Westminster, as it often did for its Members.
Shortly after the dissolution, in September 1614, Kent became a member of Devizes’ corporation. By 1628 he had moved to Durrington, 15 miles north-east of Dinton, where he had taken a lease on the parsonage.8 The profits of his estate at this time were considerable, for although his lands were rated for the subsidy at only £10 p.a., in the same year he paid £2,500 for the manor of East Boscombe. Shortly afterwards he bought a further 178 acres in West Boscombe, a parcel of the manor separated from the main estate by the River Bourne.9 His interest in this manor may have resulted from the 1628 marriage of his niece to Simon Clifford, whose family had lived at Boscombe House since the Reformation.
Kent continued to be concerned with the Pembroke estate affairs until shortly before his death - he helped survey a portion of the 4th earl’s Wiltshire properties in February 1632, and in the following September was referred to as steward of Wylye manor.10 He made out his will early in November 1632, ‘being sick in body’. His wife, who is unmentioned, had evidently predeceased him. Ten pounds was to be divided between the poor of Boscombe, Allington and Newton Tony, while bequests of £168 were made to various relatives and servants. Kent also left an annuity of £40 to his nephew, then a student at Oxford. A valuation of his Boscombe estate, which included 430 acres, 10 cottages and more than 800 sheep, together with £60 worth of clothes and £102 in cash, was prepared by his friends for the bishop’s court and estimated his net worth at £2,225 7s. 2d. It also included 335 acres and numerous messuages, gardens and orchards in Wilford, Manningford Bruce and Charlton, all in Wiltshire. These properties, with the remaining lease on Durrington parsonage, were left to his son, William, while Robert Drewe was named as overseer.11 Kent died on 21 Dec. and was buried in the chapel of Boscombe church five days later.12 His only son fought for the royalists during the Civil War, and was fined £572 by the Wiltshire committee for compounding. Kent’s younger brother Robert was also a royalist, and was executed after returning from exile in France, while a nephew, Richard Kent, later a sub-dean of Salisbury, was removed from his living at Fisherton Anger in 1647.13 Another nephew, also named Richard, represented Chippenham in James II’s Parliament, replacing Sharington Talbot, who was killed in a duel.
Ref Volumes: 1604-1629
Authors: Henry Lancaster / Andrew Thrush
- 1. Wilts. N and Q, vii. 230; Wilts. RO, archdeacon of Sarum wills.
- 2. Wilts. RO, G20/1/16, ff. 272, 275; G20/1/17, f. 95.
- 3. Surveys of the Manors of Philip, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery 1631-2 ed. E. Kerridge (Wilts. Rec. Soc. ix), 1, 84-5, 138; CSP Dom. 1631-3, p. 463.
- 4. Survey of the lands of William, 1st Earl of Pembroke ed. C.R. Straton (Roxburghe Club), i. 123.
- 5. Wilts. Arch. Mag. liv. 394.
- 6. Wilts. RO, G20/1/17, ff. 4v, 36.
- 7. Wilts. RO, G20/1/16, f. 272.
- 8. E179/199/398; Wilts. RO, archdeacon of Sarum wills (will of William Kent).
- 9. VCH Wilts. xv. 57; Wilts. RO, 1369, Clifford to Kent, deed, 1628; PROB 11/182, f. 269; R.C. Hoare, Hist. Wilts. ‘Amesbury Hundred’, 113, 115.
- 10. Surveys of the Manors of Philip, 1st Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery 1631-2, pp. 1, 138.
- 11. Wilts. RO, Archdeacon of Sarum wills, bk. 10, f. 1; Wilts. Farming in Seventeenth Cent. ed. J. Bettey (Wilts. Rec. Soc. lvii), 103; C142/496/117.
- 12. Wilts. RO, bps’ transcripts, Boscombe, bdle. 1.
- 13. CCAM, 983-4; CCC, 77, 995; Wilts. Arch. Mag. xxiv. 95-6; xxvi. 377-8; Wilts. N and Q, vii. 229; A.G. Matthews, Walker Revised, 375; Fasti Ecclesiae Sarisberiensis comp. W.H. Jones, ii. 375, 401, 439.