The Gentry is a history of England told through its families. This website contains family trees, a few maps and many images illustrating some of the background to the twelve families who carry the story of England in the book.

Read a sample chapter about Sir John Oglander, the 17th-century squire of Nunwell in the Isle of Wight, his life and family, his dreams and ambitions and the tragedies that struck him....

Percyvall Hart's Tomb

The monument to Percyvall Hart, a deep Tory squire from Lullingstone in Kent, is a perfect embodiment of the world of the Tory non-Whig gentry at the beginning of the 18th century. Many of Oliver le Neve’s friends would have sympathised with the careful, slightly pompous and obscurely offended tone of the sentiments Hart had inscribed in his tomb. He couldn't bear the Hanoverians or their Whig friends, their money or their underhand politicking, and so in 1738 had himself buried in drawing room gothick. It was a full decade before Horace Walpole started on Strawberry Hill and may well be either the first Gothick revival piece of architecture in England, or maybe the very last whimper of the Middle Ages. It certainly marks the beginning of the Tory squire as someone who has lost touch with the driving impulses of the kingdom.

(With many thanks to John Goodall for the photograph)

 In Memory of

PERCYVALL HART Esqr

The munificent Repairer and beautifier

Of this Church

Himself a true Lover of the Church of England

And Representative of this County

in the last two Parliaments of her most Pious Majesty

QUEEN ANNE:

During which time the Church and Clergy received

Greater Tokens of Royal Bounty

than from the Reformation to her time,

or Since to this day.

MHART’S steady Attachment to the

OLD ENGLISH CONSTITUTION

Disqualified him from sitting any more

In parliament:

Abhorring all Venality,

And scorning as much to buy the People’s Voices,

As to sell his own

Conscious of having always preferred

The interest of Great Britain

To that of any Foreign State,

He passed the remainder of his Life

In Hospitable Retirement;

With as much Tranquillity as possible,

Under the Declension, both of his native Health,

And that of his Native Country;

Which, when he could not serve

He Could not but deplore.

The Curious inspector of these Monuments

Will see a short Account of

An Ancient Family

For more than four Centuries;

Contented with a moderate Estate,

Not wasted by Luxury,

Nor increased by Avarice.

May their Posterity,

Emulating their Virtues,

Long enjoy their Possessions.

PERCYVALL HART Esqwas Baptized 7th of May 1666

And Buryed November 6th 1738

Mrs SARAH HART Wife of PERCYVALL HART Esqr

Was Buryed November 14th 1720