Meet the Planters – The Kents

Meet the Kent’s, Samuel and Thomas

The brothers Thomas and Samuel Kent were part of the community at Quaboag for several years before its demise. Their biographies have been traced with some difficulty, but their common ancestry seems to go back to Thomas Kent, Sr., probably son or brother of Richard Kent who left Southampton, England for America on March 24, 1633/4 on the ship ” Mary and John”. Robert Sayres, master. Richard brought with him his wife Jane and children Mary and Richard. There is no mention of Thomas, who could have been an older married son or a brother who followed to America later with his family.

Richard Kent had a grant of land of four acres near the Chebacco River in Ipswich in 1634. When an administrator was appointed to his estate on November 5, 1705, he was referred to as a laborer. A Thomas Kent Sr., died in Gloucester on May 1, 1658, and widow Kent on October 6, 1671, leaving two sons, Thomas and Samuel. They probably were both born in England. These brothers bought of Thomas Prince in 1657, 18 acres of land on the west side of Little River in Gloucester, where a house and land were situated. Thomas sold his property to Richard Dike in 1667.

Thomas Kent, Jr., had a house and land near the burying ground in Gloucester, recorded in the year 1649. He also bought several lots of William Meade’s which he conveyed to his brother Samuel in 1675.

Thomas married Jane Peney, daughter of Thomas, in Gloucester on March 28, 1658. Jane bore him at least 10 children, eight of whom were twins. Twin boys were born at Brookfield between August 2nd and 5th, 1675. Nothing further is known of them, except that they escaped the massacre. There may have been other children born at Brookfield, but no record has been found to confirm this.

Thomas came to Quaboag sometime in 1671, as nearly as can be ascertained. His account with John Pynchon shows two entries only, dated November 23, 1671, and December 6, 1671. That he did purchase a lot is confirmed by his payments of 01 05 00, to John Pynchon, for such a purpose. Since he was not a signer of the Petition for Incorporating Brookfield in 1673, one wonders whether he was temporarily absent from the plantation, had removed to Gloucester again, or whether he objected to the petition. We can never be sure, but he does not appear again on the records of Gloucester until April 11, 1676, when his last child, John was born there. It is probable that he continued in residence at Brookfield until August 1675.

Savage (the historian), says that Thomas was a freeman in Gloucester in 1690. He died at Gloucester on August 14, 1691.

Samuel Kent, younger brother of Thomas, was more active in the affairs of Quaboag Plantation. First mention of him is found in the Gloucester records when he married Frances Woodall on January 17, 1653/4. He had four children born at Gloucester between 1657 and 1664.

The beginning date of his account with John Pynchon is January 22, 1672/3, but reference is made to a credit to him for killing a wolf at Quaboag in 1672. Most likely, he came to Quaboag in 1671 with his brother Thomas, bought a double house lot, and settled down to the life of a planter, he contributed 6-1/2 days of labor toward the construction of the mill trench in 1672, for which he was paid by John Pynchon.

He was interested in the welfare of the Plantation, and signed the petition of 1673. He took the oath of fidelity to the government on December 18, 1673.

In March 1675,we find him at court at Northampton when Thomas Wilson was presented for having violated the curfew, and having spoken obscene and embarrassing words about Samuel Kent and his wife. He was in court again on June 18, 1675. when, as selectman of Brookfield, he was accused by John Ayres of having unlawfully ordered the constable to seize pewter dishes of his because of his refusal to pay certain assessments. Ayres lost the case, and was ordered to pay the expenses of the witnesses. We find nothing further of Samuel at Brookfield, but after the destruction of the town he settled at Suffield, where there is much evidence of his presence.

His first grant of land at Suffield was made in 1676 at which time he was allowed 60 acres, presumably for a house lot and meadowlands. On February 21, 1676/7, he was granted another 60 acres, which was “allowed to go down to the Great River”. Turning to his account with John Pynchon, the lord and master of Suffield as well as Quaboag, we find an entry on April 29, 1678: “To the purchase of Suffield 01 00 00″. This probably was the price paid for his first grant. On May 19, 1679, Samuel was allowed an additional grant of land”.

Samuel was a member of the first Board of Selectmen of Suffield, and was re-elected for many years. On November 17, 1679, he was appointed to a committee to raise a house for Reverend John Younglove at Suffield. On September 27, 1681, at the County Court held at Springfield, Samuel Sr. took his oath as a freeman of the colony. A list of inhabitants with privileges of voting in town affairs issued on March 9, 1681/2, contains the name of Sergeant Samuel Kent. At a town meeting held on April 6, 1685, he was allowed a special privilege:

“Granted: by a full and clear vote unto Serj. Samuel Kent, liberty to dig a well, about a rod and a halfe, or town rod without his front fence, in ye street, provided: he shall secure it at all times, from all damages, that may come thereby”.

In 1686, Samuel sold his rights in Brookfield to John Scott Sr. of Suffield, whose sons Ebenezer and William in 1703, sold the same to Thomas Barnes of Brookfield.

An incident which seems to confirm the impression that Samuel Kent, like the other Quaboag planters, was a man of strong conviction, occurred in 1686. In the records of the county court session held at Northampton on March 30, 1686, the following:

“Samuel Kent of Suffield having been bound over to this Court for raising or abetting a mutiny and riotous behavior at Suffield, and himself very much active in such carriages, besides several unworthy speeches, as in a high and violent manner, saying, that all persons might vote at the town meeting, in choice of townsmen, and constable, etc., That the laws of the government some of them were not worth a chip, and being present when there was a tumult and disorder in the town meeting, abetting said non-voters saying they might vote, with offense and evil carriages and speeches. This Court judge high abusive carriages, tending to breaking of order, and in reality a breach of order, in reality a breach of law and grievous violation of his religious tye, which is upon him, have adjudged the said Kent to pay as a fine to the county treasurer, the full sum of 5 pounds and charges of witnesses and other wise, and the money to pay forthwith, or to give good security”.

This passage is self-explanatory and requires no further comment except to note that here was a pioneer suffragist, with ideas way ahead of his time.

Frances Kent, wife of Samuel, died at Suffield on August 10, 1683. He died at Springfield on February 2, 1690/1, and soon after, on February 28, 1690/1, his son Samuel Kent Jr. settled his father’s account with John Pynchon. There is no court record of an estate settlement.

The four children of Samuel Sr. were young at the time of their removal to Quaboag in 1671, the eldest, Sarah, being only 14. Presumably, they were all present in the Ayres Tavern during the siege, and probably all survived to remove to Suffield with their parents.