"Mr. John Brent was born in 1729, at Portsea Hants, of pious and excellent parents, who, knowing the value of religion themselves, brought up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. He served his apprenticeship to a shipwright in his Majesty's yard at Portsmouth, and in 1762 removed to his Majesty's yard at Sheerness, where he filled the situation of foreman of the new work along with the late Sir John Williams. About 1768, he was appointed assistant-surveyor to the East India Company, under the late Gabriel Snodgrass, esq. In 1770, he entered into partnership with John Randall and John Gray, esqrs. in the shipbuilding line at Rotherhithe - here he continued for many years, maintaining a high and deserved reputation in his profession. His mind was active, and his body strong, whilst his skill in Naval Architecture exceeded that of most men, and few did more for its extension and improvement. The comprehensiveness of his views, and the promptness of his conception, have been the subject of general admiration. The blessing of Providence descended on his superior knowledge and honest industry; by which means he was enabled to retire about twenty years ago to the enjoyment of ease and comfort for the remainder of life. He had erected a small but neat mansion at Elliot-place, Blackheath, where he lived beloved and revered by all that knew him. His venerable appearance, his cheerful looks, and his kind address, will not be forgotten by those who had the happiness of his acquaintance. He was a patriarchal dignity- the contemplation of which excited the mingled sensation of love and esteem. He was married twice. By his first wife, who died Jan. 23, 1793, and who was distinguished for the mildness of her disposition and the softness of her manners, he had eleven children; two only of whom, Mr. Samuel Brent and Mr. Daniel Brent, live to cherish the virtues of a parent whom they loved and revered. At the time of his death he had nine grandchildren, and eleven great grandchildren . . . By his second marriage, he united himself to the eldest daughter of the late truly respectable and reverend John Sturch, of Newport, in the Isle of Wight - who not only proved a suitable companion in his declining years, but, by her constant kindness and attention, smoothed his descent towards the tomb . . . He had been on a visit to his youngest son in Essex; but returning home, was immediately taken ill, and after a few days' indisposition, expired without a groan on the last day of July, in the 83d year of his age."
With my copy of the Shipbuilder's Repository, which I bought from Anthony Simmonds, was a letter referring to a possible identity of the author and an extract from The Gentleman's Magazine, January, 1813 [Appended]. There is nothing which indicates why Brent is proposed as a possible author of the book.
In the list of subscribers in my copy of the Shipbuilder's Repository has been pencilled a comment in left margin:
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Copyright © 1996 Lars Bruzelius.