Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Kent, Nathaniel

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KENT, NATHANIEL (1737–1810), land valuer and agriculturist, born in 1737, was first employed in the diplomatic service as secretary to Sir James Porter at Brussels. During his stay there he set himself to study the husbandry of the Austrian Netherlands, which was at that time held to be the best in Europe. Some of Kent's letters to Sir James Porter dated 1765 and 1766 are in Brit. Mus. MS. Egerton 2157. Returning to England in 1766, he drew up an account of Flemish husbandry at the request of Sir John Cust, speaker of the House of Commons, and was persuaded by him to quit diplomacy and devote himself to agriculture. He shortly afterwards made the valuable acquaintance of Benjamin Stillingfleet [q. v.] the naturalist. Kent published in 1775 ‘Hints to Gentlemen of Landed Property,’ London, 8vo (3rd edit. 1793), containing, among other valuable suggestions, some designs for labourers' cottages, which were greatly in advance of his time (Donaldson, Agricult. Biog. p. 59). The book brought him employment on a large scale as an estate agent and land valuer, and he did much to improve English methods of land management (cf. Gent. Mag. 1811, pt. i. p. 182). His work lay chiefly in Norfolk, the farmers of which county presented him in 1808 with a silver goblet in acknowledgment of his services to agriculture, but he also suggested extensive embankments in Lincolnshire, which were successfully executed. Besides the ‘Hints’ he contributed ‘A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Norfolk’ to the ‘Survey’ issued by the board of agriculture in 1794, with supplementary remarks, Norwich, 1796, and several papers to vols. iv. v. and vi. of Hunter's ‘Georgical Essays,’ York, 1803. Kent was for a short time bailiff of George III's farm in the Great Park at Windsor. Particulars concerning the king's farm, communicated by him to the Society of Arts in 1798, were subsequently published in pamphlet form. He died of apoplexy at Fulham, Middlesex, 10 Oct. 1810.

Another Nathaniel Kent (fl. 1730), scholar, born at Weedon, Northamptonshire, was educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge. He proceeded B.A. 1729, A.M. 1733, and became a fellow of King's College. In 1744 he was for a time deranged, but recovered, and in 1748 was head-master of Wisbech school, and afterwards curate of Kersey in Suffolk. While at Cambridge he published ‘Excerpta quædam ex Luciani Samosatensis Operibus. In usum Tyronum,’ Cambridge, 1730, 8vo. Latin notes and a Latin version accompanied the text. The work was several times reprinted in London; the third edition ‘prioribus auctior et emendatior’ appeared in 1757; another ed. 1788.

[For the land valuer see Gent. Mag. 1810, pt. ii. pp. 396, 452; Kent's books in Brit. Mus. Cat.; and authorities quoted; for the scholar see Harwood's Alumni Etonenses, p. 315; Cat. of Cambridge Graduates; Cooper's Memorials of Cambridge, i. 229; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

R. B.