The Brents


Mary Brent was the wife of Thomas Pearsall and mother of the American Pearsalls. The following are some stories of her relatives.

Sir Nathaniel Brent, L.L.D. was Warden of Merton College, Oxford and Proctor of the University in 1607. He was admitted Bachelor of Law October 11, 1623. Elected warden of Merton College in 1622, he was afterwards appointed Commissary of the diocese of Canterbury and Vicar General to the archbishop, and later became judge of the Prerogative Court.

Nathaniel Brent was a hostile witness at the trial of Archbishop Laud in 1638. In 1645 Charles I deposed him from his office at Oxford. Upon Fairfax capturing Oxford town in 1646, Nathaniel Brent returned to the college where he resumed his post. "In 1647 he was appointed president of the famous parliament commission for the due correction of offences, abuses and disorders in the university. The work of the comission was too mild, so in 1649 Fairfax and Cromwell paid a visit to the university, after which the correction of abuses proceeded with greater certainty of punishment being administered to the offending royalist. He was at heart a supporter of the kingdom and retired rather than sign the engagement which would have bound him to support a commonwealth without a king or a house of lords. He retired to his house in Little Britain, London, where he died November 6 1652. (Pearsalls p.990) Henry Pearsall's son Nathaniel was named for this ancestor.

Giles Brent emigrated to Maryland in 1637 where he received a grant of the manor of Kent Island which was specially created for him. About the same time Giles Brent received a tract of sixty acres of town land in St Marys County, called the "White House" which adjoined his Sisters Freehold (belonging to Margaret and Mary Brent), lying between it and St. Mary's City. On January 7, 1639, Lord Baltimore wrote, I would have you lay out for Giles Brent, Gent. Treasurer of the Council of this Province, 1000 acres of land lying nearest together about Kent Fort and 1000 acres where he shall desire it. He was a member of the Assembly of Maryland, 1639. He was appointed Chief Judge and commander of Kent Island, February 3, 1639/40."

"In 1642 Giles Brent appointed proxy by 73 of the inhabitants of the Isle of Kent to the assembly. He was a member of the Council and on April 15, 1643, He was appointed Governor, Lieutenant General and Admiral of Maryland. About 1645 he removed to Virginia and was a strong royalist during the civil war in England and was called to account by Parliament for seizing a ship in Chesapeake Bay and attempting to persuade the emigrated to Maryland emigrated to carry him to Bristol to aid the King's forces, then in possession of the city. He patented large tracts of land in Virginia." (Ibid p.993)

"Sir Giles Brent and other royalists were passengers o a ship which was seized by an adventurer named Ingle and his band. They were carried as prisoners to London. Ingle would have thrown Giles Brent overboard during the voyage had it not been for the intervention of one of his mates. They went free shortly after their arrival at London as any one could have foretold who knew of the influences they had with the parliamental government." (Ibid. p.994)

Mary Brent: "...emigrated to Maryland 1638, died about 1657. On October 17, 1652, Mary Brent received a Virginia grant of 1640 acres of land in Northumberland County on the Potomac River and on Aquia Creek, adjoining her brother Giles Brent. Among the head rights for which she obtained this grant was that of Mr. William Ayres. It will be recalled that Christopher Ayres was one of the executors of the will of Edmund Pearsall...in 1629, along with Thomas Pearsall, son of said Edmund, who married Mary Brent." (Ibid p. 995)

On October 4, 1639, almost a year after their arrival, Margaret and Mary Brent were granted seventy and one-half acres of town land in Saint Mary's which they called the Sisters Freehold. By the letters from Leonard Calvert to the surveyor it is evident that the houses both in St. Mary's and on Kent Island, which Giles Brent obtained, were built before the survey was made, for he said in both instances, I would have you set forth the land lying nearest together about the house where they now dwell. The Sisters Freehold was about half a mile from Saint Mary's City and was formerly known as St. Thomas. The house was located a quarter of a mile from St. Mary's River, on an elevation about sixty feet above sea level, and commanded a beautiful view of the river and country. It was said to have been surrounded by a large grove of handsome oaks, and for the times was of great elegance." (Ibid 993)

Ann Brent:...baptized at Illmington, August 7, 1637.

This branch of the family were Catholics and were in constant trouble with the authorities on account of their failure to attend upon the services of the Established Church of England. The family of Brent divided at this time in their religious adherence the same as the Horsley-London branches of the Horsley family of Pershall. In the Royalist papers (State Papers, Domestic, G 72, pages 231, 276 and 285) appears the following:-January 25, 1654-5. Order for search to be made in the old books as to the sequestration of the manor of Larkstoke, Co. Gloucester, for the Recusancy of Richard Brent the elder, deceased, or of Foulke Brent, Richard Brent the younger, Edward Brent, George Brent, Anne Brent and Jane Brent, children of said Richard Brent the elder...When the children were summoned to take the [loyalty] oath there appeared only Mrs Anne Brent and she refused to take it. The estate was therefore continued under sequestration, all of them being known papists. Dated at Gloucestor May 10, 1653. It was an important fact in our family history that this branch of the Brent family were Roman Catholics and the friends of the Calverts and the Lords Baltimore." (Pearsalls pp 994-996)

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