Issue A
April 2006
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The Gentrys of Essex and Suffolk Counties, England

A. The Family of John Gentry of Lindsell
B. Fragmentary Neighboring Gentry Families

Willard Gentry
Revised February 2015

For many years, Gentry family genealogists have attempted to identify some family in Great Britain, as being the source of a Nicholas and Samuel Gentry who emigrated to Virginia in the 17th century. This Nicholas was the founder of the line from which most Gentrys in the United States descend. Between 1978 and 1987 Mrs. Herbert R. Gentry obtained the assistance of correspondents in England to collect birth, marriage and burial records, records of wills and administration, and a limited number of other court records involving Gentrys that were dated in the 16th and 17th centuries. The correspondents were able to find a substantial number of such records, almost all confined to the counties of Essex and Suffolk. It is significant in understanding the very small area of England in which these references occur, that while additional Gentry references were found later in London, none were found in the adjoining county of Hertfordshire or other parts of England. As a brief reminder, what we are looking for is a Samuel Gentry (whose first Virginia reference was in 1674) who was born probably between 1648 and 1658. Secondly, we are looking for a Nicholas (whose first Virginia reference was in 1680) who was born probably between 1650 and 1664. We expect them to be brothers or possibly first cousins.

Our purpose is to eventually organize and interpret all of the data available from the Essex and Suffolk records for the period of time when Samuel and Nicholas lived. This will not only assist in the identification of these Gentry forebears but also provide an overview of the Gentry families living in post-Elizabethan England.. A series of articles, including this one, in the Journal of Gentry Genealogy have been published over a somewhat protacted periof of time with this goal in mind. They have turned out to be in some respects disjointed and duplicative in nature. The material as originally published is now being re-assembled in a more logical fashion. With this in mind, this present article has been reduced from its original scope and rewritten in places. Specifically, the article now concentrates only on the John Gentry of Lindsell family and fragmentary neighboring families that may well have been closely relaed to this family. Material formerly included in the article referring to the Gentrys of Bocking, other eastern Essex Gentrys and those living in Suffolk County has been relocated in later journal publications.

Mrs. Herbert Gentry's material was first published in "Gentry Family Gazette and Genealogy Exchange", [GFG&GE] vol vi, p.135 (May 1987)<1>. An earlier article in GFG&GE, vol 1, p.159-167 (Dec 1980) contained a transcription of the will of Simon Gentry of London (formerly of Kelvedon, Essex County). All of the known references to Gentrys between 1500 and 1700 found by Mrs. Herbert Gentry's correspondents are being republished, either in the source material at the end of this article, or with one of the following articles as most appropriate. The material has been consolidated and reorganized and has been used to construct sets of proposed families living in the county during that period of time. In addition to this earlier published data, the writer has obtained copies of some relevant wills written by early Gentry family members. More information has become available from parish registers that have been scanned by the Essex Record Office, images of which have been made available online to subscribers to their service<6a>. A somewhat parallel cooperative effort by volunteers to transcribe certain parish records into a comprehensive database and index them for free access has provided even more information<6b>. Unfortunately, at the present time only a very limited number of registers have been transcribed.

The locations in Essex County in which Gentry reference have been found, are divided for the most part into four major adjoining areas. One of these areas encompasses Great and Little Dunmow, Great Canfield, Great and Little Easton and Lindsell. We can include Thaxted in this area although it is involved only as the location for a marriage. Another, somewhat more wide-spread area includes Wethersfield, Bocking, Kelvedon and Witham. In each of these areas, there are accumulations of references that appear to involve close family groupings, particularly in Lindsell and in Bocking. A scattered number of references to Epping, South Weald, Heybridge and Widford form a third geographically separate area. Finally, there are Gentry references in a fourth area on or near the North Sea coast as well as across the county border in Suffolk County. These various locations are shown in the map displayed below.

Map of Essex County,
Map of Essex, England

A. The Gentrys of Essex County - Family of John Gentry

In this article we will be concentrating on a group of Gentrys residing for the most part in the westernmost parts of Essex. Using the fairly extensive parish register records along with court and other records, five generations of a family tree can be constructed starting with a John Gentry who lived in Lindsell. John, his wife, Agnes, and a son, Richard, all left wills that reveal relationships that give a good start to the family tree. The family records are not complete but are extensive enough so that the family relationships have a rather high degree of reliability. There are cases where presumed additional children have not been documented. In addition, where the dates of birth of children are not confirmed, the order of children may be in error in some cases. All locations refer to Essex County. Transcriptions of registry dates of birth, death, burial, marriage, wills etc. are shown in the tabular summary in the Reference section below<3>. For purposes of comparison of this Gentry family with others of Essex County, we will use a rough generation scale as follows:
  1.     First - born about 1500 to 1535
  2.     Second - born about 1535 to 1570
  3.     Third - born about 1570 to 1600
  4.     Fourth - born about 1600 to 1635
  5.     Fifth - born about 1635 to 1670

First Generation

1. John Gentry of Lindsell
–   born probably in about 1510,
–   buried 27 Oct 1570, Lindsell, husbandman, left a will dated 1570.
–   married probably about 1555, Agnes [--?--]; ( buried 4 Mar 1571/2, Lindsell, left a will dated 1571).
[The marriage of John's daughter, Joan, in Thaxted, suggests that the family may have lived there before moving to Lindsell but there is no direct evidence to either support or disprove this.]
  i. Agnes Gentry; married [--?--] Wood, children included Barbara Wood, Simon Wood and others.
 ii. Joan Gentry; married 25 May 1559, Thaxted, Essex, to Roger Conney, children included John, Ellen, Marie, and Agnes Conney.
 iii. Katherine Gentry; married [--?--] Curtis, children included Peter and John Curtis..
 iv. Richard Gentry, shoemaker, left a will dated 16 Mar 1580/81, Great Dunmow.
 v. Thomas Gentry. Simon Gentry.
 vii. Gilbert Gentry; buried 15 Mar 1592, Lindsell.

The wills of John, Agnes and Richard Gentry<4> appear to account for all the members of John's family. The will of John Gentry supports the order of birth of his sons, but has no indication of the relative dates of birth of his daughters — either with respect to each other, or with respect to his sons. John specifically names Richard as his eldest son, Thomas as the second son, Simon as the third son and Gilbert as the fourth son. It is of interest that both John and Agnes mention by name all of their children, and Richard mentions the names of all of his siblings, providing cross-confirmation of these names. This latter circumstance indicates that all of the siblings were still alive at the time of Richard's death, and if not all living in Lindsell, were living close enough for the family to maintain easy contact with each other.

The spelling of the names used in this chart varied in the original documents from one will to another, and also within specific wills. The spelling has arbitrarily been given in modern form here, for example, "Joan" instead of "Johan", "Simon" instead of "Symon" and "Gilbert" instead of "Gylbert". For the married surnames of the daughters, one of the various alternate spellings has been adopted in each case, for example, "Curtis" instead of "Kurteis", "Curtes", and "Curteis". For dates, we are using the common convention of providing a double date for dates between January 1st and March 24th. This is to accommodate the Julian calendar which was in use in Great Britain at the time. The Julian year ran from March 25th of one year to March 24th of the following year. Accordingly that latter portion of the year was considered a part of the year starting in the spring of the year indicated by the first of the two date numbers.

John's will provides for gifts of money for the most part, and for the gift of a lamb to three of his grandchildren. There is no provision for passing on title to any land or a house. As a self-proclaimed husbandman (farmer), this strongly suggests that he was occupying copyhold land (as opposed to freehold land to which he might hold title and be able to pass on to his descendants)<5>. The gift of lambs by John and gifts of sheep, a bullock, a cow, a pig and poultry by Agnes indicate that John was strong on livestock rather than only raising crops.

Richard's will shows no evidence of having a wife or children, and there is no evidence in any of the wills of any wives or children for Thomas or Gilbert. In the case of the wills of John and Agnes, the mention of bequests for children of their daughters suggests that they were all older than the sons and thus had already started families. In the case of Richard's will, there is a bequest to his brother, Simon's unborn child. Simon's wife, Alice, was with child at the time of the will, and the child was to receive a gift of money when the child became eighteen or married, whichever occurred first. (Since this was the only mention of a child of Simon, it is probably safe to assume that the unborn child was Simon's first, namely Simon Junior.) Also, Alice was to receive a piece of furniture along with gifts of furniture for his sisters Agnes and Katherine and gifts of money to nephews and nieces. These gifts suggest that Richard's brothers (a) had no children, and (b) if they were married, their wives were in such a location that it would be impractical to give them furniture.

Thomas Gentry does not appear in any further Lindsell records, and is thought to have moved away. The presence of younger generations of Gentrys in the vicinity of Epping, Essex County, may represent descendants of Thomas. This is discussed further in the section below on fragmentary Gentry families. Gilbert remained in the vicinity of Lindsell and died there, but nothing is known about his family. There do not seem to be any local baptism or marriage records associated with possible children of either Thomas or Gilbert. The one exception is a Bridget Gentry who is discussed in the notes for Simon Gentry the Elder.

Second Generation

2. Simon Gentry the Elder of Lindsell
–   born about 1549, probably in Lindsell;
–   buried 22 Feb 1617/8, Lindsell, labourer, left a will dated 1618.
–   married 6 Oct 1578, Felsted, to Alice Finch; (buried 17 May 1625, Lindsell).
3i. Simon Gentry the Younger, born about 1581 (see Richard's will).
 ii. Roger Gentry, died before father's will of 1618, son Francis Gentry born after 1603 and included in grandfather's will.
4iii. Samuel Gentry the Elder, baptized 24 Aug 1590, Little Dunmow, Essex.
 iv.? Breidget / Bridget Gentry; married Richard Warner, son Richard baptized 22 Jul 1604, Lindsell.

The elder Simon's date of burial and the date for the writing of his will is given in Mrs. Herbert Gentry's article as the year 1618/9, but this is a misinterpretation either by her or by her correspondents in accounting for the Julian calendar . The original document gives the year as 1617/8 which agrees with the date of April 1618 for the proving of his will. In this will, Simon left his personal belongings and his cottage to his wife Alice. On her death, the personal effects were to be divided between his two sons Simon and Samuel. The cottage was to go to Simon and Samuel was to be recompensed for his share to the tune of £8. Three grandchildren, Roger son of Simon, Francis son of Roger, and Nathaniel son of Samuel, all under the age of fifteen, were given small sums of money. The will indicates a very modest estate for Simon, commensurate with his occupation, a small cottage being the major portion. Reading between the lines, Simon appears to have lived with his father, remaining in Lindsell after his father's death while his brother, Samuel, moved from Lindsell to Great Dunmow.

Bridget Gentry, with a son baptized in 1604, was of an age approximating that of the elder Simon Gentry's sons. Because her home was in Lindsell, it is probable that she was part of the John Gentry extended family, but she could have been a daughter of Gilbert Gentry as well as of Simon Gentry, both of whom lived in the Lindsell area. Because she is not mentioned in Richard's will, she probably was not a daughter of his. It is unlikely that she was a daughter of Thomas Gentry since he is thought to have moved away.

Third Generation

3. Simon Gentry the Younger
–   born about 1581, probably in Lindsell;
–   buried 28 Jan 1635/6, Lindsell, husbandman, left a will dated 1635;
–   married Anna [--?--] (buried 2 Nov 1638, Lindsell).
    Children of Simon and Anna:
i. Roger Gentry, born after 1603, buried 28 Jan 1662/3, Lindsell; married 1 May 1635, Lindsell, to Rebecca Wallis.
  Children of Roger and Rebecca:
 a. Samuel Gentry, baptized 30 Nov 1635, Lindsell; married 1657, Great Dunmow, to Sara Eve.
 b. John Gentry, baptized 16 Apr 1637, Lindsell.
ii.? possibly Francis Gentry, who was married 24 Jun 1635, Lindsell, to Thomas Wright.

We have no information in any of the Lindsell records of any other Gentrys who might be possible children of Simon the Younger. There is no further information on the children of Roger other than the fact that his son, Samuel, apparently left home as a young man and followed his uncle Samuel the Elder to Great Dunmow. Simon's will is filed with others proved at Chelmsford, Essex (181MW4), but the text of the will has not been transcribed.

4. Samuel Gentry the Elder
  –   baptized 24 Aug 1590, Little Dunmow;
  –   buried 27 Jan 1658/9, Great Dunmow;
  –   married 8 Sep 1616, Great Dunmow to Elizabeth Wade (baptized 26 Mar 1587, Thaxted, buried 16 Dec 1652, Great Dunmow).
  Children (all baptized at Great Dunmow):
5 i. Nathaniel Gentry the Elder, baptized 14 Dec 1617.
 ii. Martha Gentry, baptized 6 Feb 1620; married 1648, Great Dunmow, to William Gray.
iii. Simon Gentry , baptized 25 Nov 1621.
iv. John Gentry (twin), baptized 9 Oct 1625.
v. Josias Gentry (twin), baptized 9 Oct 1625.
6vi. Samuel Gentry the Younger. baptized 16 Dec 1627.
 vii. Margaret Gentry, baptized 13 Sep 1629.
viii. Richard Gentry,baptized 11 Dec 1631; moved to Witham<3f>?
ix. Thomas Gentry, baptized 13 Oct 1633.
x. Frances Gentry, baptized 25 Mar 1635.
At the time of his death, Samuel Sr. was church clerk and registrar.

A Simon Gentry who was living in London in 1695 and included in a census record of London-Within-the-Wall<6g>, may have been the Simon listed above but he would have been 74 at the time and it is more likely that the London Simon was a son of this Simon or possibly a son of John, Josias or Thomas. (Nathaniel's son, Simon, who wrote the will described below, was listed in the same census.) As one compares the locations where the second and third generation Gentrys and their children were born, married and buried, there is a pattern of scattering from Lindsell first to Great Dunmow in about the late 1630's, then further scattering to Kelvedon, Easton and Witham and eventually London. There was also a move from being a husbandman (farmer) and ordinary laborer to being involved in some trade or other skilled position. It is significant that all of the Gentrys were a step or two removed from being peasant farmers or tenants and had enough personal property for several of them to write wills disposing of that property.

Fourth Generation   
The recent additions of source material have led to some modest changes in family relationships originally proposed by the writer as well as dates of baptism for most of Nathaniel's children. The principal change in relationship is that Nathaniel Gentry's marriage to Mary Raven shown below appears to have been a second marriage on his part, and the suggestion that he had married Susanna Kendal after the death of Mary has been confirmed.

5. Nathaniel Gentry the Elder(*)
–   baptized 14 Dec 1617, Great Dunmow, innholder, Kelvedon.
–   married (1) about 1643, probably in Kelvedon, to "Sary" [Sarah?] [--?--];
–   married (2) about 1647, probably in Kelvedon, to Mary Raven (buried 17 Jun 1669, Kelvedon);
–   married (3) (widower) 2 Nov 1669, Kelvedon, to Susanna Kendall(widow).
  Children of Nathaniel and Sary:
  i. Mary Gentry (*), baptized 20 Sep 1644, Kelvedon; married [John?] Webb.
7 ii. Nathaniel Gentry the Younger (*), born about 1646 (spec).
    Children of Nathaniel and Mary:
iii. Samuel Gentry, baptized 22 Jul 1649, Kelvedon.
iv Simon Gentry, baptized 14 Feb 1654/5, Kelvedon, died 16 Dec 1697, London, bachelor, left a will dated 15 Dec 1697, London.
v. John Gentry (*), born about 1658 (spec), married 15 Apr 1679, London, to Levine Smith.
  Children of John and Levine:
 a. John Gentry (*), (twin) baptized 29 Feb 1683/4, London.
 b. Lavine Gentry, (twin) buried 29 Feb 1683/4, London
 c. Nathaniel Gentry (*), baptized 7 Apr 1687, London.
vi. William Gentry, born abt 1669?; baptized 23 Jan 1672/3, Kelvedon.
 Children of Nathaniel and Susanna:
vii. Elizabeth Gentry, baptized 24 Jun 1679, Kelvedon.
viii. Richard Gentry(*), (Speculation), born after 1680.
ix. Samuel Gentry(*), (Speculation), born after 1680.
(*) Included in the will of Simon Gentry of London.

Nathaniel Gentry of Kelvedon (the Elder) is assumed to be the same grandson Nathaniel to whom Simon Gentry the Elder bequeathed money. Baptismal records of Nathaniel's children reported to Mrs. Herbert Gentry were only for Mary, Samuel and Simon. [The original register of the Kelvedon parish church was not available to the correspondents with whom Mrs. Herbert Gentry was in contact. Their data was taken from a transcript of those records.] The reported records omit William, Thomas and Elizabeth, and show Mary Gentry as being the mother of Nathaniel's first daughter, Mary, while the original records show her mother as Sary. The baptismal register shows William as being the son of "Samuel Gentry and Mary his wife". This is subject to two interpretations despite the apparent discrepancy in baptismal date. One is that William was born before Mary died and was not baptized until several years later (this was rare but occurred occasionally). The second is that there was a clerical error when the entry was made in the register, and it should have shown Susanna as William's mother.

The record for Nathaniel's family meets the criterion for possibly being the source of the Samuel who went to Virginia. There is no record for a Nicholas in the family, but there is a gap in the children of Nathaniel and Mary between Samuel and Simon when a hypotherical Nicholas could have been born. We also have the presence of a Nicholas Raven, Mary's brother (see below), as a plausible source for the name Nicholas. Moreover, the Virginia Nicholas' son, Samuel-II, had children named Simon, Nathaniel, John, William and Richard, all names of hypothetical uncles of his. Clearly this family deserves further study as the source of the Virginia Gentrys. The topic will be discussed in more detail in the next succeeding issue of the Gentry Journal.

In addition to the parish baptismal records, most of the members of Nathaniel Sr.'s family can be further identified from the 1697 will of Simon Gentry, Nathaniel's son, who had moved from Kelvedon to London<3e>. In the list of beneficiaries, Simon identifies a Richard and a Samuel Gentry as "my brothers by the half blood". The Samuel who was baptized in 1649 and Simon were both clearly listed in the parish register as sons of "Nathaniel and Mary Gentry" at baptism, so Simon's full-brother, Samuel, was different from the Samuel in the will. The best explanation is that Richard and the second Samuel were undocumented younger children of Nathaniel's wife, Susanna. They would have been contemporary in age to the children of his brother Nathaniel.

Simon's final will, written on the day before he died, was a revision of one which he had prepared earlier. Changes that are known to have been made included replacing his brother Nathaniel Jr. and a friend, Simon Knight, as executors with a new executor, Nathaniel Jr.'s son, Simon Gentry. He also increased the amount of his bequest to his nephew James (another son of Nathaniel), a last minute addition of a bequest to "Natt Gentry, son of my brother Natt Gentry", and a bequest to his uncle Nicholas Raven and the latter's son John Raven. The added "Natt Gentry" was not mentioned earlier in the will when other sons of Nathaniel Jr. were listed. That may have been a deliberate omission, or simply an oversight that was corrected at the last moment. Simon's uncle, Nicholas Raven, could have been a brother of one of Nicholas Gentry's sisters but it was likely that he was a brother of Simon's mother, Mary, in which case her maiden name must have been Raven.

6. Samuel Gentry the Younger
  –   baptized 16 Dec 1627, Great Dunmow; buried 22 Oct 1695, Lindsell;
  –   married (1) 22 Aug 1655, at Thaxted, to Margaret Draper of Great Easton (baptized 13 Aug 1620, Great Easton; buried 5 Mar 1681/2, Lindsell, daughter of Richard Draper Jr. and Elizabeth Baker).
  –   married (2) 16 May 1682, (as a "widower"), at Lindsell to Elizabeth Wilson of Great Bardfield (see note).
    Children of Samuel and Margaret:
i.Susan Gentry, baptized 4 Aug 1657, Great Easton; married 28 Jun 1677, Lindsell, to Thomas Knightingale; buried 20 Feb 1681/2, Lindsell.
ii. Samuel Gentry, baptized 9 Aug 1663, Great Easton.
  Children of Samuel and Elizabeth:
iii. Samuel Gentry, baptized 13 Jan 1683/4, buried 27 Jan 1683/4, Lindsell.
iv. Roger Gentry, baptized 31 May 1685, buried [Dec?] 1685, Lindsell.
v. John Gentry, baptized 27 Nov 1687.
[Note. Samuel's wife, Elizabeth, has been reported to have been buried 22 Dec 1687. The burial register actually reads "Elizabeth the wife of _____ Gray buried Dec 22 1687". There is no obvious way in which the surname can be read as "Gentry".]

This Samuel was born in Great Dunmow but had moved to Great Easton when he was married in 1655. His wife was part of a large family there and it is not clear why they were married in the parish church at neighboring Thaxted (both were shown as "of Easton"). Samuel and Margaret's two oldest children were baptized in Great Easton, but it is interesting to note that the notice of Samuel's baptism leaves a blank space for both his father's and his mother's name as if the family was not a regular member of the church congregation and the clerk intended to learn the parents' names but neglected to do so. Efforts to find records of other children of Samuel and Margaret in both Great and Little Easton, in neighboring villages and in Lindsell have not been successful. The family moved to Lindsell before 1677 (when Susan was married) where Samuel and Margaret spent the rest of their lives.

[Note. The transcription of the baptismal, marriage and burial records at Lindsell as reported to Mrs. Herbert Gentry appears to be in error as far as dates of the Julian calendar are concerned. It seems probable that there may have been some confusion in recording the original dates and then converting them from Julian to modern calendar years. The corrected dates as taken from images of the original register are given in the references below.]

Fifth Generation

7. Nathaniel Gentry the Younger (*)
–   born about 1646; died 1721, Witham, innholder, left a will dated 26 Aug 1719;
–   married (1) (spec), to Unknown;
–   married (2), Frances [--?--] (**).
    Children of Nathaniel and Unknown Wife?:
i. Simon Gentry (*)
ii. John Gentry (*)
iii. James Gentry (*)(**), married Susanna [--?--], innkeeper, will dated 1725, Witham.
  Children of Nathaniel and Frances (all baptized in Witham):
iv. Judith Gentry (*)(**), baptized 2 Feb 1680/1; married Thomas Raynor, moved to London.
v. Mary Gentry (*)(**), baptized 28 Aug 1685;
vi. Lavine Gentry (*)(**), baptized 18 Aug 1686; married Henry Shuttleworth, moved to Much Baddow.
vii. Ann Gentry (*)(**), baptized 15 Jan 1688/9; married William Brewer of Witham.
viii. Nathaniel George Gentry (*), baptized 30 Jul 1690.
ix. Elizabeth Gentry (*)(**), baptized 24 Feb 1691/2; married Edward Parsons, moved to London.
x. Joseph Gentry, baptized 12 Dec 1693, buried 7 Jan 1694/5, Witham.
xi. Frances Gentry (*)(**), baptized 28 Nov 1696.
(*) Included in the will of Nathaniel's brother Simon, 1697.
(**) Included in Nathaniel's will, 1719.

The Witham family is referred to as "Gentrie" throughout all the parish records. The inclusion of this Nathaniel's children in the will of Nathaniel's brother, Simon, provides some information about the family that is not found in other records. In particular, Nathaniel's sons, Simon and John, are identified, and appear to be very much the oldest in the family. Son, James, is lacking any record of baptism, but is included in Simon's will with a very much smaller bequest than his older brothers. But the fact that he was included at the time of the will (1697) indicates that he must have been older than his sisters. Also the fact that Nathaniel Jr. was initially omitted, then given a relatively small bequest is explained by his young age at the time Simon's will was written.

Court records for a Nathaniel Gentry, innkeeper, in the town of Bocking in 1680, 1684 and 1686 and parish records are for a different Nathaniel than the ones that lived in Kelvedon and Witham. The other Nathaniel was the one by that name who was in the will of Henry Gentry of Bocking in 1666 (see below). The Bocking Nathaniel married his wife, Margaret, in 1684 in Bocking and was buried in Bocking in 1690. Nathaniel Gentry of Kelvedon was alive in 1697 at the time of his son, Simon's, will and Nathaniel Gentry of Witham died in 1721.

B. Fragmentary Other Neighboring Gentry Families

In addition to the John Gentry family we have described above, Essex County records show the existence of a number of other Gentrys, all of whom were probably related in some fashion to those of Lindsell and Great Dunsmow. One of these families was that of William Gentry of Great Canfield, a small community some four or so miles south of Great Dunsmow. (Today, this community is so small that it does not appear on most maps of Essex.)

William Gentry of Great Canfield

–  born probably about 1545 to 1550,
–  buried 6 Mar 1586/7, Great Canfield;
    –  married 28 Jul 1572, Great Canfield, to Johan/Joan Beade (widow) (buried 1 Jun 1630, Great Canfield).
 i. Thomas Gentry, baptized 14 Sep 1578, Great Canfield, buried 17 Mar 1608/9, Great Canfield; married 30 Jun 1601, Great Canfield, to Barbary (Barbara?) Chander.
  Children of Thomas and Barbara:
  a. Mary Gentry, baptized 5 Nov 1601, Great Canfield, buried 20 Jul 1635, Great Canfield? [burial listed for 'Mary Gentre" rather than "Mary Taylor"]; married 25 Feb 1624/5, Great Canfield, to Thomas Taylor.
 b. Joane/Joan Gentry, baptized 6 Nov 1603, Great Canfield; married 1629, High Roding, to Robert Cabbidge.
 ii. Johan/Joan Gentry, baptized 11 Feb 1581/2, Great Canfield; married Oct 1600, Great Canfield, to William Ward/Wood.

William's death relatively soon after his marriage suggests that he had no other surviving children than these two. The lack of male descendants explains why there were no further records to Gentrys in Great Canfield. William's age, consistent with the second generation of Gentrys, places him in the same generation as the children of John Gentry of Lindsell. William's father could easily have been a brother of John.

Gentrys of South Weald
There are two marriage records for Gentrys in the parish of South Weald, roughly twenty miles south of Great Dunmow. This parish is close enough, and the name, Gentry, was so comparatively uncommon, that it is no stretch of imagination to conjecture that the two individuals were related in some fashion to the northern Gentrys.

(a) Thomas Gentry, married 1634, South Weald, to Elizabeth Turner
(b) Richard Gentry, married 1635, South Weald, to Sara Cole.
Thomas and Richard can be assumed to be brothers, born probably in the interval 1605-1615. With the repetition of the names Thomas and Richard, it would not be surprising if they were descended from the family of John Gentry of Lindsell, and more particularly that they were descended from John's son, Thomas.

Gentrys of Epping, Essex
Yet another family fragment, that of Joseph Gentry, recorded in Epping, Essex, may have been related to the Lindsell Gentrys. Epping was roughly ten miles northwest of South Weald and roughly twenty miles west and south of Great Dunmow by road. As such it was in the same general direction of migration from Lindsell and Great Dunmow as South Weald. From the parish records, we can construct a family as shown below.

1. Joseph Gentry of Epping
  - born about 1625 to 1630?
- married (1) Elizabeth [Unknown]; died about 1667 to 1668?
- married (2) Mary [Unknown].
  Children of Joseph and Elizabeth (all born in Epping):
i Elizabeth Gentry born 8 Jan 1653/4.
ii Joseph Gentry born 22 Jul 1657.
iii Thomas Gentry born 27 Jan 1659/60; married Bridget [Unknown]; son John Gentry born 19 Dec 1697.
iv Sarah Gentry born 30 Jan 1662/3.
2v John Gentry born 23 Apr 1665.
 vi Unnamed Child born 14 Jan 1667/8.
 Children of Joseph and Mary:
3viii Joseph Gentry (2nd) 27 Nov 1670.

Children of Joseph

2. John Gentry
  - born 23 Apr 1665
- married Mary [Unknown].
  Children of John and Mary (born in Epping):
i Unnamed child born 7 Apr 1691.
ii John Gentry born 13 Mar 1692/3.
iii Thomas Gentry born 8 Mar 1695/6.
iv Richard Gentry born 23 Oct 1698.

3. Joseph Gentry
  - born 27 Nov 1670
- married Martha King.
  Children of Joseph and Martha (born in Epping):
i Martha Gentry born 22 Mar 1695/6.
ii Joseph Gentry born 7 Feb 1696/7.
iii John Gentry born 26 Feb 1698/9.
iv Thomas Gentry born 12 Jun 1700.

The same Epping family appears in Essex Quarterly Sessions court records in which John (bricklayer), Thomas, and Joseph Gentry of Epping were cited in 1689 and 1690. The name Joseph is not particularly common among the early Essex Gentrys, but another Joseph was a son of Nathaniel Gentry of Kelvedon and there were a number of Josephs among the later generations of the Bocking Gentrys. The name, Thomas, may be more significant. Joseph Sr. of Epping was younger than Thomas and Richard of South Weald, but older than any children of theirs. Joseph's father may well have been an older brother of Thomas and Richard, and all three descendants of Thomas Gentry, son of John Gentry of Lindsell. The fate of the older Thomas is not known. He probably moved away from Lindsell but not so far but that he was included in his father's will in 1571 and that of his brother Richard in 1581. While there is no record of his children, based on the correspondence of name, one can speculate that Thomas was the father of an unknown son who in turn was the father of the two South Weald Gentrys, and grandfather of Joseph Gentry of Epping.


  1.   "Gentry Family Gazette & Genealogy Exchange", Richard H. Gentry, editor, McLean, Virginia, published 1979 to 1997.
 2. Willard Gentry, "The Gentrys of County Essex and Suffolk, England", Journal of Gentry Genealogy, Issue A, 2013, URL: <>.
 3. Mrs. Herbert R. Gentry, "The Hunt for the Missing Link: Research in England", Gentry Family Gazette and Genealogy Exchange, vol 6, p.135-152 (May 1987). Reference material published in this article has been reorganized and is reprinted here.
(a) Baptismal Records
     Date Refr Location Child Parents
1578Sep 14R Great CanfieldThomasWilliam Gentrye
1581/2Feb 11R Great CanfieldJohan [dau]William Gentrye
1601Nov 5R Great CanfieldMaryThomas Gentry
1603Nov 3R Great CanfieldJoaneThomas Gentry
1604Jul 22R LindsellRichardBreidget Gentry and Richard Warner
[1617Dec 14R* Great DunmowNathanielSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1620/1]Feb 6R* Great DunmowMarthaSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1620Aug 13R* Great EastonMargaretRichard Draper]
[1621Nov 25R* Great DunmowSimonSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1625Oct 9R* Great DunmowJohn (twin)Samuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1625Oct 9R* Great DunmowJosias (twin)Samuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1627Dec 16R* Great DunmowSamuelSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1629Sep 13R* Great DunmowMargaretSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1631Dec 11R* Great DunmowRichardSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1633Oct 13R* Great DunmowThomasSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
[1635Mar 25R* Great DunmowFrancesSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry]
1635Nov 30R LindsellSamuelRoger and Rebecca Gentry
1637Apr 16R LindsellJohnRoger and Rebecca Gentry
1644Sep 20R* KelvedonMaryNathaniel & [Sara] Gentry
1649Jul 22R KelvedonSamuelNathaniel & Mary Gentry
1654/5Feb 14R KelvedonSimonNathaniel & Mary Gentry
1657Aug 4R Great EastonSusanSamuel Gentry and [Margaret]
1663Aug 9R Great EastonSamuelSamuel Gentry and wife
[1672/3Jan 23R* KelvedonWilliamNathaniel & Mary Gentry]
[167823 JunR* KelvedonThomasNathaniel and Susanna Gentry]
[167924 JunR* KelvedonElizabethNathaniel and Susanna Gentry]
[1680/12 FebR* WithamJudithNathaniel and Frances Gentry]
1683/4Feb 29 BILondonJohn John Gentry and Levine
[1683/4]Jan 13R* LindsellSamuelSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry
1685May 31R LindsellRogerSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry
1687Nov 27R LindsellJohnSamuel and Elizabeth Gentry
1687Apr 7BI LondonNathanielJohn Gentry and Levine

(b) Marriages
     Date Refr Location Groom Bride
1572Jul 28R Great CanfieldWilliam GentreyJohan Beade, widow
1600Oct 19R Great CanfieldWilliam WoodJoan Gentrye
1601Jun 10R Great CanfieldThomas GentryeBarbary Chander
[1616Sep 8R* Great DunmowSamuel GentrieElizabeth Wade]
1624/5Feb 25R Great CanfieldThomas TaylorMary Gentrye
1634   BM South Weald Thomas Gentry Elizabeth Turner
1635 May 1 R Lindsell Roger Gentry of Gt Easton Rebecca Wallis
1635 Jun 24 R Lindsell Thomas Wright Francis Gentry
1635   BM Lindsell Roger Gentry Rebecca Wallis
1635   BM South Weald Richard Gentry Sara Cole
1635   BM Lindsell Thomas Right Frances Gentry
1648   BM Great Dunmow William Gray Martha Gentry
1655   BM Great Dunmow Philip Gentry Joan Philpot
1655 Aug 22 R Thaxted Samuel Gentry, of Easton Margaret Draper, of same
1657   BM Great Dunmow Samuel Gentry Sara Eve
1669   BM Kelvedon Nathaniel Gentry Susan Kendall
1674   BM Widford Benjamin Clark Mary Gentry
1677 Jun 28 R Lindsell Thomas Knightingale Susan Gentrey
[1679] Apr 15 BI London John Gentry Levine Smith
1682 May 16 R Lindsell Samuel Gentry, widower Elizabeth Wilson, of Great Bardfield
(c) Burials
     Date Refr Location Name
1570 Oct 27 R Lindsell John Jentry
1571 Mar 4 R Lindsell Agnes wife of John Jentry
1586/7 Mar 6 R Great Canfield William Gentrie
1592 Mar 15 R Lindsell Gilbert Jentry
1608/9 Mar 17 R Great Canfield Thomas Gentrye
[1617/8 Feb 22] R* Lindsell Simon Gentrie the elder & father
1625 May 17 R Lindsell Alice Gentrie widow
1630 Jun 1 R Great Canfield Joan Gentrye
1635 Jul 20 R Great Canfield Mary Gentre
1635/6 Jan 28 R Lindsell Simon Gentry
1638Nov 2R LindsellAnna Gentry widow
[1658/9Jan 27R* Great DunmowSamuel Gentrie [the church clerk and registrar of this register]
[1662/3Jan 28?R* LindsellRoger Gentrie]
[166917 JunR* KelvedonMary wife of Nathaniel Gentry]
1681/2Mar 5R* LindsellMargaret wife of Samuel Gentry
1683/4Feb 29BI London[Levine Gentry]
1683/4Jan 27R* LindsellSamuel son of Samuel Gentry
1685[Dec?]R LindsellRoger son of Samuel Gentry
[1694/57 JanR* WithamJoseph son of Nathaniel Gentry]
1695Oct 22R LindsellSamuel Gentry
170624 NovR* WithamMary daughter of Nathaniel Gentry]
1707/829 FebR* WithamFrances wife of Nathaniel Gentry]

Key to References:
    BI = Boyd's "Index to the Inhabitants of London"
    BM = Boyd's "Marriage Indexes (Essex)"
    R = Parish register     (* = corrected or added from image of original register)

(d) Wills – (Proved at Chelmsford, Essex)
Date Refr Location Name Occupation
1546 26BW21 Brightlingsea Robert Gentry husbandman
1570 96MR3 Lindsell John Gentry husbandman
1571/2 149BR4 Lindsell Agnes Gentry widow
1578 250BW16 Wethersfield Henry Gentry  
1580 304MR3 Great Dunmow Richard Gentry shoemaker
1618 16MW2 Lindsell Simon Gentry labourer
1635 181MW4 Lindsell Simon Jentree husbandman
1721 144CR13 Witham Nathaniel Gentry innholder
1725 268CR13 Witham James Gentry innholder
1745 178CR15 Messing Mary Gentry widow
1750 502BR23 Maldon Catherine Gentry widow
1751 64BR24 Thorrington William Gentry innkeeper
1760 145MR12 Netteswell Thomas Gentry tanner

(e) Abstracts of Wills
Wills of Family and Descendants of Simon Gentry of Lindsell
1618Apr Will of Simon Gentry of Lindsell, labourer, written 16 Feb 1618/9 [sic], proved at Chelmsford, Essex
  Bequests to:
Wife Alice - moveable goods and cottage
Sons Simon and Samuel - moveable goods after the death of Alice, cottage to go to Simon who is to pay Samuel £8
Grandson Roger Gentry, son of Simon - 10s when he is 15
Grandson Francis Gentry, son of Roger - 10s when he is 15
Grandson Nathaniel Gentry, son of Samuel - 10s when he is 15
1697/821 Jan Will of Simon Gentry of St. Benet Paul's Wharf Parish, London, bachelor porter (died 16 Dec 1697), written 15 Dec 1697. Proved at London at the Prerogative Court of Canterbury.
Published in: Emma Gene (Seale) Gentry, "The Will of Simon Gentry", Gentry Family Gazette and Genealogy, vol 1, p.159-167, (Dec 1980).
Father Nathaniel Gentry - 40s per annum to be paid quarterly or annually as he wishes
Sister Mary Webb (widow) - £20 (or children if dies within six months)
Nephew Simon Gentry (son of brother Nathaniel) - £120
Nephew John Gentry (son of brother Nathaniel) - £100
Nephew John Gentry (son of brother John) - 1s
Nephew Nathaniel Gentry (son of brother John) - 1s
Nieces Judith, Mary, Levine, Ann, Elizabeth, Frances (daughters of brother Nathaniel) and nephew James Gentry (son of brother Nathaniel) - £5 each
Brothers by the half blood, Richard and Samuel Gentry
Brother John Gentry - 1s
Brother Nathaniel Gentry - cloak
Niece Mary Gentry (daughter of Nathaniel) - silver porringer and spoon and silver tankard
Sister-in-law Frances Gentry (wife of Nathaniel) - ring of 20s price
Elizabeth Booker - ring of 12s price
Thomas Booker - ring of 12s price
Simon Knight - ring of 15s price
Charles Garrett - ring of 20s price
Bernard Hills - ring of 20s price
Madam Bradway (wife of Mr. Abraham) - ring of 12s price
Peter, now Mr. Lane's man - ring of 12s price
Nephews John, Simon and James Gentry - residue ot estate to be divided equally among them, Simon having the first choice.
  Nephew Simon Gentry named as executor
  Additions to will given in writing to Thomas Booker on 15 Dec 1697:
Natt Gentry, son of my brother Natt Gentry - £5
James Gentry - £15 more than the £5 given before which makes £20
Uncle Nich. Raven and to John his son - to each a ring of 12s price
Wills of Gentry Families of Witham
1721Oct 18 Will of Nathaniel Gentry of Witham, innholder, written 26 Aug 1719, proved at Chelmsford, Essex
  Bequests to:
Youngest daughter, Frances Gentry - my cottage
Children Judith (wife of Thomas Rayner of London), Lavine (wife of Henry Shuttleworth of Much Baddow), Ann (wife of William Brewer of Witham), Elizabeth (wife of Edward Parsons), Frances Gentry and James Gentry
1725   Will of James Gentry of Witham, innholder, written 6 Jun 1725, proved at Chelmsford, Essex
  Bequests to:
Wife Susanna - my house

(f) Records of the Quarter Sessions Court for the County of Essex
1651 Kelvedon Nathaniel Gentry - unlicensed alehouse
1663 Kelvedon Nathaniel Gentry - witness
1664 Kelvedon? Nathaniel Gentry - work on highways
1688 Kelvedon Nathaniel Gentry, baker - sale of short measure
1689 Epping John Gentry, brickmaker - assault
1690 Epping Thomas Gentry and Joseph Gentry - stolen goods

(g)          Taxation Census

1695 taxation census of London-within-the-Walls:
Simon Gentry, resident of parish of St. Benet Paul's Wharf;
Simon Gentry, resident of parish of St. Martin Vintry.

4.  Kirsty F. Wilkinson, (URL <>, or <enquiries (at)>)
Transcription and annotation of wills listed below. Photocopies of these wills were obtained from Chelmsford, Essex, England through the services of "British Ancestors", PO Box 69, Wellington, TF1 1WB, England, URL <>. Spellings of names have been preserved, but dates have been corrected for "old" and "new" calendar.    (See facsimiles)

This writer is greatly indebted to Kirsty Wilkinson for the transcription of the wills described below and for providing explanatory notes and modernized readings of the transcriptions.

Summaries of Wills of Family of John Gentry of Lindsell
1570 Nov 25 Will of John Gentrey of Lyndsel, husbandman, written 6 Oct 1570, proved at Braincketrey, [Essex]
  Bequests to:
Wife Agnes - residue of all moveable and unmoveable goods.
Eldest son Richard Gentrey - 40s to be paid at Easter feast next year
Second son Thomas Gentry - 40s to be paid at same feast
Third son Symon Gentry - 40s to be paid at same feast
Fourth son Gylberte Gentrey - 40s to be paid at same feast
Daughter Agnes - a cow to be delivered two years after my death if she does not miscarry in the meantime.
Grandchildren John Conye and Ellen Conye (children of Roger Conye) - a lamb each immediately after my death.
Grandson Peter Curtes (son of daughter Kattherine) - a lamb
Granddaughter Barbara Wode (daughter of my daughter Agnes) - 5s
Daughters Johane Conye, Kattherine Kurteis and Agnes Wode - 3s divided equally among them
Wife Agnes and son Symond appointed executors.
1570/1 Mar 19 Will of Agnis Jentree of Linesell, widow, written 1570, proved at Brancktrey, [Essex]
  Bequests to:
Son Richerd - [various items of furniture and utensils]
Sons Thomas and Simone - a great brass pot to be divided equally
Son Thomas - [household goods], a sheep, Agnes' bushel of corn [presumably the allotment of grain provided to widows on the death of a husband]
Son Simon - [household goods] and a sheep
Son Gilberd - [household goods] and 13s/4d
Daughter Joan ["Cunye"?] - [household goods and utensils]
Daughter Curtis - [household goods and utensils]
Daughter Agnis Wode - [household goods and clothing], my cow immediately after my death, my bullock for two years after my death.
Sons Simone and Gilberd - to have the bullock at the end of two years, [utensils], all my poultry, my pig.
Cousin Margare[t] Widhame - clothing, pillow, kettle, and 12d money.
[Grandson] Simond Wood - painted hutch
Female children - to divide equally all the rest of my money
Son Simond appointed executor and to receive all other moveable goods. If Simond at any time refuse, son Thomas [to serve as executor] but not otherwise.
1581 Apr 16 Will of Richard Gentrey of Muche Dunmowe, shoemaker, written 16 Mar 1580/1, proved at Dunmowe Magna [Essex].
  Bequests to:
Children of my sister Agnes Wood - 13s/4d each to be paid at age 18 or married whichever occurs first, and if any fail to survive, the others shall inherit that share
John Conney and Marie Conney, children of my sister Johan Conney - 13s/4d to be paid at age 18 or married as above and each to inherit from the other if one fail to survive
Agnes Conney, daughter of said Johan Conney - 20s
Brother Symon Gentrie - 20s which he owes me, [clothing]
Brother Thomas Gentry - 25s, [clothing]
Brother Gilberte Gentrie - 20s, [clothing]
Peter Curteis and John Curteis, sons of my sister Katherine Curteis - 20s each to be paid at age 18 or married whichever occurs first, and one shall inherit from the other
Sister Katherine Curteis - my feather bed
Sister-in-law [Alice], wife of Simon Gentry - 13s/4d to be paid to the child which she bears to be paid at the child's reaching age 18 or married whichever occurs first, or on failure to survive, money to go to child's mother, Alice
Sister-in-law Alice Gentrie - great chest
Sister Johan Conney - 6s/8d
Sister Joane Coney - 18s/4d which her husband Roger owes me
Sister Agnes Wood - 6s/8d
Barbara Wood, daughter of my sister Agnes Wood - lesser chest
Symonde Wood, son of my sister Agnes Wood - [clothing]
To the poor people of the parish of Muche Dunmowe - 6s/8d to be distributed at the discretion of executor within one week after my death
George Aylett of the Swanne of Muche Dunmowe - 10s
Children of George Aylet - 12d each
[Servants of George Aylet] - 12d each
Sister Katherine Curteies - residue of moveable and unmoveable goods.
George Aylet of the Swan of Muche Dunmowe to be executor

5.   The practice of "freehold" and "copyhold" had their roots in feudalism, and in Britain dated from the time of the Norman Conquest. Briefly, freehold land was land within the local manor which was held by the owner under terms protected by the Royal Courts and which could be conveyed by sale or inheritance. Copyhold land was held by the occupant at the pleasure of the lord of the manor. Originally such occupant had no protection against abuse and had many obligations and restrictions relating to the lord of the manor, but by the sixteenth century, he was protected by holding a "copy" of the manorial court rolls which specified certain rights and privileges and which also detailed duties of the copyholder to the lord of the manor. For more information see various treatises on manorial law, for example, at URL:
< +3:+Copyhold+Tenure>.

6.       Online Parish Register Records
(a)     Seax – Essex Archives Online

The site provides high quality images of almost all original parish registers in Essex and describes itself as follows: "Essex Ancestors is an exclusively online service from the Essex Record Office (ERO), offering images of genealogical records in return for a subscription. It was launched in 2011 as a way of raising money to sustain and improve our services, and in particular to support continued growth in the number of images available from the ERO online. About 681,000 images are now available."   The site can be accessed at URL:
(b)     FreeReg Database
A second site provides access to the FreeReg project (standing for Free Registers) which describes itself: "Our objective is to provide free Internet searches of baptism, marriage, and burial records, that have been transcribed from parish and non-conformist registers of the U.K." This site provides an indexed database of information transcribed from parish registers. Because it depends on volunteer efforts, only a very limited number of parishs are included at the present time. It is not limited to Essex County. The database can be accessed at URL:

Original, April 2006 , Revised January 2007, Rewritten February 2015, Minor revisions January 2018

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