Archives of Maryland
(Biographical Series)

Margaret Brooke (1765-1830)
MSA SC 3520-15903

Biography:

Born November 23, 1765 in Montgomery County, Maryland. Daughter of Roger Brooke IV and Mary Brooke. Nine siblings: Samuel Brooke ( b. 1758); Mary Brooke (b. 1760); James Brooke (b. 1762); Deborah Brooke (b. 1764); Sarah Brooke (1767-1805); Hannah Brooke Briggs (1770-1851), Elizabeth Brooke (b. 1772); Roger Brooke V (b. 1774); and Dorothy Brooke (b. 1776). Died September 19, 1830 at Brooke Grove, Montgomery County, Maryland.

Margaret Brooke was the daughter of Roger Brooke IV, a wealthy landowner in Montgomery County, Maryland. When her father passed away in 1790, he left several thousand acres of land to his eight children, who divided the land equally. Margaret lived on her inherited section of her father's estate, known as Brooke Grove, for several years after his death.1 In 1804, she moved to the nearby town of Brookeville, which was founded by Richard Thomas Jr. and named in honor of Margaret's grandfather, James Brooke the Elder. She remained in Brookeville until 1825, when she returned to Brooke Grove, passing away on the estate in 1830.2

Margaret never appears to have been employed in her lifetime, but she nevertheless remained wealthy until her death, which she accomplished by selling portions of the land that she had inherited from her father. Not all of her father's land was immediately divided upon his death, though. Ann Dorsey, one of Roger Brooke's heirs, along with her husband, William H. Dorsey, contested the ownership of two pieces of Brooke's land in Montgomery County. They insisted that Ann was the sole heir of the two pieces of land in question. The case was taken to the Maryland Chancery Court, where Margaret, along with several of her siblings, fought for the right to sell their father's land. The court eventually ruled that Margaret and her family would in fact be able to sell the property.3 With the money that she made from land sales such as this, Margaret was able to buy a home in Brookeville, as well as two other lots in the town and several parcels of land nearby. Her home in Brookeville was adjacent to the home of her cousin, Gerard Brooke, who was also a wealthy landowner.4

Margaret was also a slave owner. In 1813, she purchased a six-year-old girl named Flora from fellow-Quaker Samuel Thomas. Even though slave-owning was contrary to Quaker doctrine by this time, Margaret showed concern for Flora. Though Thomas had already manumitted Flora so she would be freed when she reached the age of eighteen in 1824, Margaret manumitted the girl again so that she could be released from bondage at the age of sixteen instead.5

Margaret Brooke did not always have a positive relationship with her family members. In 1818, she was involved in a legal dispute with her relative Eleanor Brooke over the administration of the will of Henry Brooke, Eleanor's husband. Although the terms of the dispute are unclear, Margaret eventually won the dispute, forcing Eleanor to pay her a sum of $1,002.50 from Henry's estate.6 

Like many of her neighbors in Brookeville, Margaret was active within the local Quaker community at the Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting, which was only a few miles from her home. She was frequently appointed as a representative of Sandy Spring to attend the Baltimore Quarterly Meeting, which was a gathering of several Maryland Quaker communities that occurred every three months. At the Sandy Spring Meeting, the men of the community usually met separately from the women, and Margaret often acted as a liaison between the two groups. Her duties in this position generally included delivering the minutes of the women's meeting to the men's meeting, and returning to the women's meeting with the minutes from the men's meeting. In 1819, she was appointed to attend the Yearly meeting in Philadelphia, which was most likely the largest annual Quaker meeting in the United States. By 1823, she had been appointed to a committee that was tasked with confirming or denying new memberships.7

Because Margaret never married, she did not have any children to pass her estate on to when she died. Instead, she appointed her oldest brother Samuel Brooke and his wife Sarah, as well as her niece Margaret Garrigues and Margaret's husband Robert as the heirs to her estate. By the time of her death on September 19, 1830, Margaret had sold all of her property in Brookeville and returned to Brooke Grove where she had been raised.8

Kyle Bacon, DAR Research Fellow, 2012.

Notes:

  1.  MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 1794-1795, Liber F-6, pp. 58, 61, 63, 66, 68, 74, 77, 79. Deeds pertaining to Margaret Brooke's in heritance of her father's land [MSA CE 148-6].
  2. Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting: Births, Deaths, and Membership: Births, pp. 3-4 [MSA SC 2978, SCM 667-3].
  3. CHANCERY COURT (Chancery Papers) May 17, 1790, Basil Brooke, Elizabeth Brooke, George Chandler, Deborah Chandler, William Stabler, Deborah Stabler, Mary Samuel, Mary Brooke, Richard Thomas, Deborah Thomas, Margaret Brooke, Sarah Brooke, Hannah Brooke, Roger Brooke, and Dorothy Brooke vs. William H. Dorsey and Ann Dorsey. FR. Petition to sell Pembrook, Resurvey on Mount Radnor. MdHR 17,898-1454 [MSA S512-1520, 1/36/1/58].
  4. MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT (Land Records) July 14, 1795, Liber F-7, p. 8. Deed, Samuel Brooke to Margaret Brooke, land outside of Brookeville [MSA CE 148-7]; July 29, 1799,  Liber H, p. 536. Deed, Margaret Brooke to Ephraim Gaither, land outside of Brookeville [MSA CE 148-9]; February 14, 1804, Liber L, p. 257. Deed, Deborah Philips to Margaret Brooke, lot 41 in Brookeville [MSA CE 148-12]; January 27, 1806, Liber M, p. 481. Deed, Caleb Pancoast to Gerard Brooke, lots 10-13 in Brookeville [MSA CE 148-13]; November 15, 1809, Liber O, p. 375. Deed, Samuel Brooke to Margaret Brooke, lots 14 & 15 in Brookeville [MSA CE 148-15].
  5. FREDERICK COUNTY COURT (Land Records) 23 July 1813, Liver WR 44, p. 742. Manumission, Samuel Thomas to Negro Flora [MSA CE 108-64].
  6. MONTGOMERY COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Estate Record) 1818-1821 [MSA C1138-14, 1/17/8/13] Liber M, p. 252; MONTGOMERY COUNTY REGISTER OF WILLS (Orphans Court Proceedings) 01/09/1811-05/14/1822 [MSA C1135-2, 1/17/8/34].
  7. Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting: Minutes, Women,: April 19th, 1811 meeting minutes [MSA SC 2978, SCM 667-3]; Isaac Briggs, et. al. Briggs-Stabler Papers, 1793-1910. Maryland Historical Society collection no. MS 147, Box 2, 1819 folder, Hannah Briggs to Joseph Bringhurst, April 2nd, 1819. This collection includes a variety of personal correspondence between Isaac and Hannah Briggs, as well as letters to and from their children. in this particular letter, Hannah asked if Margaret could stay with Joseph on her way to the yearly meeting in Philadelphia.
  8. MONTGOMERY COUNTY COURT (Land Records) October 20, 1818, Liber U, p.300. Deed, Margaret Brooke to Rachel Robertson, lots 14-15 in Brookeville [MSA CE 148-22]; August 8, 1825, Liber Y, p.121. Deed, Margaret Brooke to Sarah B. Thomas, lot 41 in Brookeville, Maryland [MSA CE 148-26]; Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting: Births, Deaths, and Membership: Deaths, p. 9-10 [MSA SC 2978, SCM 667-3].

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