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Giles Brent (b. 1604, d. August 31, 1671)Giles Brent was born 1604 in Admington, Gloucester, England, and died August 31, 1671 in Stafford, Virginia.He married Mary Kittamaquund on Abt. 1649 in St. Mary's County, Maryland, daughter of Chitomachen Kittamaquund and Mary Kittamaquund.
Notes for Giles Brent:
Giles emigrated to America from England in 1638, and he received the grant of the Manor of Kent Fort on Kent Island.He married an Indian princess and moved to Stafford County, Virginia; where he established a large estate.Today, this is the town of Brentsville.His sister Margaret and Mary also moved to Virginia where they lived on Giles' estate which was called "Peace". (It wasn't "peaceful", Giles was always at odds with the either Calverts or his Protestant neighbors.)His sister Margaret Brent was reportedly the first woman who ever claimed the right of suffrage in America. (Colonial Families of the United States of America, Vol VI)
"Giles Brent, Sr. was the fifth son of Sir Richard and Elizabeth (Reed) Brent of Larke Stoke and Admington, England. He was born in 1606 and died in 1671, at his estate 'Retirement' in Westmoreland County, Virginia.He migrated to Maryland in 1638 with his brother, Fulke and sisters, Mary and Margaret.He was the Deputy Governor of Maryland, the Lieutenant-General of Militia, the Lord of Kent Fort Manor, and Member of the Council of the House of Burgesses.Giles Brent, Colonel, of Retirement, Stafford County, raised a force of 800 men to assist Berkeley against Bacon in 1676.His estates in Maryland and Virginia were enormous; he left Maryland in 1650 and went to Virginia, married (firstly) about 1650, the Princess Kittamaquund, daughter of the Emporer of Piscataway (she was adopted by Margaret Brent, educated and baptized and given the name of Mary Brent); married (secondly) about 1660, Mrs Frances Harrison, nee Whitgreaves, by which there was no children. "
A short distance up St. Inigoes, bearing north, is St. Andrew's Creek. Beautifully situated on a bank overlooking the two creeks is Clocker's Fancy.Tradition states this is the next to the oldest house now standing in St. Mary's County.This land forms a part of the estate of T. Rowland Thomas of St. Mary's County and Baltimore City.Mr. Thomas also owns the adjoining properties which are of historic interest; The Whitehouse Lot patented in 1639 to Deputy Giles Brent, Brent's Forge and Sister's Freehold, patented in 1639 for Mistress Margaret and Mary Brent, Greene's Rest, patented 1639 for Gov. Thomas Greene, and Justis' Freehold, the home of William Deakins.These various lands are today linked into one estate of several hundred acres, known as Brentland Farm and extend from St. Inigoes to St. Mary's River.On the south side of St. Inigoes Creek is Grason's Wharf, and just beyond on the banks of the creek is standing today what is said to be the oldest house in Maryland, Cross Manor, the home of Senator and Mrs. Charles Sterett Grason.The building of Cross Manor is put at 1644, because it is recorded that about a year after it's supposed date of erection the owner made a claim against the Crown of England for silverware and other valuables that had been stolen from it. (From Early Settlers of Maryland by Gust. Skordas 1637)
Giles father was Sir Richard Brent, Lord Of Stoke And Admington.He was born abt 1573 in Admington and died before 1 May 1652, in Gloucestershire, England.Richard inherited his title of Lord from his father.This title was first given to Richards great-grandfather Lord Robert III Brent.Giles tenth great-grandfather was King Edward III Plantagenet of England.Of course, through this line which is obtained through Giles great-grandmother Elizabeth Wroth who married his great-grandfather William Brent.Through Giles' mothers lineage, King Louis IV of France was his twenty-secondgreat-grandfather and Charlemagne was his twenty-fourthgreat-grandfather.
In 1619, Margaret Brent, one of 13 children in the Brent family, converted to Catholicism at the age of 19. Following her example, the entire family then converted to the Faith. In 1622, her father, Richard Brent, Lord of Admington and Larkstroke in Gloucester, England, had all his property seized because he was labeled an 'obstinate papist.' In 1638, Margaret with her sister, Mary, and her brothers, Giles and Fulke, sailed to Maryland carrying with them a letter from Lord Baltimore instructing his brother Governor Leonard Calvert, to grant the Brent family 'land and privileges equal to other settlers.'
The family became influential in Maryland's early history. Giles became Acting Governor and Commander of Kent Island. Margaret earned the confidence of Gov. Leonard Calvert who appointed her executor of his will. When the Protestants rebelled, she, acting in the absence of Gov. Calvert, raised a volunteer militia to join the Governor's forces to suppress the Claiborne Rebellion. Upon his return, Gov. Calvert in appreciation for Margaret's fine handling of the situation, instructed her to 'take all, pay all' to avert mutiny and disorder of the soldiers waiting to be paid.
In 1644, when Governor Leonard Calvert was in England and Giles Brent was Acting Governor.Brent had a falling-out with Richard Ingle, "a Protestant ship captain who had been trading for tobacco in Maryland and Virginia since 1642....Brent... inadvisably arrested [Ingle] briefly for treason against King Charles I, [who was] by then literally at war with Parliament. Ingle escaped trial, but early in the following year, he appeared in the Chesapeake armed with letters of marque from Parliament that allowed him to seize ships or goods belonging to supporters of the king. He may not have left England planning a raid on Maryland, but in Virginia he was told that Leonard Calvert, under a commission from King Charles, was going to seize debts owed to Ingle. At that point, if not before, Ingle began to plan an attack on Maryland, perhaps in collaboration with William Claiborne, who had just made an abortive attempt to reclaim Kent Island. In Virginia Ingle picked up a few men willing to participate in his plans.
"On February 14, 1645, [Ingle] surprised the settlement at St. Mary's City, "burned the Catholic chapel and plundered the homes of Catholic settlers. Councillor Giles Brent was captured immediately. He was visiting the Dutch ship Looking Glass anchored in the river. Ingle seized the ship as a prize. Governor Calvert managed to collect and arm supporters and create some sort of fortification called St. Thomas's Fort, which was probably located on the properties of the Brents. (Giles Brent's town land property and that of his sisters were referred to in some documents as St. Thomas's Lot.) The rebels fortified Calvert's own house near the original St. Mary's Fort, which was evidently too decayed for use. From these two temporary strongholds, both sides foraged in the community for corn and cattle, and Ingle's men, along with Protestant rebels, looted and sometimes burned the homes of leading Catholics. Ingle even sailed to Kent Island and looted and burned Giles Brent's estate there. In late March or early April, 1645, "Ingle sailed for England...his vessel packed with plunder. He carried with him as prisoners Giles Brent; John Lewger, the Provincial Secretary; and two Jesuit priests, Father Andrew White and Father Thomas Copley. "Governor Calvert fled to Virginia, and the Calverts came close to losing the colony entirely...The population of Maryland, perhaps 500-600 people at Ingle's raid, probably dropped to under 100, fewer than had come on Ark and Dove eleven years before. If Maryland was to recover, the province had to start anew.
During this time no mention is made of Mary Kittimaquund, but one can imagine the turmoil faced by a young Indian girl, taken from her own home and culture at the age of 7 and married to a man in his late thirties when she was 11. Now, less than two years later, she is 13. Is she taken prisoner on the ship with Giles? Is she left behind? The record doesn't say. By the time of the restoration, if not earlier, Mary's father died.
In Dec of 1646, the Restoration of the Calverts began. Leonard Calvert..."arrived at St. Mary's, probably in late December, with a force of 28 soldiers, about half of them former inhabitants. It appears that he met with little resistance. He quickly called up the Assembly that had been elected under Hill; he did not try to call elections for a new one. In the presence of this Assembly, six of his soldiers swore that Calvert had told them before leaving Virginia that if he found that the inhabitants of St. Mary's had accepted his pardon the soldiers were to expect no pillage; he would receive the inhabitants in peace and ask only that they aid him in reducing Kent. With these reassurances, and doubtless feeling little appetite for violence, the Assembly sat for four days. It passed several laws, the most important being an act for collecting a custom of 60 pounds of tobacco per hogshead of tobacco exported from Maryland. This revenue was intended to support and pay the soldiers, although Leonard Calvert had to pledge payment from both his own and his brother's estate should the custom prove insufficient.
When Leonard Calvert returned in December 1646, a group of Protestant dissidents fled to Chicacoan, a small settlement across the Potomac river in Virginia, and from there made efforts to raise resistance in Maryland. Problems on Kent Island were even more dangerous. One Peter Knight had seized the Brent properties and led the inhabitants in refusal to accept Lord Baltimore's government. And William Claiborne had returned in a last ditch effort to end Calvert rule by inducing the Islanders to attack St. Mary's. In the end Claiborne failed, and Knight, seeing no hope of help from Virginia, departed for Chicacoan after looting the Brents' estate. When Calvert arrived with his soldiers in early April of 1647 he had little difficulty persuading the few men who by then remained on the island to take the oath of fidelity and accept Lord Baltimore's government. On April 16, he pardoned all on Kent who had taken the oath, and on April 18, he reestablished the local government in the name of Lord Baltimore with the appointment of a commander and justices of a county court. Thus ended what Marylanders called the Time of Troubles and what historians have called Ingle's Rebellion.
Leonard Calvert achieved success, but Lord Baltimore might have lost his colony just the same had not the second half of the 1640s been a time of boom in the tobacco industry. When Ingle began his raid, there were probably between 500 and 600 inhabitants; when Calvert returned there were probably only about 100. The others had left in search of peaceful rule and opportunities to achieve prosperity without constant threat of violence. Had poor economic prospects caused the population drain to continue, the Calvert colony would have come to an end. Instead, however, once peace appeared to be established, the Maryland population grew rapidly. There would be future challenges to Calvert rule, but no lack of settlers to exploit the land.
Carr notes that while "Giles was in Maryland by November 6, 1646, he does not appear again in the Maryland records until after Leonard Calvert's death. Apparently Brent did not participate in the recovery of Maryland or share in the pacification of Kent Island. Were he and his [13 year old] wife living with the Piscataway Indians and perhaps trying to garner support there for a claim to Indian lands? Or was Giles in Virginia, scouting out opportunities there?"
"With the return of proprietary government, [Margaret Brent] handled the litigation for recovering the extensive damage to a mill and a house and for loss of equipment and cattle, and this took her to the island on occasion. Until he moved to Virginia, Giles acted for himself in seeking damages for loss of his cattle and the burning of his books. (Margaret still held title to the manor [on Kent Island], but not to livestock that Giles had acquired since, and not to his personal library.) The Kent County court records show little additional. Late in 1648, Margaret was at Kent long enough to supply sugar, spice, and strong waters to William Cox in his last sickness and "for a funerell Diner for him." And on January 13, 1648[/9] she gave Zachary Wade power of attorney to recover her debts and collect rent corn due the proprietor. Probably neither she or her brother attempted to rebuild the plantation he had lost."
Meanwhile, Lord Baltimore, anxious to win favor from the Cromwell government in England, set about to humiliate the Brents as a prominent family in Maryland. As a result, Giles moved from Maryland to Virginia in 1647 settling near the mouth of the Aquia Creek. Margaret, along with her sister Mary, left Maryland in 1650 and joined Giles. There the family contributed substantially to the development of Virginia in the Aquia area and the 'Northern Neck.'Giles and his heirs continued to pursue the tradition of religious freedom in Virginia that they had experienced in Maryland. Giles knew of the legislative acts of 1641 which prohibited the practice of the Catholic Faith under penalty of heavy fines and prison. Yet, he became an Officer of the Militia and was to become a successful businessman. After his death, his nephew George Brent commanded the Staffort Rangers, was highly respected by the Virginia Assembly, and became known as 'Virginia's leading Papist.'
George Brent, in the 1690's, petitioned James II of England for a dispensation from the colony's penal laws restricting the practice of all religion but the Anglican faith. The King responded to this petition by permitting religious freedom which from then on was fully practiced by Catholics in Virginia.
Today, the Brent Society continues in this rich tradition of public witness and fellowship and in the promotion of spiritual, intellectual, and social opportunities in living our Catholic Faith.
Giles father was Sir Richard Brent, Lord of Stoke and Admington.His mother was Elizabeth Reed.Through this marriage, the Reed lineage, through her mothers line primarily takes us back and through an intense Royal lineage.Giles' tenth great grandfather was King Edward III of England.Edward III parents were King Edward II of England and Isabella of France.Edward II father was King Edward I, son of King Henry III. Isabella's father was King Philip IV of France, son of King Philip III. This is one of the connections where the Royal lines of England and France were more alligned.This alliance never lasted long due to family and sibling rivalries.Many of these ancestors tie in multiple ways to many important and famous figures of medieval Dukedoms and Lordships crossing through many families such as Neville, Beauchamp, and Percy. This family has a very strong well-known pedigree.
Though Margaret Brent is not an ancestor of ours, but the sister of Giles Brent, it is important to speak of her personal historical relevance.
In 1647 the new Maryland colony was in crisis. Protestants had revolted against the Catholic government and seized control of the colony. To preserve Maryland as a refuge for Catholics and safeguard his familys interests, Governor Leonard Calvert hired mercenary soldiers from Virginia. Lacking hard currency to pay them, he pledged his estate and that of his brother, Cecilius Calvert (Lord Baltimore, the proprietor of Maryland), as security for their wages. But just as his soldiers put down the revolt, Governor Calvert died, plunging the government into disarray, without authority or funds to pay the restless mercenaries. On his deathbed Leonard Calvert named Thomas Green to succeed him as governor but entrusted his personal estate to a prominent landowner, Margaret Brent. Telling her "I make you my sole Exequtrix. Take all, pay all," he left the resolution of the crisis in her hands.
The woman who accepted this challenge was born around 1601 in Gloucestershire, England, into a substantial gentry family. But as Catholics, the Brents religious freedom and fortune were increasingly precarious. Since the death of Queen Mary in 1557, English Catholics had endured almost continuous religious persecution, and the growing power of militant Puritans during the 1630s promised new hardships for the Brents and other Catholics. The family faced a troubled financial future as well. With thirteen children, Margaret Brents parents had done their utmost to propagate their Catholic faith, but their fruitfulness threatened the next generation with economic decline. In migrating to Maryland, the Brent children hoped to use the modest funds provided by their parents and their ties with the Calverts to maintain their gentry status.
Margaret Brent, her sister Mary, and their brothers Giles and Fulke arrived in Maryland in 1638. They carried a letter from their coreligionist Lord Baltimore recommending that they be granted land on favorable terms, and the grant was made. Margaret and Mary took up the "Sisters Freehold" of 70 acres in St. Marys City, the capitol of the colony. Four years later Margaret acquired another 1,000 acres on Kent Island from her brother Giles. Margaret soon won the trust and favor of Governor Calvert, sharing with him the guardianship of Mary Kitomaquund, the daughter of a Piscataway chief, who was being educated among the English.
The governors death during the 1647 crisis threatened the Brents ambitions, which depended on Catholic rule and access to the governing family and its allies in the assembly. To preserve her familys religious freedom and its wealth and influence Margaret Brent would have to save the colony from the mutinous soldiers. Now a mature woman of forty-six, Brent was unusually well qualified for this task. Like many women of gentle birth, she had received some preparation for public affairs; she had enjoyed a basic education in England and had watched her father conduct the business of his estate. But, almost unheard of for a woman, she also had considerable experience in the public arena. As a single woman of property in Maryland, she had appeared frequently before the Provincial Court to file suits against her debtors. In addition, she had occasionally acted as an attorney, pleading the cases of her brother Giles and various women before the court.
Brent did not hesitate to use the power and authority Calvert had assigned to her. First, since food was in short supply and the soldiers camped in St. Marys City were demanding bread, she arranged for corn to be imported from Virginia. Then, to pay the soldiers, she spent all of Leonard Calverts personal estate. When that proved inadequate, she adroitly exploited her position as the governors legal executor to draw on the resources of the Lord Proprietor. Using the power of attorney Governor Calvert had held as Baltimores representative, Brent sold the proprietors cattle to pay the troops. Once paid, the soldiers promptly dispersed, some becoming settlers, allowing Governor Green to restore order to the increasingly Protestant colony. To preserve Maryland as a refuge for Catholics, Lord Baltimore had the assembly pass a Toleration Act (1649), which allowed the free exercise of religion by all Christians.
Margaret Brents vigorous advocacy of the interests of her family and the Calverts did not go unchallenged. In January 1648 she demanded two votes in the assembly, one for herself as a freeholder and one in her role as the proprietors attorney. For reasons that do not appear on the record, the Provincial Court opposed her claim: it "denyed that the said Mrs. Brent should have any vote in the house." From England, Lord Baltimore launched a "bitter invective" against Brent, protesting against the sale of his cattle and accusing her of wasting his estate. Baltimore's attack was partly designed to convince the Puritan Parliament, which had just defeated the king in the English Civil War, that he did not favor Catholics. He also hoped to recover some of his property, which he suspected had fallen into the hands of the Brent family. Although the Maryland assembly declined to grant Margaret Brent a vote, it did defend her stewardship of Baltimores estate, advising him that it "was better for the Collonys safety at that time in her hands than in any mans . . . for the Soldiers would never have treated any others with that Civility and respect. . . ."
No longer assured of the proprietors favor, the Brents turned to new strategies to advance their interests. Giles Brent married Mary Kitomaquund, the Piscataway Indian, perhaps hoping to gain land or power from her influential father, and moved with her to Virginia in 1650. The next year Margaret and Mary Brent also took up lands in Virginia, on the Northern Neck, gradually settling their estate with migrants from England. Margaret Brent never married, making her one of the very few English women in the early Chesapeake not to do so. She died on her Virginia plantation, named "Peace," in 1671, bequeathing extensive property in Virginia and Maryland, mostly to her brother Giles and his children.
Margaret Brent is often hailed as an early feminist and woman lawyer, but viewed in the context of the time, her actions and achievements were essentially those of an "adventurer" and an assertive woman of property. Born into privileged circumstances and determined to maintain that status, she had struck out on her own, settling in the wilderness of Maryland, defending her interests before the Provincial Court, asserting her rights as a property owner in the assembly, and helping to save the colony, and her familys fragile stake in America in a time of crisis.
Subsequently, the American Bar Association has termed Margaret Brent the first lawyer in North America. "Most people who discuss Margaret Brent speak of her as the first women lawyer in Maryland and emphasize the extent of her participation in legal actions in the courts. This is a misleading picture of what she was doing. She was not a lawyer. Indeed, there were no lawyers admitted to practice in Maryland courts before the 1660s. From the beginning, people were allowed to plead their own cases, and women could do so if they were unmarried. Margaret made loans and brought actions for repayment; she was the defendant also on occasion. As Leonard Calvert's executrix, she used the courts as necessary to collect debts owed him and pay those he owed. She accepted commissions to act for others as attorney-in-fact, most often for her brother Giles and for Lord Baltimore. None of her cases involved complex technical procedures." (Carr)
Basically, Margaret Brent was a business woman. That she was far and away the most active woman in litigation is certainly true, and that she was usually successful is also true, but she was not the only woman to act for herself. For example, in the year 1643, the recently widowed Mary Lawn Courtney, formerly Margaret Brent's servant, brought two actions to collect debts owed her and defended herself against two actions.(45)
Maryland Public Schools have been named for Margaret Brent in St. Mary's County and Baltimore.
More About Giles Brent:
Record Change: January 23, 2004
More About Giles Brent and Mary Kittamaquund:
Marriage: Abt. 1649, St. Mary's County, Maryland.
Children of Giles Brent and Mary Kittamaquund are:
- +Katherine Brent, b. 1649, 'Peace Plantation', Stafford, Maryland, d. 1690, Calvert County, Maryland.
- +Brent, b. Bef. 1669, d. Aft. 1701.