CFHS code : AL50 and AL51

Parish : St Andrew the Less

Inscription : In loving remembrance of Samuel son of Samuel and Maria Gentle died 1885 I LM O our boy HUBERT GENTLE died in action in France Sep 27 1918 aged 30 footstone SG 1885AHG 1902 OBG 1917 MSG 1932 kerbs: ILRMO / SAMUEL son of / SAMUEL and MARIA GENTLE / d 1885

Monument : Headstone/Kerb stones

Above information from Cambridge Family History Society Survey

Lat Lon : 52.204079, 0.13765896 – click here for location

The monument after restoration.
The monument after restoration.

Monument

This tall sandstone headstone, with smaller second headstone and footstone, with kerb stones, which was restored in January 2015, is located in the parish area of St Andrew the Less. It is situated at the far north end of the cemetery, close to the Norfolk Street gate, to the left of the path as you enter.

Inscription

[headstone ‒ west face: crenelated crown with oak leaves:]
‘In loving remembrance of Samuel son of Samuel & Maria Gentle
died [illeg] [1885] [remainder illegible]’

‘Also of Alfred Harvey Gentle
born Dec 22 1896 died Jan 9 1902’
“Though lost to sight, to memory dear”

‘Also of our dearly loved son Owen Beaumont Gentle
fallen in action in France Sep 14 1917 aged 22 years.”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

[headstone ‒ east face:]
‘In affectionate remembrance of Maria Scott Gentle
wife of Samuel Gentle.
entered into rest Jan. 20 1932 aged 76 years.’
“Life’s race well run. Life’s work well done.Then cometh the rest.”

‘Also Samuel Gentle who joined the above his beloved
on October 4 1937 aged 78 years.’

[small headstone ‒ west face:]
‘In loving memory of our boy Hubert Gentle
killed in action in France Sep 27 1918 aged 30 years’
“We shall meet beyond the river, where war shall wage no more.”

[footstone ‒ east face:]
SG 1885. / AHG 1902. / OBG 1917. / MSG 1932.
[kerb stones blank]

Hubert Gentle. 1st Bt. Grenadier Guards
Hubert Gentle. 1st Bt. Grenadier Guards

Hubert Gentle (1888–1918)WW1 soldier – see also Life Story page

Hubert was born in 1888 in Cambridge. He was one of twelve children born to Samuel Gentle and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont). His father was a coal merchant, carter and haulage contractor. Hubert followed his father into the haulage business. The family grew up at 1 Paradise Street, 85a and then 95a East Road, Cambridge. Hubert enlisted as Private (27968), 1st Battalion, the Grenadier Guards. The Grenadiers fought the battle of the Canal du Nord at Cambrai in France. The battle took place around a sugar beet factory. It was there that Hubert was killed in action on 27 September 1918 less than two months before the end of the War. He was entitled to the Victory medal and the British War medal. His younger brother, Owen Beaumont Gentle (1895–1917), was also a casualty of the War. Hubert’s family was devastated by the death of both Hubert and his younger brother, Owen.

A number of the younger family members travelled to France shortly after the war ended to visit their graves at the time of the opening of the Menin Gate (memorial to the missing) at Ypres, Belgium. Their descendants still have several treasure boxes containing momentoes of the two brothers. Hubert’s younger sister, Martha, named her son, Donald Roderick Hubert Mackay, remembering her brother.

Samuel Gentle
Samuel Gentle

Samuel Gentle, snr (1859‒1937)

Samuel was born in 1859 in Harlton, Cambridgeshire. He was one of at least eight children born to Daniel Gentle and Elizabeth Gentle (née Frisby). His father was initially an agricultural labourer before becoming a grocer. Daniel brought up his family including Samuel in Harlton and then in Trumpington. He became a carter like his two older brothers (Arthur and Daniel). In 1879 Samuel married Maria Scott Beaumont in Cambridge. The couple had twelve children: Daniel (1881‒1954); Samuel (1884‒85), Walter Sidney (1886‒1942), Hubert (1888‒1918), Gertrude (1889‒1978), Constance (1890‒1975), Martha (1892‒1967), Kate (1893‒1965), Owen Beaumont (1895‒1917), Alfred Harvey (1896‒1902), and Marion Frisby (1902‒85).

The family lived at 1 Paradise Street, then at 85a East Road and finally at 95a East Road. 85 East Road was where Samuel started his own carting and haulage business. Some of his children were his business assistants including Gertrude, Martha, Kate and Owen. He used to deliver coal and other items around Cambridge from East road.

MACKAYS, 85 EAST ROAD

Martha Mackay
Martha Mackay

Samuel’s daughter, Martha, married a Duncan Mackay (c1884‒1936). In June 1912 Duncan’s father, Donald Mackay (c1862‒1943), said to the owner of Alsop & Sons wheelwright business (which was also based at 85 East Road directly next to Samuel Gentle’s business): “A fine business you have here, I would like to buy it.” The deal was struck with a handshake over the anvil and Duncan started his own family business, Mackays. The business had a lot of forges and blacksmiths, and a lot of machinery that made the workshops very versatile and could turn their hand to most things. The big lathe that the firm owned, which did a lot of the work, was an old Dean, Smith & Grace, and is now in the Cambridge Museum of Technology. Mackays’ workshops were involved in making essential parts for the First World War effort. The workshops and machinery were used to manufacture parts for the equipment used on the battlefields.

But when the Second World War came round, the War Office was quick to turn Mackays into an armaments factory. They were making items such as the wheels for tanks and equipment for launching gliders. Probably the most famous thing that was developed in the workshops was the Sommerfeld runway. Duncan’s son, Donald Mackay (1925‒), became Mr Sommerfeld’s assistant at the start of the war. He helped him to produce the prototypes of the metal runways that were rolled out in the desert at El Alamein, Egypt and allowed the spitfire airplanes to land almost anywhere. On D-day it was a Sommerfeld runway that was rolled out behind the Normandy beaches and allowed the allies to have planes landing supplies within 24 hours of the first landings. — Mackays is still based at 85 East Road today over a hundred years later.

It is thought by the family that at around the same time Duncan bought Alsop & Sons he also bought the neighbouring house, 85a East Road, from his father-in-law. It was then that Samuel Gentle moved from 85a to 95 East Road where he had a yard as well as a small house. In addition, Samuel used to have a small holding where he used to keep his horses. He eventually sold this small holding to Marshalls for their first airport. It then became the football ground for Cambridge United when Marshalls moved to their new site on Newmarket Road.

Before his retirement Samuel was involved in the carting of all the books from the old University Library (at the Old Schools, Trinity Lane) to the new one (on West Road) in 1934. He was probably a sub-contractor to the company, Eaden Lilley & Co, who was tasked with the job. Eaden Lilley & Co probably had every carting contractor in Cambridge working on the job including Samuel. Samuel would have had several men working on it as he had a number of horses and carts. It was a huge undertaking involving over a million items and made Samuel enough money to be able to retire.

Samuel also became a County Councillor, and a Trustee of the Methodist Tabernacle in Newmarket Road. Samuel was very much against the consumption of alcohol and he used his wealth to buy properties in Cambridge. He would then re-sell them but not before adding a restrictive covenant into the deeds stating that alcohol was not to be traded on the property. Today, there are still properties in Cambridge, which cannot be used for trading in alcohol due to Samuel’s restrictive covenants. Samuel died on 4 October 1937 in Cambridge.

Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont) (1855‒1932)

Maria was born in 1855 in Trumpington, Cambridgeshire. She was one of eight children born to Alfred Beaumont and Martha Beaumont (née Smith). Her father was an agricultural labourer, her mother was a laundress. The family grew up in Workhouse Yard, Trumpington. When Maria was 10 years old her father died. Her mother remarried to a James Lloyd, another agricultural labourer. Maria also became a laundress like her mother. She married Samuel Gentle in 1879 in Cambridge. The couple had twelve children: Daniel (1881‒1954); Samuel (1884‒85), Walter Sidney (1886‒1942), Hubert (1888‒1918), Gertrude (1889‒1978), Constance (1890‒1975), Martha (1892‒1967), Kate (1893‒1965), Owen Beaumont (1895‒1917), Alfred Harvey (1896‒1902), and Marion Frisby (1902‒85). Maria died on 20 January 1932 in Cambridge.

Samuel Gentle, jnr (1884‒1885)

The younger Samuel was born in 1884 in Cambridge. He was one of twelve children born to Samuel Gentle senior and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont). Samuel died in infancy in 1885 in Cambridge.

Alfred Harvey Gentle (1896‒1902)

Alfred was born on 22 December 1896 in Cambridge. He was also known as Alfie. He was one of twelve children born to Samuel Gentle senior and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont). He died in childhood on 5 January 1902 at 85 East Road, in Cambridge.

Owen Beaumont Gentle (1895‒1917)WW1 soldier – see also Life Story page

Owen was born in 1895 in Cambridge. He was one of twelve children born to Samuel Gentle and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont). His father was a coal merchant, carter and haulage contractor. The family grew up at 1 Paradise Street, 85a and then 95a East Road, Cambridge. Owen was an assistant in his father’s business. He enlisted in Cambridge as Gunner (68332) in the 244th Siege Battery, the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was killed in action at Passchendaele on 14 September 1917. He was entitled to the Victory medal and the British War medal.

Sources:
War Graves Photographic Project
War Graves Photographic Project
www.forces-war-records.co.uk
www.ancestry.co.uk
Census returns for England: 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914–1919
Web: International, Find A Grave Index
Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 10 January 1902
Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 11 October 1918
Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 18 October 1918
University Library, Cambridge, books
Mackay Co.

Further reading: Memories from the Cambridge Firm of D. Mackay in our Centenary Year (Histon, Cambs: Print-Out, 2012)

Communications from Duncan MacKay, great grandson of Samuel Gentle and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont)

By Emma Easterbrook and Ian Bent

Alfred Harvey Gentle; Hubert Gentle; Maria Scott Gentle; Owen Beaumont Gentle; Samuel Gentle