The Gens (or Jennys) family were a well to do family from Red Street in Southfleet (they had also been landowners there in the 15th century). When Robert Gens died in 1576 he owned Stocks Farm (Stockhill) in Church Road, Middle Farm and Hartley Wood. As he held some of the land directly from the Queen as chief lord, this meant that an "Inquisition Post Mortem" was held, where the jury had to discover what land if any was held of the queen. It appears he may have acquired his Hartley estate through marriage. He leaves his Hartley estate to his son Nicholas, who died aged 15 in 1579. The estates at Hartley then descended to his elder brother James, who sells Middle Farm to Richard Best in 1589.
The family tree of the Gens family is important because a conveyance of a neighbouring estate in 1633 shows that James's descendants were still the owners of Stocks Farm. By 1642 it appears it had been sold by an Alexander and Marian Skeath to John Edwards. But thus far I cannot link the Skeaths and the Gens families.
Robert Gens probably married Dorothy Swan in 1545, a feet of fine suggests that Dorothy's father Thomas (d 1570) gave the couple land at Hartley and elsewhere as part of a marriage settlement. Robert had 5 children that we know about:
- Joyce Gens, married (1) ____ Bassett; (2) Simon Father (at Westerham 8.9.1577)
- James Gens (christened at Southfleet 15.3.1559, died 1593, probate of will 1.4.1593)
Children of James and his wife
- Christopher (christened at Westerham
27.3.1580, buried at Westerham 13.9.1605), married to Elizabeth (d 1616 CKS will)
- Joyce (christened at Westerham 20.7.1583 sic, buried at Westerham 17.7.1583)
- John (christened at Westerham 6.11.1585)
- Agnes (alias Bassett)
- Robert Gens (christened at Southfleet 22.11.1563, bur Southfleet 6.12.1563)
- Nicholas Gens (christened at Southfleet 28.2.1565, bur Northfleet 30.4.1579)
- Edward Gens (christened at Southfleet 26.9.1568)
Robert was buried at Southfleet on 24 December 1575, just after his wife Dorothy, who went to the same churchyard on 13 August 1575.
Inquisition Post Mortem of Robert Gens, 1576
Document Reference National Archives TNA/C142/173/98 or TNA/WARD 7/16/11
Inquisition held at Maidstone, 20th March 18 Elizabeth (1576) before Jasper Heale, escheator of the lady Queen in the said county.... to inquire after the death of Robert Gens yeoman deceased, by the oaths of Thomas Reynolds etc.... who, sworn in and charged say on their oaths that the said Robert Gens...... long before his death and on the day of his death was seized in his demesne as of fee of and in (1 messuage and 8 acres in Southfleet where he lived; 3 cottages and 4 acres in Southfleet). And also of and in 1 messuage or tenement called Stockhill with 20 acres of arable land in the parish of Hartley in the said county of Kent, now or recently in the occupation of Henry Ashedowne. And of and in one field called Northfelde containing an estimated 80 acres of land, furze and heath in the parish of Hartley, formerly being parcel of the manor of Hartley. And of and in one other tenement with 30 acres of land, arable land and 20 acres of furze and heath in the said parish of Hartley, in which tenement William Heywarde lives.... (also lands at Stockhill in Oxted, Surrey).... being so seized thereof he died so seized. And further the said jurors say on their oaths ..... that the said messuage called Stockhill with the appurtenances in the parish of Hartley aforesaid is held of, and on the day on which Robert Gens died was held of Richard Colepeper esq. as of the said manor of Hartley in socage for fealty and a rent of 8s 4d. And it is worth 30s annually in all revenues besides expenses. And that the said tenement in Hartley with the appurtenances held by William Heywarde aforesaid is held of the said Richard Colepeper esq. as of his said manor of Hartley in socage for fealty and a rent of 20s 10d and is worth £4 pa. in all revenues besides expenses. Which all and singular premises seized above were and from the time when memory of man runneth not to the contrary, always were of the nature and tenure of gavelkind and partiable between heirs male of the said Robert Gens, according to the custom of the county of Kent. And further they say on their oaths that the said field called Northfelde in the parish of Hartley aforesaid is held in chief from the said lady Queen for a 100th part of a knight's fee, and is valued at 50s pa. in all revenues besides expenses..... And they further say that the said Robert Gens died on 24th November last (1575). And that James Gens, Nicholas Gens, and Edward Gens are his sons and heirs for all the said lands etc. expressed and declared to be of the nature of gavelkind..... And that James Gens is sole son and heir for all the others.
Will of Robert Gens, yeoman 1576
Document Reference National Archives TNA/PROB11/58
In the name of God, Amen. The twentieth of November 1575. I Robert Gens of Southfleet in the county of Kent, yeoman, being whole of body and of good and perfect memory (thanks be to God) do make and ordain this my present testament and last will, in manner and form following: That is to say, first of all I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God, my only Saviour and Redeemer. And my body to be buried in the parish Church of Southfleete aforesaid, next unto my wife. Item I give and bequeath to my son James my land at Southay called Stockee[..]. Item I give and bequeath to my son James all my lands and tenements in Southflete aforesaid. Also I bequeath to my son Nicholas all my lands and tenements, being in the parish of Harteley in the county of Kent aforesaid. Also I give and bequeath to my son Edward all the residue of my lands and tenements being in the county of Surrey aforesaid. And if it happen any of my said sons to decease without any issue of their bodies lawfully begotten. Then I will that the lands of him so deceased shall descend to the next brother. Item I give and bequeath to my said son James all my household stuff, now being in my dwelling house at Redstrete. Also I will that all the residue of my goods movable and immovable, I will shall be equally divided between my sons Nicholas and Edward towards their bringing up at school. And to remain in the hands of James Launce and Thomas Walter, whom I make my executors. And my brother William Swan and James Crypes my overseers. Also I will to the parish Church of Southflete the sum of 6s 8d. Witness of this present will: John Filotine? (S), Martyn Hadlow (X), Thomas Shirwood (X) with others.
Proved at London2 June 1576