The names Valentine and Broughton link our family history back to Christopher Sentance in the 16th century. Though the line of descent is not exactly clear, Christopher's grandson Thomas married Ann Broughton, and they had a son called Broughton (1656-1704). Valentine Sentance (d.1741) was either Broughton' brother or his son. The fact that Valentine named his first son Broughton provides a strong link back to Thomas and Ann and hence back to Christopher.

Valentine's birth details are unclear, perhaps due to poor record-keeping during the Civil War. He married twice, initially to Mary, and then – after she died in 1721 – to Anne Tooley. From the first marriage there were seven children – Catherine (b. 1706), Broughton (b. 1708), William (b. 1711), Valentine (b. 1713), John (b. 1715), Elizabeth (b.1718) and Thomas (b.1720). Both Elizabeth and Thomas died in infancy, which may reflect Mary’s failing health. Valentine and Anne had a further daughter together – Mary, born in 1724.  

Broughton (b. 1708), Valentine’s eldest son, is our ancestor. And he certainly led a busy life! He appears to have eight children, with six different mothers, not all of whom he was married to! We are descended from his eldest son – Valentine – who was the second child from his first (and definitely legitimate!) marriage, to Rebecca Tomason. Broughton and Rebecca were married in London in 1738, at St Katherine by the Tower. Quite how Broughton ended up in London after his ancestors had lived within a few miles from Grantham for nearly two centuries is unclear, though the 18th century was a time of great economic change! He and Rebecca then moved back to the Grantham area. Valentine was born in Folkingham (about 10 miles east of Grantham), and the family eventually settled in Boothby Pagnell – about 5 miles south of Grantham, where most of Broughton’s other children were born.

It is not clear when Broughton died, but his youngest child, Luke Sentance, was born in 1762 in Spalding (just three years after Broughton fathered a son Thomas in Boothby Pagnell!) However, our family story continues with his son Valentine, who had a more stable marital life!

Valentine Sentance was born in 1741 in Folkingham, Lincolnshire, the very same year that his grandfather of the same name died. He was baptised on 11 September, and grew up with his family in Boothby Pagnall. It was there that he married Mary Essington on 6 November 1764. Mary was the daughter of Seth Essington and Anne Glenn.

Valentine and Mary had nine children, all born in Boothby Pagnell: Rebecca (b.1765); Sarah (b. 1767); William (b. 1769); Susannah (b. 1771); Joseph (b. 1774); John (b. 1776); James (b. 1778); and Ann (b. 1783). William is our ancestor (Andrew's great-great-great-grandfather) and there are more details about him below. Of the other children:

William Sentance, Mary Taylor and Ann Winter

William Sentance, the third child and the oldest son of Valentine (1741-1809), was born in 1769 at Boothby Pagnell, and was christened there on 15 May.

He was born into a country which was undergoing radical social and economic change. In the mid-18th century, the industrial revolution got underway, but perhaps more significantly for the area around Grantham there had already been significant changes in agriculture and farming in the preceding century. Farming land had been enclosed, creating larger plots which could be farmed more intensively. Machinery was beginning to be used in agriculture – such as seed drills, ploughs, and later threshing machines. These developments allowed food production to continue to increase to sustain a larger population and to feed an industrial workforce.

This process of change would continue through the remainder of the 18th and 19th centuries and would form the backdrop of the lives of William and his descendents. Grantham would become an industrial town, a thriving manufacturing centre for agricultural machinery and vehicles, linked to London and the industrial north by the Great Northern Railway in the mid-19th century. In 1801, Grantham had a population of just over 4,000 people. By 1841, this had doubled to over 8,000 and by 1871 it had tripled to over 13,000. William made his full contribution to this process of population growth, as he had a total of eighteen children by his two marriages, all but one of whom survived infancy! Changes in the system of agriculture around Grantham, and the pattern of employment opportunities, may also have been responsible for William’s moves early in his married life.

William married Mary Taylor at Boothby Pagnell on 14 May 1793, and their first son John was born in 1794 in nearby Bitchfield. The next two children, Mary (b. 1796) and William (b. 1798) are born about 15 miles away to the north of Grantham at Hough-on-the-Hill. The family eventually settled in Barrowby, just to the west of Grantham, and now a suburb of the town. It had a rapidly expanding population at the time – with the number of inhabitants growing from 465 in 1801 to 799 by 1841.

In Barrowby, William and Mary had four more children – Joseph (b. 1801),  Ann (b. 1804), Charlotte (b. 1806) and David (b.1808). David died in infancy, less than a year after he was born. His mother Mary may have died from complications associated with the birth of David, as Willliam married Ann Winter in Barrowby in October 1808. William and Ann’s first child, Ruth, had already been born earlier that year, and the couple had a further ten children together in Barrowby over the next twenty years: Sarah (b. 1810); Valentine (b. 1811); James (b. 1813); Richard (b. 1815); Rebecca (b. 1816); George (b. 1819); Thomas (b. 1821); Michael (b. 1823); Robert (b. 1825) and Charles (b. 1829).

William died, aged 70 in 1839, and was buried at All Saints Church, Barrowby, on 23 May. Ann continued to live with her younger sons Charles and Robert and died in 1858, aged 71.

John Sentance, William’s eldest son, married Elizabeth Clark on 1st March 1829 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire. For more information about John and Elizabeth and their family, go to the next page.