Gent, Thomas (d.1593) (DNB00)

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GENT, Sir THOMAS (d. 1593), judge, was the eldest or only son of William Gent, lord of the manor of Moyns, Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, of ancient family, by Agnes, daughter and coheiress of Thomas Carr of Great Thurlow, Suffolk. He was educated at Cambridge, probably at Christ's College, where one ‘Gent’ matriculated as a pensioner in 1548. He entered at the Middle Temple, and was called to the bar, and was Lent reader there in 1571 and 1574. He was appointed on 2 April 1571 to the lucrative office of steward of all the courts of Edward de Vere, earl of Oxford. In the parliament which met on 2 April 1571 he sat for Malden, became a serjeant-at-law on 2 June 1584, and was appointed a baron of the exchequer on or before 1 Feb. 1586, on which day a commission of oyer and terminer for Suffolk in the ‘Baga de Secretis’ contains his name as a judge. Dugdale wrongly dates his elevation 28 June 1588. A special exemption was made in his favour from the act 33 Hen. VIII, c. 24, which forbade a judge from acting as a justice of assize in his own county. He was a member of the high commission in causes ecclesiastical, and appears to have been on circuit in Devonshire in February 1592 (Green, Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1591–4). He died in January 1593, and was buried at Steeple Bumpstead. He married twice, first, Elizabeth, who was only daughter and heiress of Sir John Swallow of Bocking, and was buried at Steeple Bumpstead on 12 May 1585, by whom he had seven sons and five daughters; and second, in April 1586, Elizabeth, widow of Roger Hogeson of London, and sister of Morgan Robyns, by whom he had no issue. His arms are engraved in Dugdale's ‘Orig. Jurid.’ p. 227, from a window in the Middle Temple Hall. His character is highly praised by Newton in his ‘Encomia.’

[Baga de Secretis; Burke's Landed Gentry, 1858; Cal. Chanc. Proc. temp. Eliz. i. 383, 384; Dugdale's Origines Juridiciales and Chron. Ser.; Foss's Judges of England; Harl. Misc. ed. Malham, ii. 18; Morant's Essex, ii. 336, 344, 354; Newcourt's Repert., ii. 62; Newton's Encomia, p. 121; Willis's Not. Parl. iii. 91; Wright's Essex, i. 632–4; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.]

J. A. H.