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* Dents of Spennymoor/Arkengarthdale, UK*

Updated May 1, 2006

Allegedly the Dents are the decendants of one 'Dent the Tooth' who served as William the Conqueror's dentist. As reward for his
loyal service Tooth was given castles and land in the newly conquered England, which were subsequently lost in a game of dominos by one of Tooth's decendants a few centuries later. Or so my great-grandfather Elijah Nicholson Dent used to say anyway. Sadly there is no record of Tooth or his kin in the Domesday Book...
The earliest trace of my family is the christening of Henry Dent in Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire on May 18th 1812. He had a brother, Thomas, christened there on November 15th of the following year. There parents were Charles and Mary who were living in Langthwaite at this time, where Charles worked as a lead miner. There were many other Dents living in the Arkengarthdale Parish at this time, though none were necessarily direct relatives of my branch. A grave to the memory of Anthony and Barbara Dent stands in the grave yard of the church at Langthwaite.
Sometime during the 1820s or 30s the family moved to the Spennymoor area (almost certainly to find work on the coal fields) where Henry was married to an Elizabeth and they had at least four children together. He remarried in 1846 to Alice Nicholson (who had given birth to an illigitimate son that same year)and had another ten children, the oldest of which was Elijah Nicholson Dent.
At the age of 26 Elijah married Sussanah Gibson and they had five children together: Sussanah (b. 1877),Alice (b. 1882), Henry (b. 1883), Alexander Gibson (b. 1891) and Elizabeth (b. 1894)
Susanah married Solomon Heslop whilst Alice married Matt Horner. Alex married Ellen Scott and undertook a career as a cobbler. Elizabeth most likely died in infancy.
In 1906 Henry married Maria Matthews (who was 6 months pregnant at the time.) Maria was the daughter of Obadiah Matthews and Ellen Gibson, the sister of Henry's mother, making Henry and Maria cousins (possibly explaining the maddness in our side of the family!)
It was always propagated that Maria died in childbirth with my great grandfather, Elijah Nicholson, in 1906. However, we now know that she was still living, along with another son, John Marshall, two years later. As both Maria and John died in June of 1908, it seems more likely that they died together in an accident or as the result of an infectious disease.
After his mother's death young Elijah was sent to live with his grandfather and namesake who cared for him for 14 years, untill he was old enough to work and thus go back to his father. Allegedly Elijah Nicholson I suffered a stroke whilst overcome with emotion at the news of the First World War's end and suffered a stroke. He was then looked after in the cuboard-under-the-stairs for several years before dying in 1921, though date-wise this does not quite tally with the story abouth him carring for his grandson for 14 years.
Henry, meanwhile had married again, this time to his house keeper Issabela Brown and they had five subsequent children: Henry and Hannah (who both died in infancy) followed by Issabella (b.1915), Alice (b.1816) and Susannah (b.1925.) When the couple celebrated their Golden Wedding Aniversary in 1962 questions were raised about the validity of their marriage, the most likely explanation
being that Bella was not legally seperated from her first husband, divorce being uncommon in those days.
In 1830 Elijah Nicholson married Margaret Thomas and together they had seven children, one of whom was Eric Dent, my grandfather, with whom I completed this research over the past few years.

Anyone who thinks they may be related or is simply iterested feel free to contact me...

Fraser Welsh

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Family Photos

  • Wedding of Henry and Maria, 1906 (50 KB)
    Obadiah Matthews (Maria's father), Elijah Nicholson Dent and Henry Dent
  • Elijah Nicholson Dent - Maternal Line c1906 (62 KB)
    Ellen Matthews (nee Gibson), Maria Dent (nee Matthews), Baby Elijah and Ellen's mother
  • Sussanah Dent (nee Gibson) (34 KB)
    Wife of Elijah Nicholson Dent. Daughter of Alexander Gibson. In 1906 her son Henry married her niece Maria Matthews, daughter of her sister Ellien.
  • Matthews Family (98 KB)
    At the front Obadiah and Ellen Matthews. Around them 12 of their children and (possibly) grand-children. Including, in no particular order: Elijah, Barbara, Issabell, Mary, William, Alex, Simion, Benjamin and Archie. They also had Maria (my 2nd great grandmother) died in 1908 and John Naisbett who died in the first world war.
  • Elijah, Susanah and Alice (19 KB)
    Elijah Nicholson Dent with his aunts Susanah Heslop and Alice Horner. Possibly taken at Durham Big Meeting.
  • Margaret Dent (nee Thomas) 1910 - 1986 (16 KB)
    My great-grandmother Margaret Dent, wife of Elijah Nicholson and mother of Harry, Allan, John, Margaret, Eric, Ronald and Thomas.
  • Alexander Gibson Dent (44 KB)
    Alexander 'Alex' Dent son of Elijah Nicholson Dent. Worked as a cobbler in Spennymoor.

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