Margaret Brent

(1601 - 1671)


Drawing of Margaret Brent, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS (Tunis Collection)  MSA SC 1480

Margaret Brent, a British noblewoman, settled in Maryland in 1638, and became one of its most notable business persons, lawyers and entrepreneurs.

Since she was Catholic and of the nobility, Lord Baltimore granted her land and the privileges of the original pioneer settlers.  Brent and her sister established an estate near Saint Mary's City called "Sisters Freehold."

Brent is best known for her appearance before the Maryland General Assembly in 1648 when she petitioned the Assembly for the right to vote.  Brent requested that she be able to have one vote as a landowner and another vote as an attorney for Lord Baltimore.  The members of the Assembly were shocked that a woman would make such a request. Brent was refused, and Lord Baltimore used this opportunity to withdraw his favor from the Brent Family, a politically beneficial move for him.  Following this action, life became very difficult for Brent and her family.  She eventually moved to Virginia, where she remained until her death.

The statement made by Margaret Brent when she appeared before the Assembly was not, "Women should vote," but "Taxation without representation is tyranny." Marylander's can take pride in Brent's statement, which has since become well esteemed in American political philosophy.

Biography courtesy of the Maryland Commission for Women, 1985.

© Copyright Maryland State Archives, 2001