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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Parish Clerk (1907).
friend of the learned Browne Willis.  His name is mentioned in Cough’s Sepulchral Monuments of Great Britain, and his intelligence and knowledge noticed, and Newcombe, the historian of the abbey, expressed his gratitude to the good clerk for much information imparted by him to the author.  The monks could not have guarded the shrine of St. Alban with greater care than did Kent protect the relics of good Duke Humphrey.  His veneration for all that the abbey contained was remarkable.  A story is told of a gentleman who purloined a bone of the Duke.  The clerk suspected the theft but could never prove it, though he sometimes taxed the gentleman with having removed the bone.  At last, just before his death, the man restored it, saying to the clerk, “I could not depart easy with it in my possession.”

Kent was a plumber and glazier by trade, in politics a staunch partisan of “the Blues,” and on account of his sturdy independence was styled “Honest John.”  He performed his duties in the minster with much zeal and ability, his knowledge of psalmody was unsurpassed, his voice was strong and melodious, and he was a complete master of church music.  Unlike many of his confreres, he liked to hear the congregation sing; but when country choirs came from neighbouring churches to perform in the abbey with instruments, contemptuously described by him as “a box of whistles,” the congregation being unable to join in the melodies, he used to give out the anthem thus:  “Sing ye to the praise and glory of God....”  Five years before his death he had an attack of paralysis which slightly crippled his power of utterance, though this defect could scarcely be detected when he was engaged in the services of the church.  Two days before his death he sang his “swan-song.”  Some colours were presented to the volunteers of the town, and were consecrated in the abbey.  During the service he sang the 20th Psalm with all the strength and vivacity of youth.  When his funeral sermon was preached the rector alluded to this dying effort, and said that on the day of the great service “Nature seemed to have reassumed her throne; and, as she knew it was to be his last effort, was determined it should be his best.”  The body of the good clerk, John Kent, rests in the abbey church which he loved so well, in a spot marked by himself, and we hope that the “restoration,” somewhat drastic and severe, which has fallen upon the grand old church, has not obscured his grave or destroyed the memorial of this worthy and excellent clerk.

CHAPTER VII

THE CLERK IN EPITAPH

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