The name Gentle was not associated with Steeple Morden in the past and there are only six parish register entries prior to 1850 and certainly no established families of that name. However, Guilden Morden and Ashwell were definite familial centres for Gentles.
Thomas Gentle was baptised at Ashwell on 7 July 1817 and his parents were James and Elizabeth Gentle nee Kirby, who were both born in Ashwell and in later life lived in Gardiners Lane. On 27 October 1837, at Ashwell, Thomas married Eliza Topham, who had been born at Baldock in 1819 and baptised there 11 April 1819. Thomas and Eliza soon started a family, with Eliza born 1839, Thomas born 1841, James born 1844, John born 1846 (died 1854 age 7 buried at Steeple Morden) and Mary born 1850 (died 1854 age 4 buried at Steeple Morden). All the children were born and baptised in Ashwell.
Late in 1850 or early 1851 Thomas took the tenancy of the public house on the corner of Station Road and Ashwell Road, which had just been bought by E K & H Fordham, brewers of Ashwell. After their move to Steeple Morden three more children came along and all were baptised at Steeple Morden, namely George in 1852 and more of him later, William in 1856 and finally a second John in 1862 (died 1874 age 12 buried at Steeple Morden).
Thomas died age 48 in 1865 and was buried at Steeple Morden on 8 August 1865.
Eliza carried on running the beer house and raised her children there. In later years, certainly by 1891 she had as a helper her grand-daughter Elizabeth, then aged 12 and daughter of George of Royston. An arrangement, which the Justices considered unsatisfactory in 1895, especially as Eliza was almost totally deaf. By the following year she had given up the licence and retired to a cottage in Church Street. She died in 1903 aged 86 at the home of her son James at St Neots and was returned to Steeple Morden for burial on 22 December.
For more about the beerhouse, which at this time was not called The Plough, that came later, and the sad circumstances that resulted in Eliza being “compulsorily retired”: The Plough PH
George had been born in 1852, the first of Thomas and Eliza’a children to be born at the beerhouse in Steeple Morden. He married Naomi Gray on 3 February 1872 at Steeple Morden Church. Naomi lived just up the road at The Old Housen, which presumably helped with courting as their first child Charles came in a bit of a rush and was baptised at Steeple Morden on 17 March 1872. Charles and Naomi then headed for London to make their fortune and when second child Frederic was baptised at Steeple Morden on 9 August 1874 the family were described as “of London” and George gave his occupation as railway servant.
The following year they moved to Royston to a house in Gower Road, which was in the parish of Kneesworth in those days, so they are often described as of Kneesworth in records. George was a horse shunter at Royston Station. Before the days of the little diesel shunters, horses were used to move goods wagons about. The family continued to grow in the small two and two down “railway cottage”. Eliza born 1875, John George 1877, Thomas 1883, Mary Florence 1884, George Ernest 1886, Ada Naomi 1888 and finally Maud born 6 September 1890.
Steeple Morden Parish Register Entries for Gentle
|28 Sep 1811||John Gentle son of Edward & Ann|
|12 Dec 1852||George Gentle son of Thomas & Eliza publican|
|3 Feb 1856||William Gentle son of Thomas & Eliza publican|
|29 Apr 1860||John Gentle son of Thomas & Betsy lab|
|1 Jun 1862||John Gentle son of Thomas & Eliza publican|
|21 Jan 1866||Eliza Ann Gentle dau of Amy Pearse sw|
|17 Mar 1872||Charles Gentle son of George & Naomi lab|
|9 Aug 1874||Frederic Gentle son of George & Naomi of London railway servant|
|20 Apr 1924||Bessie May Gentle dau of Walter & Lillia Rose of
Station Cottages, Odsey motor car driver in private service
|18 Sep 1859||Thomas Gentel (sic) bac otp
Betsy Webb sp otp
|21 Jan 1872||George Gentle bac otp
Naomi Gray sp otp
Ist date, as only one given
|16 Sep 1917||John George Moule bac otp
Rosa Gentle sp of Guilden Morden
|28 Mar 1920||Edward Saville bac otp
Susan Gentle sp of Guilden Morden
|23 Oct 1709||Samuel Gentle & Elizabeth Harvey|
|9 Mar 1765||Harradine Gray (x) bac otp
Elizabeth Gentle (x) sp otp
Wits: Alexander Numan John Sharp
|8 May 1809||Richard Gentile (sic) (x) bac otp
Sarah Watts (x) sp otp
Wits: John Morris Samuel Day
|21 Nov 1809||Edward Gentle (x) bac of Ashwell
Ann Parker (x) sp otp
Wits: Smith Hitch Jas Chessum
|1 Oct 1859||Thomas Gentle full age bac lab Steeple Morden Thomas Gentle lab
Betsy Webb (x) full age sp —- Steeple Morden William Webb lab
Wits: William Ball (x) Susan Ball (x)
|3 Feb 1872||George Gentle 20 bac lab Steeple Morden Thomas Gentle lab
Naomi Gray 21 sp —- Steeple Morden William Gray lab
Wits: William Oyston (x) Maria Matthews
|11 Jan 1839||Elisabeth Gentle of Ashwell 84|
|21 Jun 1854||Mary Gentle 4|
|28 Jul 1854||John Gentle 7|
|6 Nov 1862||Betsy Gentle 20|
|8 Aug 1865||Thomas Gentle 48|
|4 Dec 1874||John Gentle 12|
|10 Sep 1875||Thomas Gentle 35|
|22 Oct 1884||Florence Gentle 6 mos|
|22 Dec 1903||Eliza Gentle of St Neots 86|
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Last Updated on April 20, 2021