© Lois Green Carr
Margaret Brent (1601-1671) is most renowned today for requesting a vote in the Maryland Assembly in an age when women, queens excepted, were not allowed direct participation in political life. In company with her sister Mary and two brothers, Giles and Fulke, she arrived in Maryland on November 22, 1638. The two sisters were armed with orders from Lord Baltimore that they were to be granted land on the terms he had offered to the first adventurers of 1634. The Brents were Catholics of noble descent and were distant cousins of the Proprietor. In Maryland they sought religious freedom and economic opportunity. Lord Baltimore, in turn, clearly expected that they would be valuable to his colony.
Lord Baltimore intended Maryland to be both a Catholic refuge and a profitable enterprise. To these ends, he needed Protestant as well as Catholic settlers. But how could Protestants and Catholics live peacably together in Maryand when they could not do so in England? To solve this problem, he promised toleration of all Christian religious practices and political participation to all settlers otherwise qualified without regard to religious preference. The Brents were participating in an experiment extraordinary for the time.
Margaret Brent's career in Maryland was remarkable in many ways, but one of the most striking things about it is that she and her sister never married. Their single status was more unusual than perhaps most people realize because in coming to Maryland they moved to a society in which, at this time, men outnumbered women about six to one. The pressures on them to marry must have been extreme, unless they were protected by vows of celibacy. Whether this explanation is possible is a question that deserves exploration.
All the early investors in Maryland -- Jesuit priests included -- were entrepreneurs, who brought in settlers, developed land, and raised tobacco for an international market. Margaret Brent was no exception. She and her sister, who as unmarried women were legally able to own and manage property, took up land and established a household independent of their brothers. Fulke soon returned to England, but Giles immediately became a colony leader. Margaret was active in importing and selling servants and lending capital to incoming settlers. She appeared for herself in court to collect her debts and in general handled her business affairs as a man would have done and without assistance from her brothers. With Governor Leonard Calvert, she was joint guardian of the daughter of the Piscataway "Emperor" Kittamaquand. Were these achievments all there is to tell, Margaret Brent would attract our attention and admiration for her enterprise under rugged conditions.
It happens that there is much more to tell. Early in 1645, seven years after the Brents' arrival, a Protestant ship captain, Richard Ingle, raided the settlement on the St. Mary's river in the name of the English Parliament, which was carrying on a civil war with Charles I. Ingle took the colony by surprise, burned the Catholic chapel, plundered the homes of Catholic settlers, and returned to England with Giles Brent and the Jesuit priests in chains. Governor Calvert fled to Virginia, and the Calverts came close to losing the colony entirely. Most of the Protestants left to become the first settlers in Virginia's Northern Neck, just across the Potomac river. 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.
Leonard Calvert, for reasons that remain mysterious, did not return to his colony until late November or December 1646. Arriving with a small band of soldiers, nearly half of whom were former settlers, he met with little resistance, except on Kent Island. He had paved the way with a promise to pardon all willing to swear fidelity to the Maryland Proprietor. Then, on June 9, 1647, he died. On his death bed he appointed Thomas Green as governor, but made Margaret Brent the executor of his estate, with instructions to "take all and pay all."
There is no doubt that at that moment Margaret Brent's courage and diplomacy were important to Maryland's survival. Without her, the Calverts might have lost their territory to Virginia and the experiment in religious toleration would have ended then and there. The soldiers were clamoring for their pay. There was a shortage of food. New disorders seemed imminent. Leonard Calvert had pledged his whole Maryland estate and that of his brother, the Lord Baltimore, to pay the soldiers, but Leonard's movable assets were insufficient, and under English law, as executor, Margaret could not readily sell his land. She kept pacifying soldiers ready at times to mutiny. Finally, with no time to gain Lord Baltimore's consent, on January 3, 1648, the Provincial Court appointed her as his attorney-in-fact. She was replacing Leonard Calvert, to whomthe Proprietor had given power, jointly with John Lewger, the provincial Secretary, to dispose of his property in emergency without authorization.
At this point, Margaret made the move for which she is most famous today. On January 21, 1648, she appeared before the Assembly to demand two votes, one for herself as a landowner and one as Lord Baltimore's legal representative. The Governor refused and she departed with the statement that she "Protested against all proceedings ... unless she may be present and have vote as aforesaid." It is unlikely that she expected success, but she knew well that the Assembly was unwilling to vote taxes to pay soldiers whom Governor Calvert had promised to pay himself. She may have hoped by her protest to cover herself as she faced the immediate necessity of selling the Proprietor's cattle without his knowledge. That day she began the sale, thereby averting a crisis that might have destroyed the colony and its policy of religious toleration.
As it turned out, her tactic, if it was such, was of no avail. Lord Baltimore was furious at what he saw as confiscation of his property and he was suspicious of Margaret's motives. When Leonard Calvert had been away in England in 1644, she had allowed her brother Giles to marry her ward, the Piscataway "empress" Mary Kittomaquand, and Lord Baltimore evidently feared that Giles would claim Indian lands in her name. By 1650, his wrath had driven all the Brents to remove to the Northern Neck of Virginia, where they brought in dozens of settlers and thereby took up and developed large grants of land. Margaret lived on her plantation, named "Peace," until her death about 1671.
Some modern advocates of women's rights have interpreted Margaret Brent as an early feminist. This she surely was not. Well born, exceptionally able, and entrusted with a heavy responsibility, she undoubtedly felt entitled to participate in making the decisions necessary to rescue the colony; but nothing indicates a belief that women generally should have the vote or that the patriarchal arrangements that deprived married women of independence were wrong.
The Maryland Assembly expressed well the nature of Margaret Brent's achievement. "We do Verily Believe," they wrote Lord Baltimore, "... that [your estate] was better for the Collonys safety at that time in her hands then in any mans else ... for the Soldiers would never have treated any other with ... Civility and respect .... She rather deserved favour and thanks from your Honour for her so much Concurring to the publick safety then to be justly liable to ... bitter invectives." In their view, it was not only courage and diplomacy that enabled her to save the day, but her womanliness, which demanded and received "Civility." The men of her place and time would not give her the vote, but they openly acknowledged that her abilities and civilizing talents were of crucial importance to the "publick safety."
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT MARGARET BRENT
Margaret Brent's career presents many questions that can not be definitively
answered. What follows addresses some of those frequently asked and adds
some additional comments on problems of interpretation that often arise.
It is assumed that any one making use of these notes has a general familiarity
with Margaret Brent's story. Appended is a time line of her career in Maryland
that helps to establish what is certain about her life and contributions,
what can be inferred or provide grounds for a reasonable guess, and what
can not be known. Not every reference to Margaret Brent's activities in
the courts is included. The result would be unnecessarily repetitious.
Anyone who wants to pursue more detail can use the indexes to William Hand
Browne, et al., eds. Archives of Maryland, First Series, 72 vols.
(1883-1972), 4 and 10 (the series hereafter is cited as Archives),
which print the Provincial Court proceedings to 1657. Numbered references
are to numbered paragraphs of the time line.
Question 1. What was Ingle's Rebellion?
Ingle's Rebellion, 1645-1646, was an offshoot of the Civil War in England made possible in part by conflicts among Maryland leaders and in part by hostility between Catholic and Protestant settlers. The most detailed and best account is to be found in Timothy B. Riordan, "The Plundering Time: Maryland in the English Civil War, 1642-1650," ms. in possession of the author, Historic St. Mary's City, St. Mary's City, Maryland.
Richard Ingle was a Protestant ship captain who had been trading for tobacco in Maryland and Virginia since 1642. In 1644, while Governor Leonard Calvert was in England, Ingle had a falling-out with Acting Governor Giles Brent, who inadvisably arrested him briefly for treason against King Charles I, 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 and on February 14, 1645, he surprised the settlement at St. Mary's City. (; [2a]; ; ; Riordan, chap. 8: 1-22; 9: 14-17, 23-28; 10: 10-23; 11: 6-23, 34-35.)
There are only scraps of information about what happened over the next several months, coming primarily from later law suits brought against or by Ingle in England; scattered depositions taken after proprietary authority was reestablished; and archaeological excavations. 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. Some Protestant settlers joined Ingle's men, and there was considerable disorder for a while, but no actual bloodshed, so far as is known. 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. (Riordan, Chap. 11: 6-23, 34-35; 12: 1-20; "Richard Ingle in Maryland," Maryland Historical Magazine 1 , 125-140.)
Ingle sailed for England in late March or early April of 1645, 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. Undoubtedly, he had hoped to carry Leonard Calvert, too, but had not succeeded in capturing him. Evidently Ingle believed that the identity of his prisoners supplied sufficient proofs that he had found Maryland in the hands of a papist tyranny hostile to Parliament, and he expected vindication for his raid. The plundered goods and Looking Glass would be forfeit, making his adventure profitable indeed. These expectations proved false, but that is part of another story. (Riordan, Chap. 12: 26-34; 14: 1-31.)
Ingle later claimed to have left Maryland in the hands of a Protestant government, and Riordan argues that the makings, at least, were on hand.
How long after Ingle's departure Leonard Calvert remained in Maryland to lead his supporters is unclear. At some point during the summer of 1645, he appeared in Virginia, where he asked for help from Governor William Berkeley and the Virginia Council. (The evidence comes only from sparse notes taken before the council records were destroyed during the Civil War.) Since Berkeley, who had been in England, did not return to Virginia until June 7, Calvert probably left Maryland after that date. Once he was gone, the rebels took the fort with armed force, but so far as is known, the worst disorders then came to an end. Riordan argues that even during the "time of plunder" a cadre of able Protestant leaders is visible and an organized pattern of anti-proprietary and anti-Catholic activity can be detected. All was not chaos and chance. Some kind of provisional government was established. In the words of the 1649 Assembly, the rebel leaders "assumed the Government ... of ... the Province unto themselves." (Riordan, Chap. 13: 1-31; quote, p. 30.)
Calvert may have hoped to return to St. Thomas's Fort with new men and arms, but whether or not help from Virginia was possible, events had overtaken him for the moment. He made no effort that is known to regain the colony until the middle of 1646. Was he ill? Had he arrived in Virginia with wounds that needed healing? Was he occupied instead in efforts to finance and organize an invasion? No records remain to tell us or to inform us of what was happening in Maryland. A document Calvert signed on September 15, 1645 and witnessed by the rebel leader Nathaniel Pope suggests but does not prove Calvert's presence in Maryland on that date. (5d.) Was he at that point a prisoner? Probably not, but such a meeting is mysterious.
Not until July 30, 1646, does Leonard Calvert finally surface as an actor in Maryland affairs. That day he appointed one Captain Edward Hill of Virginia to be governor of Maryland. But in December, Calvert arrived in the colony with soldiers to subdue it. (; ; Riordan, Chap. 15: 2-7.)
There is no certain explanation for this sequence of events and again no record of what was happening. Later documents indicate that under Hill there was a functioning government. Courts heard cases, Hill appointed a sheriff and called for elections to an assembly, which met. Hill seems to have left abruptly but peaceably when Calvert arrived, although he later protested the loss of his office. (Riordan, Chap. 15: 7-9.)
Calvert must always have intended to resume the governorship and may have begun his preparations for return as early as August 5, 1646. On the basis of later documents, this is a likely date for his offering a pardon to all inhabitants of St. Mary's who had been in rebellion, provided that they accepted Lord Baltimore's government. He 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. (; ; Riordan, Chap. 15: 9-30.)
It was another four months before Calvert had Maryland safely secured. 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. (Riordan, Chap. 17: 1-10.)
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. (Russell R. Menard, "Maryland's 'Time of Troubles': Sources of Political Disorder in Early St. Mary's," Maryland Historical Magazine 76 (1981), 137; Riordan, Chap. 17: 4-5.)
Question 2: How many soldiers had Leonard Calvert recruited to recover the colony? What payment did he promise them?
There is no direct mention of how many soldiers Calvert brought with
him, but Timothy Riordan has estimated the number at 28, of whom 13 had
been living in Maryland before the rebellion. Riordan has calculated, from
various payments Margaret made, that the wage owed each soldier was 1500
pounds of tobacco plus three barrels of corn, with more for officers. (Riordan,
"The Time of Plunder," chap. 15: 10-12.)
Question 3: When exactly did Leonard Calvert die? Do we know what killed him? Why did he appoint Margaret Brent his executrix?
Leonard Calvert was alive on June 9, 1647 and lived for about six hours after making Margaret Brent his executrix on that day. Presumably he died on June 9, but possibly not until early on June 10. (, , .)
As for the cause of Calvert's death, there is no information. However, he was not sick for long. On June 1, he was presiding in court. (11.) I have sometimes speculated that illness prevented his return to Maryland sooner and weakened him for whatever sickened him that June. One Doctor Waldron was called from Virginia to treat him. (28.)
Why did Calvert select Margaret Brent to be his executor? Why not ask her brother Giles, who had been acting governor in the past? Or, why not Thomas Green, whom Calvert did name governor? As before, one can only speculate. The Calverts and the Brents were cousins, albeit very distant cousins going back eight generations. (Chart showing connections between the Calvert, Arundel, and Brent families, prepared by Aleck Loker, 1998.) This family connection may help account for the special terms on which Margaret and Mary Brent were granted land. The relationship may have counted in Leonard Calvert's choice.
But why Margaret instead of Giles? First of all, Giles probably was
not in St. Mary's City when Leonard was dying. After his brief appearance
in Maryland in November 1646, he does not turn up in the Maryland records
again until June 19, ten days after Calvert had expired. (13.) However,
Calvert might not have selected Giles had he been on hand. The Governor
had reason to distrust him after his marriage to Mary Kittomaquand. He
had not participated in the restoration of Lord Baltimore's government
and may have been at Piscataway trying to establish his wife as the inheritor
of her deceased father's position. Giles's behavior in the first assembly
held after Calvert's death (see below, Question 4) suggests that distrust
was an appropriate attitude. (39.) At the same time, Calvert knew Margaret
Brent had the necessary ability and courtroom experience to carry out his
instructions. He chose to rely on her.
Question 4. Date and reasons for Margaret Brent's appointment as Lord Baltimore's attorney? What were her powers? Who replaced her when she stopped? When did she lose the responsibility?
On January 3, 1647[/8], it was "moved in Court whether or noe Mr Leon: Calvert (remayning his Lps Sole Attorney within this Province before his death, & then dying) the sd Mr Calvert's admistrator [sic] was to be received for his Lps Attorney wthin this province, untill such time as his Lp had made an new substitution, or tht some other remayning uppon the prnt Commisn were arryved into the province. The Governor demanding Mr Brent's opinion uppon the same Quere. Hee answered tht he did conceive tht the administrator ought to be lookd uppon as Attorney both for recovering of rights into the estate, & taking care for the estates preservation: But not further, until his Lp shall substitute some other as afresd." Governor Thomas Green concurred and "it was ordered tht the Administrator of Mr Leon: Calvert aforesd should be received as his Lps Attorney to the intents abovsd." (19.)
This opinion does not say that Margaret had power to pay away anything belonging to the Proprietor without his consent. However, powers that Lord Baltimore had granted to Calvert and John Lewger on November 15, 1646 had included powers to demand and receive his rents, debts, and other dues and "to dispose thereof as I shall from time to time direct, & in default of such directions, according to yor best discretions, for my most advantage, until I shall give further orders therein." (7.) If Leonard Calvert had been granted such powers, then could Margaret as his substitute exercise them? Evidently she was not sure, nor was her brother. She did not sell any of Lord Baltimore's property until circumstances absolutely demanded it.
It is suggestive, furthermore, that Lord Baltimore did not believe that he had given his brother such powers unless exercised with Lewger. The Proprietor was furious with Leonard for promising the soldiers that the Proprietor's own estate would be liable if necessary. He stated in his letter to the Assembly in 1649 that he had not authorized Leonard to act alone and that Lewger had denyed "to us here" that he had given his assent. (39.) (Apparently, Lewger was in the colony at Calvert's arrival, but had left for England before Calvert's death.)
Why did the Provincial Court -- which consisted at the moment of Governor Thomas Green, Giles Brent, and Thomas Gerard -- choose Margaret Brent? One can only offer speculations. She was already handling Leonard Calvert's estate and negotiating with the soldiers well. Diplomatic talents were essential. Leonard Calvert had put his trust in her with the words "Take all & pay all." And of course, the appointment was only until His Lordship could make his own. (, , .) One might have thought that Giles Brent would have wanted and been able to insist on the appointment, but the other men probably did not trust him.
It is known from the Assembly's letter to Lord Baltimore on April 21, 1649, more than a year later, that Lord Baltimore was very angry at the appointment and at the sale of his cattle that began shortly afterwards. He was equally angry with Giles Brent, who, according to letters from Governor Greene and others, had led an anti-proprietary faction in the Assembly that met off and on from January 22 through March 4 1647[/8]. This Assembly had voted to repeal laws passed in the Assembly of December 1646 -- including the act for tobacco custom intended to pay the soldiers -- and had sent the Proprietor a "seditious" "Remonstrance." (39.) What is not known is just when all this news reached Lord Baltimore. In Maryland, Margaret continued to act as the His Lordship's attorney, and Giles continued to sit on the Council through at least December 10, 1648. (; [31a]; [31b]; ; ; .) Thereafter Giles disappeared from the Council and seems to have left the colony. Margaret appeared for the last time as His Lordships attorney at court on February 9, 1648[/9]. (35.) One can suppose that denunciations and orders from Lord Baltimore arrived soon thereafter.
In the meantime, he had established new officers for Maryland. On August 6, 1648, he commissioned Captain William Stone as governor, and replaced John Lewger with Thomas Hatton as secretary. (Both Stone and Hatton were Protestants.) But he seems not yet to have received news of the events of January-March 1647[/8]. In his instructions to Governor Stone and to a new Council, he declared null and voyd all laws passed under Governor Hill but made no mention of the acts and "Remonstrance" of March 1647[/8] that in his letter of August 26, 1649 he angrily denounced. (29, 39). In August 1648, he must have been ignorant of the spring's events.
The new government was not established in Maryland until after March 15, 1648[/9], the day of the last Provincial Court to meet with Greene sitting as governor. On April 2, Governor Stone convened the Assembly, the first that had met since March 4, 1647[/8]. It seems remarkable that seven months had passed from Stone's appointment to his installation in Maryland and that more than a year had elapsed since the events of January-March, 1647[/8]. Communications between Lord Baltimore in England and his settlers in Maryland clearly were often very slow, whether or not there were crises to be settled. Undoubtedly it was very slow communications that kept Margaret Brent active for a year as His Lordship's attorney in fact. (, .)
Who replaced her? Likely it was Thomas Hatton, the new Provincial secretary,
but there is no correspondence or other direct evidence to prove it. Indirect
evidence suggests the probability. Letters in the Calvert Papers show that
John Lewger had taken care of Lord Baltimore's estate when Lewger was secretary;
and he and Leonard Calvert had shared Lord Baltimore's appointment as attorney
for this purpose in 1646. (John Lewger to Lord Baltimore, January 5, 1638[/9],
Calvert Papers Number One, Fund Publication No. 28 [Baltimore, Md.,
1889], 194-201; .)
Question 5: How soon did the mercenaries become hostile after Calvert's death?
Probably by October 6, 1647, when Captain John Price, in the name of the garrison, got the Provincial Court to attach all of Calvert's estate. (15.)
The request stated the the soldiers were owed 46,500 pounds of tobacco
and 100 barrels of corn for wages.
Question 6: Did Margaret Brent sell all of Leonard Calvert's estate to settle his debts? How many mercenaries were paid directly from the estate? Were there arrangements other than direct payment (land, cattle, etc)?
Margaret Brent recorded an administration account on June 6, 1648. (28) Although Calvert's lands and buildings were added into the inventory, under English law she could not sell these without a court order or a special act of the legislature. They were all available for Calvert's son William to occupy and develop when he arrived in Maryland in 1661 to claim them. The only exception was the 100-acre tract, "The Governor's Field," which Governor William Stone believed he had purchased from Margaret Brent, although she denied the sale. See (51).
Margaret Brent's accounting of Leonard Calvert's estate showed
56,142 pounds of tobacco in assets, but when the land, valued at ll,000 pounds of tobacco, and Lord Baltimore's debt to his brother (18,548 pounds of tobacco "to the estate layd out in Mr Calvert's life") are subtracted, there were only 26,594 pounds of tobacco available to pay Calvert's debts. At the moment of this accounting, Margaret had paid out 23,440 pounds of tobacco and the remaining 3,154 pounds were under attachment for paying the soldiers. (; ; .) Payments already made to the soldiers came to 9,522 pounds of tobacco.
In the April 2-21, 1649, session, the Assembly finally passed a custom of ten shillings for every hogshead exported in a Dutch ship, of which half was to go to His Lordship and half to pay the soldiers. (37.) (This payment was smaller than dictated by the act of 1646.) Thereafter, Margaret referred any soldier applying for payment to his rights under this act. ([31a], .) How many soldiers she had paid off and how much, if any, of Leonard Calvert's movable Maryland estate remained by then I can not tell. The records show that she paid some of the claims with Lord Baltimore's cattle, but if the assertions of the Assembly are to be believed, there may not have been many available. (, , , , , .) Soldiers certainly were not paid in land. In the end, most had to await payments from the tobacco custom finally passed by the Assembly in 1649.
It is clear that Lord Baltimore lost most of his cattle during Ingle's Rebellion. Accounts sent to him late in 1644 showed 93 head, of which 37 were cows or heifers. The Assembly averred that only 12 cows and a bull were left after the depredations of the rebels, although there were unmarked animals in the woods, some of which might be his. (; Archives 4: 276-277; 1: 240-241.)
Question 8. What were the circumstances that surrounded Margaret Brent's request to vote in the Assembly of January-March, 1647/48? What did she hope to gain?
There was a shortage of food, the soldiers were hungry, and they had lost the leader who had promised to pay them. Less than three weeks before the Assembly met, Margaret Brent had been given charge of Lord Baltimore's property, which -- apart from land and ordnance that she would not dare touch -- consisted mostly of livestock, much depleted during the "time of plunder." Undoubtedly, she would have preferred not to sell the animals without his knowledge and consent, but this would take months to obtain. She had to act quickly. Unless the Assembly would agree to keep the tax on tobacco passed by the Assembly of 1646 or would make some other public assessment, she would have to pay the soldiers with cattle. She doubtless knew the burgesses wanted to repeal the tobacco tax and hoped to persuade them to desist. ([12-19]; ; .)
The very day her request to have voice in the Assembly was refused,
she paid a soldier with a cow. (21.)
Question 9. Why did Margaret Brent ask for two votes?
Perhaps she hoped that by providing two reasons for eligibility she
would increase her chances of gaining admission to the Assembly.
Question 10. Did Lord Baltimore offer any assistance towards the costs of recovering his colony? Why did the assembly resist paying the soldiers?
The Assembly members of April 2-21, 1649 argued that -- given the destruction during the rebellion and their consequent poverty -- their efforts to reestablish Lord Baltimore's government were contribution enough. (37.) Lord Baltimore argued that "an Equall Assessment upon all the Inhabitants ... is the justest and usuall way in all Civill Kingdomes and Commonwealths for defraying of publick charges." Princes were not expected to carry the burden of public defense from their private fortunes. They would be ruined and made unable to protect their subjects. (39.)
Both sides made a concession. In 1649, the Assembly passed an act that gave His Lordship and heirs for seven years a custom of 10 shillings per hogshead on tobacco shipped from Maryland in Dutch ships, of which half was to go to claims arising from the recovery and defense of the Province. (37) These provisions were evidently similar to those of the act passed in 1646 and repealed by the Assembly of 1647/48. In addition, the act of 1649 raised an assessment on every inhabitant to pay His Lordship within two years 16 cows and a bull "in consideracon of his Lopps former stock of cattell distributed and disposed of towards the defence and prservacon of the Province." (39.) The following summer, the Proprietor agreed to this arrangement, provided that 1) the Assembly did in fact provide the promised cattle and 2) that it would pass sixteen acts he had sent to the Assembly of 1647[/8] in expectation that it would accept them all without alteration (which it had not done). (39.) Whether any or all of these laws were ever passed without alteration is not clear; we do not know what his contained. Probably some that the Assembly did pass were essentially those Lord Baltimore had sent. Whether or not Lord Baltimore got all that he had demanded, he made no further objection to this inroad on a tax that he might have insisted on keeping for himself.
Question 11: If Margaret Brent had been granted vote and voice, how would that have changed things?
Probably not much, at least with respect to her own position and that
of her brother. She might have persuaded the Assembly not to repeal the
act for tobacco custom passed in 1646, which was supposed to be used to
pay the soldiers, and thereby saved herself from Lord Baltimore's wrath
on the score of her selling property without his consent. But he would
still have been suspicious of her. He was furious with Giles for his role
in the Assembly of March 4, 1647[/8], which 1) refused to recognize the
Assembly of 1646 or any of the laws it had passed on the grounds that Leonard
Calvert had not called for a new election; 2) refused to pass sixteen acts
the Proprietor had sent with orders to pass them as a body unaltered; and
3) prepared a remonstrance that Governor Greene had refused to sign. From
what Lord Baltimore said about this documment, one can infer that it had
criticized the Act for Recognition and the act laying down the wording
of the oath of fealty, two of the sixteen acts. The words objected to were
"Absolute Lord and Proprietary," from which some inferred "a slavery in
the people to us," and "Royall Jurisdiction," seen as exceeding "the power
intended to us by the ... charter." Lord Baltimore interpreted the remonstrance
and rejection of the acts as indications of possible conspiracy against
his auhority and as efforts to alienate the people "from the present government."
(39.) He may also have interpreted Giles's marriage to Mary Kitomaquund
as positioning to acquire Indian lands without a proprietary grant. In
1685, Lord Baltimore's nephew George Talbot said as much to William Penn.
(; "Conference between Penn and Talbot, at New Castle in 1684," Maryland
Historical Magazine 3 ) The fall of the Brents from grace was
undoubtedly inevitable, no matter how conscientious Margaret may have tried
SOME COMMENTS ON MARGARET BRENT
1. The Brents as Catholics.
According to Bruce E. Steiner, Margaret Brent was not a Catholic until a younger sister, Catherine, converted to Catholicism about 1619 and brought the rest of her family along with her. ("The Catholic Brents of Colonial Virgina: An Instance of Practical Toleration," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 70 (1962), 392-393 and note 21.) If true, Margaret must have been at least age nineteen at her own conversion. Of her six sisters, four, including Catherine, became nuns; only one of the sisters married. And when Margaret and her sister Mary, the next oldest, went to Maryland, they remained unmarried in an extraordinarily woman-short society. This history strengthens my conjecture that Margaret and Mary were protected from marriage by vows of celibacy, possibly temporary but regularly renewed.
Recent investigations by Jeanne Cover (Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary) question part of this story. Some Catholic records indicate that the Catherine Brent who entered the English Abbey of Our Lady of Consolation at Cambrai in 1629, aged 27, was the daughter of William Brent of Larkstoke in
County Gloucester. (Publications of the Catholic Record Society 13 (London, l993), 42.) Perhaps the name William is a recordation error, but if not, then Catharine was not the sister of Margaret Brent, whose father was Richard Brent of Lark Stoke and Admington, nor were Catharine's sisters Elizabeth and Eleanor, who also joined the abbey at Cambrai. These three women could have been cousins of some sort to Margaret and Mary Brent, but I can not find on any genealogical charts what William could have fathered them. They were certainly not the children of Margaret and Mary's brother William, since Catharine was born about 1602 and Richard and Elizabeth Reed Brent were not married until 1594. (French, "The Brent Family," charts 3-5.) It seems to me likely but not certain that Catharine and her sisters were indeed the children of Richard and Elizabeth Brent.
Aleck Loker in a recent study questions whether there is any real basis for the story of Catherine's converting her family. Many English Catholics, especially among the men, conformed just enough to avoid the penal laws. Richard Brent began to be labeled a recusant and get into trouble shortly after his daughters broke the family "cover" by entering convents. By this view, the Brents did not suddenly break into Catholicism but, like George Calvert about the same time, elected to go public with their religion. ("Margaret Brent: Attorney, Adventurer, and America's First Suffragette" [ms. in possession of the author], 2-3.)
I have long given thought to the idea that Margaret and Mary Brent had been members of Mary Ward's Institute, an unenclosed order of women who undertook to propagate the faith and strengthen belief through education. This Institute functioned in England, among other places, beginning about 1618, but was finally banned by the Pope in 1631. He gave the nuns three choices: to enter enclosed orders, live together under vows to local bishops, or marry. The English Jesuits had been much opposed to Mary Ward and her Institute, but individual Jesuits, among them Father Andrew White, had been sympathetic. (See Jeanne Cover, Love, the Driving Force: Mary Ward's Spirituality , Its Significance for Moral Theology [Marquette University Press, Milwaukee, WI, 1997], 9-24, 160-161.) It seems possible that the Brent sisters had been part of Mary Ward's Institute. In Maryland, could they have been living together under vows to an English bishop but working with the local Jesuits, among whom was Father White? If so, the sisters escaped mention in the surviving reports sent to Rome by the English Provincial before Ingle's Rebellion temporarily destroyed the mission. ("Extracts from the Annual Letters of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 1634, 1638, 1639, 1640, 1643, 1654, 1656, 1681," in Clayton Coleman Hall, ed., Narratives of Early Maryland, 1633-1684 [New York, 1910), 118-140].) Or were arrangements possible then, as now, for women to take temporary but renewable vows and remain unenclosed?
Mary Ward was clearly a woman of great spiritual power as well as organizational
skills. If Margaret and Mary Brent were a product of her work, they must
have carried great spiritual authority where ever they went, whether or
not they were still bound to celebacy by vows.
2. Margaret Brent as a landholder.
It is often said that Margaret and Mary Brent had vast landholdings in Maryland, and often implied that Margaret was active in management of these resources. This statement is untrue. The two sisters actually took up and developed only the 70½ acres of Sister's Freehold, plus an adjacent 50 acres that came to be known as St. Andrew's. What they had in addition were headrights that entitled them to about 2000 acres of land. (, [1a], [1b], [1d], [51.3].)
On the other hand, Margaret early had responsibility for her brother's manor on Kent Island and eventually for all of Leonard Calvert's land. In 1642, Giles Brent turned over his 1000-acre Kent Fort Manor (all the land he had taken up) to his sister Margaret in return for payment of debts he owed: £73 English money owed her; £30 to £40 English money owed to his uncle Mr. Richard Reed; and some large tobacco debts in Virginia. (1f.) Nevertheless, it is likelly that Giles did not cease to manage the Kent Fort Manor so long as he lived in Maryland. As a councillor he needed to act and be seen as a manor lord. Not until after Ingle's Rebellion does one find mention that Margaret was ever present on Kent. With the return of proprietary government, she 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, 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. (Archives 4: 132-133, 394-395, 417, 419, 434, 435, 436-438, 440-441, 449, 454-56, 489, 517; Archives 10: 4-5; Archives 54: 3, 98 [quote].)
After Margaret joined her brother across the Potomac, there are only two more references to her interest in the manor. The first is in her will, written in 1663, eight years before her death. She left "my lease of Kent Fort Mannor in Maryland" to her nephew Richard, a fact that shows conclusively that she had never surrendered it to Giles. The second is a document in the Kent County records of 1669 granting power of attorney to an agent to collect rents and debts. Evidently by this time, and probably since Giles left Maryland, all the manor had been divided into tenements. ([51.6 (quote)]; French, "The Brent Family," 144-145, 184; Kent County Court Proceedings printed in Archives 54: 273.)
There is some evidence to suggest that after 1651 -- or in Giles's case, 1652 -- neither Giles or Margaret ever dared to visit Maryland again to manage their affairs there. Instead, Mary Brent acted for them. In 1651 Mary was reported to be on Kent Island killing unmarked bulls and sending the meat to St. Mary's to be sold. Secretary Hatton found the meat badly deteriorating in the custody of Thomas Matthews. He seized it and resalted it, and then brought an information against Mary Brent on the grounds that wild cattle belonged to the Proprietor. She defended herself in court, arguing that the cattle on the island were of Giles Brent's stock. The court ordered the sale of the meat, but otherwise postponed judgment to the next meeting of the assembly, which, because of the disruptions after the arrival of the Parliamentary Commissioners early in 1652, did not occur until 1654, when the matter was long forgotten. On two other occasions, both early in 1654, Mary appeared for Giles in actions brought against him in the Maryland Provincial Court. Although Mary appeared in the records but little, she evidently could take action and be a public figure when necessary. She died in 1658, leaving her property to Margaret and after her death to Giles. (French, "The Brent Family," 44-45; Archives 10: 149-152, 164, 327, 335, 348.)
As Leonard Calvert's executor, Margaret held responsibility for his lands, but we know little of how active her management was. With regard to his manor lands, there are few references. At the Provincial Court in December 1648, she asked the opinion of the judges whether Calvert's patents for these lands gave him forfeiture of the tenements that belonged to the rebels. The answer was yes on the grounds that such rights "usually" belonged to the lords of manors in England. (32.) What action Margaret then took, if any, is unknown. The following February she sold 90 acres in Trinity Manor; the buyer was to pay a yearly rent of 9 bushells of corn and do service at the manor court. (35a) A year later, on February 15, 1649[/50], Thomas Sturman brought action against her for disturbing his possession of house and land that he had purchased in good faith. The land -- 1000 acres -- Leonard Calvert had originally granted to Thomas Passmore, but it turned out to be at least partly on one of Calvert's manors. Margaret argued that she had evidence to prove that Sturman had agreed with Calvert to accept part of the land "rendring a Rent and the rest in some other place." She asked and got postponement of the case until November, 1650, so that she could make her proofs, but in November Court she lost. (35b) The last instance arose in March of 1656[/7], after the Brents were long gone from Maryland, and once more Mary Brent, not Margaret, acted. On May 8 , 1654, Henry Potter sold half of his tenement in St. Gabriels's Manor -- thirty-seven and a half acres -- to Martin Kirke for 600 pounds of tobacco plus a yearly payment of 1) half a barrell and 5 pecks of corn and 2) "one poultry and a halfe," to be paid yearly at Christmas at Potter's house. On March 7, 1656[/7], "Att a Court Baron held ... by James Gaylord Steward of Mrs Mary Brent," Kirke "took of the Lady here in full Court ... according to the Custome of the sayd Mannor, One Messuage or tenemt, & Thirty Seaven Acres & halfe of Lande", paying rent as described in Potter's deed to Kirke. However, no mention is here of attending the manorial court. (51.4.) It is likely that the Brents did not try to do more than keep track of tenements and collect rents, if that.
Margaret Brent's long dispute with Governor William Stone over his attempt to purchase the Governor's Field and its house suggests that she was
unclear about her legal position in caring for Calvert's estate. Once the assembly had finally agreed to use a tax on tobacco exports to pay the soldiers, Calvert's estate was no longer liable for their claims. The question then apparently became, what powers did Margaret as executor have over his land, given that Calvert had not specified any legacies? She had used all of his personal estate to pay his debts, but the land remained.
It was to Stone's immediate interest to obtain Leonard Calvert's house and land at St. Mary's. Here at the capital was a tract of very good land with a very large house, although probably not in very good repair after its use as a fort during the years of trouble. He could move in with his family at once. It was in Margaret's interest to sell the property rather than have to expend energy and resources on its upkeep, especially given Lord Baltimore's hostility towards her. She seems at first to have supposed that she had title to it and therefore could sell it with full warranty. Presumably she did not expect to keep the proceeds for her self but to save them or invest them for Leonard's heirs. Stone took possession of the property in expectation of receiving a conveyance and offered her a major part of the price in goods, which she delayed to accept until she could send her shallop. However, doubts about this transaction were already assailing her. On July 22, 1650, she wrote to remind the Governor that she had told him she would "advise with my brother" before she would put a guarantee in writing. "I further told you," she wrote, "that if my title were not good I would return the house into the Inventery, and would not intangle my Self in Maryland because of the Ld Baltemore's disaffections to me and the Instruccons he Sends agt us....I doe not refuse to make you Security for any doubt I have of my title, but because I know it will be more the avoyding of trouble both to you and me to disinterest my Self in it. I will at my comeing down bring with me the Coppy of the Statute to Justifie my right to Mr Calverts Land, and I hope to have a tryall for them in your own Court, and Soe make an end with you to your own content." She then asked Stone to sell the goods he had offered in payment and send her the tobacco. (43,)
This "tryall" was postponed and never took place. Instead, on July 10, 1651, Margaret wrote again, changing the terms of the sale. "My Conveyance of my title unto you which I am now ready to make ... is but that of Mr. Calvert's Admr and which I will not fortify by any bond or warranty." She demanded notice in writing within 20 days whether or not he accepted these terms. ([48c]; ; [51.2b].)
Stone's reply was to bring action against Margaret in November Court, 1651, for refusal to give him a conveyance of the land, even though he had offered her the major part of what was due in the form of goods which she had refused to accept unil he agreed in writing to her demands. He was ready to pay the rest. The Maryland Provincial Court -- which included the Governor -- was frustrated by its inability to force Margaret to appear to answer the complaint. It declared that the Governor and his heirs and assigns could "have hold and enjoy" the property" forever, paying Margaret the remainder of what was due, unless she appeared at the next court. (, [51.2c,d].)
The result was an impasse. On Janurary 5, 1651[/2], Giles Brent, acting as his sister's attorney, in writing warned Stone off the property, but from Virginia he had no way to enforce the command. Stone answered on January 23 by making tender to Margaret Brent of full payment of the 4500 pounds of tobacco. Four witnesses certified to the Provincial Court that 2800 pounds was paid "per account Shewed us under the Governor's own Hand by Ordr of Mrs Margaret Brent, ... the other Seventeen hundred being now paid and tendred by Edmond Wormell." The tender was made in Maryland, not in Virginia, and Margaret seems to have ignored it. In consequence, Stone had no title. When in 1661 Leonard Calvert's son, William, arrived in Maryland to take up his inheritance, Margaret sent to the Provincial Court a deposition that "I never did make any Conveyance of the howse and land of St Marys which formerly was Leonard Calvert's Esqr. to Captaine William Stone and ... neither he nor the heires of the aforesaid William Stone hath any right or tytle to the aforesaid house or Lands." ([51.2e], f[quote], g[quote]).
Margaret Brent evidently had been content to let Stone use the property rather than undergo further legal struggle. As the Governor's residence, it was certain to be maintained and without expense to her. In the end, she was able to help the rightful owner retrieve it. The upshot for Stone was less desirable. His widow, Verlinda, lost The Governor's Field and its house, which he had willed to her. Leonard Calvert's heir, William, obtained it; but this outcome was probably sweetened by his marriage to Stone's daughter Elizabeth. (Wills 1: 89, ms., Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Md.; "William Stone" in Edward C. Papenfuse, et al., eds., A Biographical Dictionary of Maryland Legislators, 1635-1789, 2 [Baltimore, Md., 1985], 788.)
William Calvert promptly sold the house and land to an innkeeper, Hugh Lee, who apparently had already been operating an ordinary there. Soon afterwards Lee died and in 1662, his widow sold the property to the Province. The house became a combined ordinary and capitol building for meetings of the courts and assembly, and around it began the development of St. Mary's City. (51.2g.)
So far as we know, William took up his other lands without argument
and he brought no complaints against his father's executrix. One may wonder
why Lord Baltimore had not tried to get Margaret removed from her office,
given his suspicions of her loyalty. Evidently, he did not think it desirable
to try to overturn his brother's will. The manors probably remained mostly
undeveloped, although there may have been squatters. Rents may have gone
uncollected. Nevertheless, William received from Margaret Brent a mostly
intact landed inheritance.
3. Margaret Brent in court.
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. ([1e], [6a], , , , [27a], , , [31a], [31b], [31c], [31d], , [35b], , [48a], [48b], [51.2]; Archives 4: 149, 169, 181, 191, 192, 213, 214 224, 227, 229.)
Basicly, 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. (Archives
4: 178, 196, 226, 279.) If Mary had remained a widow longer, she undoubtedly
would have appeared as a principal in more cases, but she soon married
Daniel Clocker. (Biographical File of Seventeenth-Century St. Mary's County
Residents, ms., Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Md.) Very few free
women in early Maryland were unmarried for any length of time, a fact that
in itself can account for the general absence of women appearing for themselves.
But Margaret Brent never married.
4. Margaret Brent as guardian to Mary Kitomaquund
In 1640, Father Andrew White converted the Piscataway Tayac to Christianity, and in February of 1641, the Tayac brought his seven-year-old daughter to be educated among the English at St. Mary's. ([1b], [1c]). Margaret Brent and Governor Leonard Calvert became her joint guardians. Sometime between May 8, 1644 and January 7, 1644[/5], Giles Brent married the little girl. (1g). This event probably occurred before October, 1644, when Leonard Calvert returned from England, where he had gone in the spring of 1643 to confer with his brother, the Lord Baltimore. (Archives 3: 130, 160.) It is hard to believe that, if present, Leonard Calvert would have agreed to the marriage, given subsequent events. During the weeks after his return but before Ingle attacked, the court records show him in bitter conflict with Giles. Indeed, not long before Ingle's raid, the Governor ordered the St. Mary's County sheriff to "arrest the Body of Giles Brent Esq, and keepe him in safe custody in the house of John Cook in St Georges hundred, untill I shall call him to make answer to severall crimes agst the dignity & dominion of the right horle the Lord Proprietary of this Province." On the other hand, a few days later, Brent was sitting as a justice again. (Archives 4: 301 (quote), 302.)
Margaret's agreement to the marriage raises several questions. Why did she let her brother marry an 11 years old, who probably had not yet even reached menarche? To our modern eyes, this age seems extraordinary. However, we do find a handful of marriages of 12-year olds in the early Maryland records, the result of the extraordinarily skewed sex ratio. (Russell R Menard and Lorena S Walsh, "The Demography of Somerset County, Maryland: A Progress Report," Newberry Papers in Family and Community History, 81-2 .)
Was her decision affected by her brother's ambitions? A statement made
forty years later by Leonard Calvert's cousin George Talbot hints at what
these might have been. At a conference with William Penn in 1684 at what
is now Newcastle, Delaware, Talbot was making the third Lord Baltimore's
case for lands that he and William Penn both claimed. Talbot mentioned
in passing "Capt Brent who in right of his wife the Piscataway Emperors
daughter and only Child pretended a right to the most part of Maryland
but could doe noe good on't after a great bustle about it." This comment
suggests the origins of Lord Baltimore's wrath against the Brents. The
comment may be hearsay based on reports of the Proprietor's fears more
than actual actions of Giles or Margaret, but the considerable conflict
between Leonard and Giles indicates the Calverts' distrust. In addition,
although 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 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? ([6a]; ;
"Conference Between Penn and Talbot, at New Castle in 1684," Maryland
Historical Magazine, 3 , 30 [quote]). As yet there are no answers
to these questions.
TIME LINE FOR DOCUMENTATION
1. Aug. 2, 1638 Letter, Lord Baltimore to Leonard Calvert, orders that Margaret and Mary Brent shall have a grant of "as much Land in and about the Town of St. Maries and elsewhere in that Province in as ample manner and with as large priviledges as any of the first adventurors have" in respect of four maid servants besides them selves" that came with them and "in respect of the transportation thither of five men in the first year of that Plantation."
"In the Margine of the last foregoing Instruction is thus Entred vizt
This warrant was assigned over by Mrs Margarett Brent unto James Clifton
October 12th 1663, vide Lib AA: fo: 324. Brought into the Province of Maryland
the 22th Novemb 1638 ... 4 maid servants, 4 men servants Thomas Ged Samuel
Pursall Francis Slaver John Stepens Mary Taylor Elizabeth Guesse Mary Lawne
Patents 1: 30-31.
1a. Nov. 22, 1638 "Came into the Province, 22th Novr 1638 .... Mr. Giles
Brent and Mr.Fulke Brent who returned in March following. Mrs Margaret
Brent Mrs Mary Brent, who transported Mary Taylor, Elizabeth Guest Mary
Lawne Elizabeth Brooks maid Servants, John Robinson Goodwin blacksmith."
Patents 1: 18.
1b. Oct. 6, 1639 "Mr Surveyor I would have you to Set forth a Portion of Town Land for Mrs Margarett and Mrs Mary Brent containing to the quantity of Seventy acres or thereabouts lye nearest together about the house where they now dwell."
Oct. 7, 1639 Survey of 70½ acres of Town Land, on the north bounding on
Giles Brent's land etc.
Oct. 10, 1639 Patent for above.
Patents 1: 31-33.
1c. After Feb. 15, 1640[1/]. The "King" of the Piscataway "brought his
daughter, seven years old ... to be educated among the English at St. Mary's,
and when she shall well understand the Christian mysteries, to be washed
in the sacred font of baptism. Annual Letters of the Jesuits; from the
Annual Letter of 1640 in Clayton Coleman Hall ed., Narratives of
Early Maryland, 1633-1684 (New York, 1910, reprinted 1946), 132.
1642 "Not long after, the young Empress (as they call her) of Pascataway
was baptized in the town of St. Mary's and is being educated there, and
is now a proficient in the English language."A Narrative derived from
the Letters of Ours, out of Maryland  in Hall, ed., Narratives
of Early Maryland, 133-134.
Note: This child is the ward of Margaret Brent. See below (1g).
1d. April 25, 1642 "Margaret and Mary Brent demand 1000 acres of Land
Due by Conditions of Plantation for transporting 5 men into the Province
aforesaid the 25th march last vizt Thomas Gidd Samuell Pursall Francis
Slower John Stephens John Delahey
Vide Margarett Brents assignment to John Brooke Lib GG fol 241"
Patents 1: 24.
Note: These are the same men mentioned in (1) but she had not yet claimed
them as head rights.
1e. Aug. 4, 1642. Margaret Brent brings five actions in the Provincial
Court. Archives 4: 118-119.
Note. These are her first appearances in court to bring actions in her
own name, but this fact does not mean she had never acted for herself in
court before. Nearly all court proceedings, except those in probate, are
missing before 1642.
1f. Oct. 18, 1642. Giles Brent conveys to Margaret Brent all lands,
goods, debts, cattle, and servants for payment of £73 in English
money he owes her, plus £40-£60 he owes to his uncle Mr. Richard
Reed, 14,000 pounds of tobacco he owes to Mr. William Blunt, 4,000 pounds
of tobacco he owes to Mrs. Purfrey of Virginia, plus other smaller debts.
1g. March 14, 1643. Court orders attachment of 7,000 pounds of tobacco
worth of chattels of Leonard Calvert until he or his attorney answers the
suit of Margaret Brent "guardian to Mrs. Mary Kitomaqund" in an action
of debt on March 16. Archives 4:259-260.
March 16, 1643. "Margaret Brent guardian of mary Kitomaqund orphan
p attorn Francis anthill" demands of Leonard Calvert Esq 7000 pounds of
tobacco "for the price of 4 kine & 4 yong cattell & 3. calves due
to the said orphan by the assumption of the said Leonard, for so much of
her estate remaining in his hands upon acct of his guardianship."
May 8, 1642 "Sold unto Mrs Mary Kitomaquund, foure kine, three yearling
heifers, one yearling bullock, two bull calves, & 2. cow calves of
his Lops stock, now being in the possession of mrs Margarett Brent; for
the price of five thousand seven hundred wt of tob & cask, received
by us of the said mary Kitomaquund to his Lops use afore the signing hereof.
And we does hereby on his Lops behalfe warrant the said Kine & their
encrease unto the said mary and her assignes against all men." Signed by
Giles Brent, John Lewger and William Brainthwait. Archives 4: 271-272.
Note: These court entries are the first direct evidence that Margaret
Brent and Leonard Calvert were guardians to Mary Kitomaquund. At this time,
Leonard Calvert is in England.
Jan., 9 1644[/5]. Lewger delivers to Leonard Calvert the petition of
"Giles Brent Esq, and of mary his wife to the horle the Counsell of the
Province." Asks Calvert to deliver to the Brents Mary's cattle or the value
thereof to 5700 pounds of tobacco. Archives 3: 162.
Note: This is the first evidence that the Brents are married. Mary was
only eleven years old. Calvert evidently refused to acknowledge the arrangements
made in his absence for supplying Mary with a dowry. Doubtless the marriage,
which must have taken place between May 8 and this date, upset and angered
2. After Jan. 8, 1644. Ingle arrives in the St. Mary's river, but
departs for Virginia. Timothy B. Riordan, "The Plundering Time: Maryland
in the English Civil War, 1642-1650" (ms. in possession of the author,
Historic St. Mary's City, St. Mary's City, Md.), chap. 11: 6-8.
2a. Jan. 9, 1644. Last date in Council records before Ingle attacks.
3. Feb. 4, 1644[/5]. Last day business is conducted in the Provincial
Court before Ingle attacks.
4. Feb. 11, 1644. Last assembly before Ingle attacks. Only business
recorded was passage of an Act for the Defense of the Province" dealing
with a garrison at Piscataway for protection against Indians. Archives
Feb. 13, 1644[/5]. Above act published. Archives 1: 205.
Note: No indication here that an attack from Ingle is expected.
5. Feb. 14-15, 1644[/5]. Reformation, under Captain Richard Ingle, sails up the St. Mary's river. The crew captures the Dutch ship Looking Glass, with Giles Brent aboard and loots and sacks Thomas Cornwaleys plantation. Cornwaleys himself is in England; his servant Cuthbert Fenwick is in charge. Riordan, "The Plundering Time," ch. 11: 9-21; "Richard Ingle in Maryland," Maryland Historical Magazine 1 (1906), 125-140; HCA 13/60 /sections G, K, L, Public Record Office, London, photocopy at Historic St. Mary's City and typed transcript at Historic St. Mary's City and History Office, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD.; "Richard Ingle in Maryland."
Note: These are the first steps of the Rebellion.
5a. February until after April 10, 1645. Leonard Calvert and his supporters
build St. Thomas's Fort, probably around the buildings of Giles, Margaret,
and Mary Brent on the St. Mary's river. Calvert operates from here until
Ingle's departure. The Maryland rebels take the fort sometime afterwards,
but Leonard Calvert has escaped to Virginia. Riordan, "The Plundering Time,"
Note: If St. Thomas's fort was at this location -- archaeological investigation
is needed to confirm the site -- the Brent sisters must have been to some
degree active in the colony's defense.
5b. April 10, 1645. Ingle takes on 70 hogsheads of tobacco in Virginia. Riordan, "The Plundering Time," chap. 12: 32; Susie Ames, ed., County Court Records of Accomack-Northampton , Virginia, 1640-1645 (Charlottesville, Va., 1973), 437.
Note: Ingle has left Maryland.
5c. June 13, 1645. Earliest depositions taken in Ingle vs.
Glass show that Ingle is now in England. Riordan, "The Plundering Time,"
chap. 12: 33; chap. 14: 10; HCA 13/60, Section E, June 13, 1645, Public
Record Office, London (photocopy at Historic St. Mary's City, typed transcript
at HSMC and HSMC History Office, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, MD.)
5d. Sept. 15, 1645. "These presents doe testify that I Leon: Calvert Esqr doe assigne & make over all my right, tytle & interest, in two thowsand powned Weight of good Merchble leafe Tob: & Cask. Remayning due unto mee from Mr. Tho: Gerrard of St. Clemts hundd in the province of Mary-Land gent, uppon acct unto Edw: Packer lately imployed in received Tob: for mee in the foresd province. Witnes my hand this 15th Septembr 1645. L. Calvert
Signed & delivered in the prnce of
The mk N of Nathaniel Pope"
Query: Where was Calvert when he made this assignment? In Maryland?
Nathaniel Pope was a leader of the rebels.
Note: This document was recorded on Dec. 3, 1647 in connection with Margaret Brent vs. Thomas Gerard. Archives 4: 348-352 (document above is on 351-352).
6. July 30, 1646. Leonard Calvert in Virginia appoints Captain Edward
Hill as temporary governor of Maryland and revokes all earlier commissions
under his powers from Lord Baltimore to appoint a governor when in His
Lordship's service he had to be out of the Province. Archives 3:
6a. Nov. 6, 1646. Giles Brent appoints Margaret Brent as his attorney
to "demand sue for and recover all debts, goods, and cattell appertayning
to mee in Maryland or due from any persons there unto mee with full power
to give discharg for the sume received and to the said effects to appoint
& constitute any other party to bee my lawfull Attorney....Witness
my hand. In the presence of Richard Powers, Mary Brent." Archives
Note: The above was not entered into the Maryland records until June 24, 1650. Since this document was witnessed by Mary Brent,
Giles must have been in Maryland when he created it. Whether he remained
there is unclear. He does not appear in the records again until June 19,
1647, after Leonard Calvert's death. The records between November 6 and
June 19 are too few to prove Brent's absence. He may have been at his manor
at Kent, but actions brought later in the Provincial Court for damages
to the Brents' property at Kent suggest deep unrest there without indicating
Brent's presence. Archives 4: 399, 417, 454-456. Aleck Loker has
suggested to me that Brent went to Piscataway to negotiate territory with
his wife's Indian family. Or did he go to Virginia? Why did he not join
in Calvert's re-establishment of proprietary authority? There are mysteries
7. Nov. 15, 1646. Lord Baltimore grants Leonard Calvert and John Lewger power to demand and receive his rents, debts, and other dues and "to dispose thereof as I shall from time to time direct, & in default of such direction, according to yor best discretions, for my most advantage, until I shall give further orders therein."
Archives 3: 172-173.
8. Dec. 29, 1646-Jan. 2, 1646[/7]. Governor Leonard Calvert calls an
assembly, which meets at St. Inigoes Fort. He informs the members "that
they weare caled hither as Freemen to treat and advise in assembly touching
all matters as freely and boldly wthout any awe or feare and with the same
Liberty as at any assembly they might have don heretofore, and that they
weare now Free from all restraint of their persons and should be Free during
the assembly Saveing only to hymselfe after the end of the Assembly, such
charge as he had or hath, against any for any cryme committeed since the
last generall Pardon." Calvert then has six witnesses sworn, who testify
that the Governor "afore their comeing upp out of Virginia declared to
all the Souldiers in publicke and to these deponents in particulr... that
if he found the Inhabitants of St Maries had accepted his pardon for thier
[sic] former rebellion and weare in obedience to his Lorp the Souldiers
weare to expect no pillage there but he would receave the inhabitants in
peace and only take aid from them to the reduceing of Kent." The pardon
referred to probably explains the terminal date of the amnesty given in
the Act for Oblivion passed on April 29, 1650. Archives 1: 209 (quotes);
The assembly of 1646 passes two acts that we know of, one for customs
and one for judicature. Archives 1: 210. Later correspondence between
the Proprietor and the assembly shows that the members of this assembly
were those still in Maryland who had attended an assembly earlier in 1646
called by Captain Edward Hill. See above, (6) and below (37; 39).
9. Jan. 19, 1646[/7]. First entry for the Provincial Court since Ingle.
9a. Jan. 14-16, 1646[/7]. Proceedings to contain "seditious" activity
of six anti-proprietary leaders who were spreading rumors that Parliament
would soon send forces against Maryland. Archives 3: 175-78.
April 16, 1647. Leonard Calvert pardons men at Kent who have taken oath
of fidelity. Archives 3: 182.
10. June 1, 1647. Leonard Calvert presides in court. Archives
11. June 10, 1647. Margaret Brent deposes before the council that on
June 9, Governor Calvert "being lying on his death bed, did by word
of mouth on the Ninth of this month nominate Thomas Greene Esq Governor
of the Province of Maryland." Archives 3: 187.
12. June 17, 1647. Captain John Price, captain of the fort at St. Inigoes,
notifies the Governor of the shortage of corn.
June 18, 1647. Governor Greene orders impressment of any surplus corn
in any household at 120 pounds of tobacco per barrell within the Province
on the Proprietor's account for the maintenance of the fort.
13. June 19, 1647. Margaret Brent asks the Governor to give testimony
Under oath about Leonard Calvert's nuncupatory will. Greene asks Giles
Brent, Esq. "one of his Lops Councell" to administer the oath. Greene states
that about six hours before Calvert died, he said to Margaret Brent "I
make you my sole Exequutrix, Take all, & pay all." The court then makes
Margaret administrator of Calvert's estate. Archives 4: 312-313.
Note: Giles Brent was in Maryland on Nov. 6, 1646 (see above, 6a), but
does not appear again in any record until the above date, after Leonard
Calvert's death. Was he in Virginia? or at Kent Island? If he had been
at St. Mary's when Calvert died, would Calvert have made Giles his executor?
Or was Giles in fact on hand and ignored? This last I doubt. If he had
been in St. Mary's he likely would have been present with his sisters at
Calvert's death bed. See (6a) and Comment 4.
14. June 30, 1647. Leonard Calvert's inventory is recorded. Archives
15. Oct. 6, 1647. Captain John Price on behalf of himself and all the
soldiers at the fort asks and receives an attachment on the whole estate
of the late Governor Leonard Calvert. The estate owes for wages 45,600
pounds of tobacco and 200 barrels of corn. Archives 4: 338.
16. Nov. 8, 1647. Governor Greene issues a proclamation forbidding the
export of corn because of shortages.
17. Nov. 18, 1647. Walter Beane vs. Margaret Brent, administrator of
Leonard Calvert. Margaret Brent acknowledges the debt to be due. "Judgmt
respited till next Court, in respect of Mr. Calvert's estate tht is now
in defts hands is allready attached att the suite of the garryson. And
tht shee can part wth noe part of it till shee hath made answere thereunto.
18. Jan. 3, 1647[/8]. In Price v. Brent (see 15), Margaret Brent denies
same is due and demands privilege of an administrator not to be troubled
for a twelfth month and a day. Archives 4: 357.
19. Jan. 3, 1647[/8]. "Moved in Court whether or noe Mr Leon: Calvert
(remayning his Lps Sole Attorney within this Province before his death,
& then dying) the sd Mr Calvert's admistrator [sic] was to be received
for his Lps Attorney wthin this province, untill such time as his Lp had
made an new substitution, or tht some othr remayning uppon the prnt Commisn
were arryved into the province. The Governor demanding Mr Brent's opinion
uppon the same Quere Hee answered tht he did conceive tht the administrator
ought to be lookd uppon as Attorney both for recovery of rights into the
estate, & taking care for the estates preservation: But not further,
until his Lp shall substitute some other as aforesd And thereupon The Governr
concur'd. And it was ordered tht the Administrator of Mr Leon: Calvert
aforesd should be received as his Lps Attorney to the intents abovesd."
20. Jan. 20, 1647[/8]. The assembly meets at St. John's. Archives
Jan. 21, 1647[/8]. "Came Mrs Margaret Brent and requested to have vote
in the howse for herselfe and voyce allso for that att the last Court 3d
Jan: it was ordered that the said Mrs Brent was to be lookd uppon and received
as his Lps Attorney. The Govr denyed that the sd Mrs Brent should have
any vote in the howse And the sd Mrs Brent protested agst all proceedings
in this pnt Assembly unlesse shee may have vote as aforesd." Archives
21. Jan. 21, 1647[/8]. Margaret Brent sold to William Whittle one cow
of Lord Baltimore's stock as part paymt for wages. Archives 4: 449.
Note: This is Margaret Brent's first sale of livestock from Lord Baltimore's
22. Jan. 22, 1647[/8]. Second sale of an animal from Lord Baltimore's
stock: "Sold and delivered by me Margaret Brent gentelwm & Attorney
to my Lord unto Anthony Rawlings one browne pyed heighfer of his Lps stock."
23. Jan. 24, 1647[/8]. There is no corn to be had. The soldiers are
destitute. The Assembly authorizes measuring everyone's corn and impressing
all surplus for the soldiers. Archives 1: 217-218.
24. Feb. 16, 1647[/8]. Margaret Brent sold to John Ward of St. Inego's
Fort one brown cow from Lord Baltimore's stock. Archives 4: 373.
25. Feb. 24, 1647[/8]. Margaret Brent sold a heifer from Lord Baltimore's
stock to Thomas Allen, whose heifer had been impressed to feed the soldiers
at St. Inigoes Fort. Archives 4: 374.
25a. Feb. 29, 1647/48. Oath of Captain John Price, taken in open Assembly,
that Leonard Calvert had promised the soldiers that he would pay them from
his own estate and from that of the Proprietor if his were not enough,
and by "sale of his Lps patent" if necessary. Archives 1: 226-227.
26. Mar. 4, 1647[/8]. Governor Thomas Greene pardons all rebels except
Richard Ingle, for events from February 14, 1644[/5] through April 16,
1647. Archives 3: 195.
27. Mar. 6, 1647[/8]. Margaret Brent sells two "ox yearly calves" of
his Lopps stock to Edward Cottom, carpenter.
Archives 4: 378-379.
27a. April 6, 1648. Margaret Brent, as Lord Baltimore's attorney, is
the defendant in Henry Hooper chyrurgion vs. His Lordship's attorney for
"surgery & Physick to the soldiers during the time of the garryson."
Note: There is implication here that the garrison has been disbanded.
28. June 6, 1648. Margaret Brent's administration account for Leonard Calvert's estate is recorded. Archives 4: 388-389. Shows:
a. 56,142 pounds of tobacco in total credits. 11,000 is in land and
houses and 18548 in Lord Baltimore's debt "to the estate layd out in Mr.
b. 23,440 pounds of tobacco in total debts paid.
Note that when land and Lord Baltimore's debt -- which could not be
immediately drawn upon, supposing the Proprietor agreed that he was liable
-- are subtracted from credits, only 3,154 pounds of tobacco are left for
future debts payable.
c. paid 1,250 pounds of tobacco for Dr. Waldron's fee and 80 pounds for provision for carrying him "down to Virginia"
d. paid 9,522 pounds of tobacco to the soldiers.
29. August 6, 12, 17 1648. Lord Baltimore commissions Captain William
Stone as governor, Thomas Hatton as secretary (both Protestants), a council,
with powers to the governor to make additional appointments, and other
officers of his government. Included in his arrangements is a nullification
of anything done under Captain Edward Hill. In addition, he sends 16 laws
he requests the assembly to pass as a group, without alterations, and,
if they obey, a nullification of all laws previously enacted. Archives
3: 199-221. Note that it may have taken many weeks for news of these actions
to reach Maryland.
30. Sept. 23, 1648. Anthony Rawlings vs. Margaret Brent, His Lordship's
attorney, for two barrels of corn due a soldier who had assigned it to
him. Edward Hull vs. Margaret Brent, His Lordship's attorney for "2 barrels
of corn the last yeare, due for Soldiers wages." Archives 4: 411.
31. Oct. 3, 1648. Rawlings vs. Brent, His Lordship's attorney (see above,
(30)). Margaret concedes that the corn is due and asks delay until it can
be raised from His Lordship's revenues. Archives 4: 414.
31a. Oct. 5, 1648. John Hampton by his attorney John Hallowes vs. Margaret Brent, administrator of Leonard Calvert, 500 pounds of tobacco due for wages. "The deft denyeth the sd 500 pounds to be due from the admistrr because it was for publike employment And if it were due, tht shee hath not assetts in her hand, the sd Govrs estate being by Act of Assembly applyed to the paymt of the Garrison Soldiers of St Inegoes ffort." Archives 4: 419.
Note: The act must be the act passed in March 1647 establishing the 10 shilling per hogshead custom, half to be used to pay for the expenses of recovery of the colony. See (37). Lord Baltimore has not yet responded.
31b. Oct. 5, 1648. Margaret Brent acts on behalf of His Lordship "tht
stoppige (sic) may bee made of a Cow & her increase now in the possesn
of Mr Thomas Copley, & claimed by Willm Harditch & intended to
be transported out of this province by him Untill hee shall have made his
tytle better appeare thereunto, then as yett he hath done, Conceyving his
Lp to have an Interest in all uncertain tytles." Archives 4: 420.
31c. Oct. 9, 1648. Margaret Brent acts for the Lord Proprietor in the
motion that Mr. Thomas Copley may demand and receive the rents for several
tenements on the "Manor of St. Mary's" until "final determination of the
difference now depending" between Copley and the Proprietor. She asks and
receives court permission for this arrangement. Archives 4: 426.
31d. Nov. 6, 1648. Margaret Brent as His Lordshhip's attorney complains
and proves that Edward Commins has defied an order of the Governor and
said that there was no law in the province. The court fined him 2,500 pounds
of tobacco for contempt. Archives 4: 434.
Note: Here it appears that MB is acting as an attorney at law, not just
in fact, to prosecute a contempt. This is going way beyond the jurisdiction
granted her. Commins's contemptuous speech to her may have been made in
connection with a long-standing dispute she had been litigating with him
over the Brent properties on Kent Island, in which case, she was not prosecuting
the contempt but complaining as a litigant. The record is not clear on
32. Dec. 7, 1648. Margaret Brent asks the opinion of the Provincial
Court as to whether Governor Leonard Calvert's patent for his manors gave
him the forfeiture of the tenements that belonged to rebel tenants. The
Court answers yes: such rights "usually" belonged to the lords of manors
in England. Archives 4: 457.
33. Dec. 7, 1648. Giles Brent is still a member of the council and sitting
as a Provincial Court judge. He has missed very few sessions since his
return to Maryland a few days after the death of Leonard Calvert. But this
is his last appearance. Archives 4:458. News of Stone's appointment
may have arrived, along with notice of Lord Baltimore's displeasure with
34. Jan. 8, 1648[/9]. Governor Greene adjourns the court to February
5. Archives 4: 466.
35. Feb. 9-10, 1648[/9]-April, 1650. On Feb. 9-10, the Provincial Court
sits, with the Governor as the only judge. Although the Governor is not
mentioned by name in the proceedings, Greene signs a document on the last
day of this court calling himself Governor of Maryland.
On the first day of this court, Margaret Brent makes her last appearance as His Lordship's attorney in a case she had brought against Thomas Cornwallis concerning the half of a forfeiture, of what or for what is not told. The case is postponed and never appears again. She continues to appear at this and later sessions in her own right, as Leonard Calvert's administrator, and occasionally as her brother's attorney. Archives 4: 470-474, 477, 481, 494-495, 514, 516, 517, 518, 521, 524, 527, 529, 532 540-541; Archives 10: 4, 5, 6-7.
35a. Feb. 9, 1648[/9]. Margaret Brent, executrix of Leonard Calvert,
sells 90 acres of land in Trinity Creek in Trinity Manor to Henry Pountney
for 950 pounds of tobacco, for which she has received satisfaction, he
paying yearly 9 bushells of merchantable corn at Christmas and doing service
at the manor court. Patents 2: 437.
36. Mar. 15, 1648[/9]. The last court of the year is held at St. John's.
There is no mention of who presided and very little business is conducted.
37. April 21, 1649. Last day of Governor William Stone's first Assembly.
Proceedings of this Assembly, which began April 2, have survived only for
this last day. They consist mostly of a letter to Lord Baltimore, read
to the Assembly and signed by the Governor, the Council, and all burgesses
present. (Note the implication that this Assembly sat in two houses.) Archives
1: 235, 238-243.
I offer a brief summary of this letter. It:
1. defends Margaret Brent as a saviour in a time of crisis, not deserving
the opprobrium the Proprietor has cast upon her.
2. attacks the Assembly of Dec 27-29, 1646 as illegal, since Leonard
Calvert had not called for the election of a new assembly but had called
the men who had sat in Edward Hill's Assembly. These were mostly rebels.
3. asserts that at most 12 cows and a bull of his were used to pay the
4. argues that Leonard Calvert and John Lewger had both promised payment
from the proprietor's estate for soldiers wages if necessary.
5. protests the sixteen laws Lord Baltimore has sent to be passed as
perpetual, without change, as a block (arguing first, that they are too
hard to understand and time is needed to consider them and second, that
the members of the Assembly have to get back to their crops at that time
6. analyzes the proposed laws in so far as the Assembly understands them as intended
a. to preserve the country and govern it in peace with justice;
b. to raise some competent support to the Proprietor and his governor;
c. to raise a stock of cattle to replace those taken from the Proprietor's estate;
d. to satisfy all who had supported the Proprietor.
7. informs the Proprietor that from his sixteen laws the Assembly has selected those parts most conducive to confirm a settled peace and has added others to fit the colonies needs.
a. For Lord Baltimore's support, the Assembly has voted
that he and his heirs shall have a custom of 10 shilllings in tobacco per hogshead of tobacco shipped from the colony in Dutch ships, one half of this custom to be used to pay for the recovery and defense of the province, all claims to be brought to the secretary's office by the last of March next.
b. There shall be an assessment on all inhabitants to raise within two
years 16 cows and a bull, "by a third more than ever was known to be found
certainly of your Lordships own Proper stock in this Colony since the Recovery
of the same."
8. asks Lord Baltimore please to ratify the disposition already made
of his estate, according to the engagement his brother had made.
9. asks Lord Baltimore to use forfeiture of estates rather than the
swearing of loyalty oaths to keep men honest.
10. asks him to send no more bodies of laws for them to pass, but to
forward instead "some short heads of what is desired" and let the Assembly
draw them up.
Note: The letter states the custom as 10 tobacco per hogshead; the act
as recorded more clearly indicates the meaning, saying 10 shillings per
38. June 1, 1649. Henry Pountney demands from Margaret Brent a cow and
two year's increase, it being for his pay as a soldier. The cow she had
paid him turned out not to belong to Lord Baltimore. Margaret defends only
as Leonard Calvert's executrix and pleads no assets. The court rules that
Pountney should now "be paid as other souldiers that are yet unsatisfied."
Note: The court was referring to the act mentioned in (37) whereby soldiers
were to be paid from the 10 shillings per hogshead custom on tobacco shipped
in Dutch ships.
39. Aug. 26, 1649. Declaration of Lord Baltimore to Governor William
Stone and the Assembly of April 6-21, 1649. This document answers the Assembly's
letter of April 21, in the process giving us further details about the
aftermath of Ingle's Rebellion, as well as criticizing the Assembly and
the Brents and giving further instructions.
This declaration had probably arrived with other letters and instructions
by January 24, 1649[/50]. That day Governor Stone called for the election
of a new Assembly to be held beginning April 2. The new Assembly in fact
began its duties on April 6, when the declaration was read. Archives
In the brief summary that follows, I indicate the page numbers as I progress through the document.
The Proprietor's declaration:
1. asserts and defends the legality of the Assembly of December 29-January
2, 1646[/7], called as an extension of the Assembly called by Captain Edward
Hill. Pp. 262-266.
2. asserts, therefore, the legality of laws passed by the December 1646
Assembly, which, he says, the next Assembly repealed as illegal on March
4, 1647[/8]. Pp, 266-267. (We know of this repeal only through this comment.)
3. accuses Giles Brent of leading a faction in the January 29-March
4, 1647[/8] Assembly that induced it to approve a Remonstrance "tending
to deprive us of divers Essentiall parts of our undoubted Jurisdiction
and Rights in that Province." Governor Greene refused to approve this act.
4. issues dissent to several parts of an act Greene did assent to:
a. preamble (text unknown);
b. Third Part, "Touching Levyes and Judgments which pretends in one Clause thereof a Nulli[fication] of the aforesaid Assembly [...] at St. Inigoe's the Second of January" 1646[/7] "and stiles it a Pretended Genner[al] Assembly";
c. Fourth and Fifth Parts, on officers fees and the oath of fidelity,
which also call the December 29, 1646-Jan.2, 1646[/7] Assembly "a Pretended
Generall Assembly." P. 267.
5. asserts that Leonard Calvert had no power to dispose of any of His Lordship's estate without agreement of John Lewger, who has denied here (that is, in England) that he ever joyned in such an engagement to pay the soldiers. (Lord Baltimore is referring to the power of attorney he gave jointly to Lewger and Calvert in November 1646. See ). If Leonard Calvert ever made such a promise, says Lord Baltimore, he must have done it supposing that the Proprietor would be repaid from the customs on tobacco exported, which the December 29, 1646-January 2, 1646[/7] Assembly passed for defense of the Province and the January 29-March 4, 1646[/7] Assembly repealed. P. 268.
6. protests the settlers view that he and not they should pay for defense,
arguing that "an ... Equall Assessment upon all the Inhabitants ... is
the justest and usuall way in all Civill Kingdomes and Commonwealths for
defraying of publick charges." P. 269.
7. offers to his settlers what he clearly considers to be a compromise.
To show "wee preferr their Welfare before our owne particular advantage,
and that wee are unwilling to dissent from any of the proceedings of the
General Assemblyes there, but such only as necessitate us so to doe, for
the Vindication of our honnor and just rights, which in truth tend to the
preservation of theirs, as depending upon ours," the Proprietor will allow
half the custom due himself on tobacco exported in Dutch ships to be put
towards satisfying the costs of the recovery and defense of the Province.
He set two conditions: that the Assembly enact the 16 laws he sent last
year; and that the 16 cows and one bull be raised and delivered to "the
Commissioners of our Treasury" in Maryland as promised in the Act for the
Support for the Lord Proprietary passed on April 21, 1649. P. 270.
39a. Feb. 15, 1649[/50]. Thomas Sturman brings action against Margaaret
Brent for disturbing him in his possession of a house and plantation of
1000 acres, part of one of Leonard Calvert's manors. Margaret Brent challenges
his right to this land, claiming that he had agreed with Governor Calvert
to pay rent for part of the land and accept the rest in some other place.
Case is postponed until November court. Archives 4: 541.
39b. April 13, 1650. Margaret Brent gives "her loving ffriend George
Manners" power of attorney "to demand sue for and recover all debts goods
or other dues belonging to mee, my brother Giles Brent" from any one in
Maryland or to answer any suits against them "after notice from mee." Archives
Note: About this time Margaret and her sister must have departed to
40. April 29, 1650. Act of Oblivion enacted. Archives 1: 301. Its provisions were as follows:
1. No more civil causes for damages or breach of contract concerning
the rebellion are to be brought before the Maryland Provincial Court.
2. All those guilty of capital offenses committed between February 15, 1644[/5] and August 5, 1646 are pardoned, excepting Captain Richard Ingle, Captain John Durford, and all Kent Islanders not pardoned by Governor Leonard Calvert's pardon of April 16, 1647.
3. All actions "to recover Price" (i.e. payment?) for goods or labor
"imployed during the said-tyme for the defence of the Country" are abolished.
4. No contracts made by those in rebellion for aiding rebellion are
actionable, and all contracts that concern plundered goods are void unless
action is brought by the party who is the true owner.
5. For better preservation of the peace, no one is to revile anyone
for anything pardoned by this act.
41. May 20, 1650. Thomas Johnson, merchant, testifies that there was
an agreement between Mrs. Margaret Brent and Capt. Wm Stone for one house
and 100 acres with all things thereuntil belonging. The house was at St.
Mary's and belonged formerly to Governor Calvert. Captain Stone agreed
to allow Mrs. Brent 4,500 weight of tobacco on condition that she would
engage herself to defend him from all just claimes. Mrs. Brent was content
to underwrite the bill of sale and received some goods in part payment,
which she left in Capt. Stone's hands until the return of her shallop.
42. June 25, 1650. Manners acts for Margaret Brent in Thompson vs. Leonard
Calvert's executor. Archives 10: 26-27.
43. July 22, 1650. Margaret Brent to Captain William Stone. "I received
your letter by Mr. Copley concerning the assurance to you of my house at
St Maries, which I did once Offer to Secure to you against all Just claymes,
but at our last parting you cannot forget that I desired you to See in
the Records what right I had to it, and that I would advise with my brother
before I would Make any writeing to you I further told you that if my title
were not good I would return the house into the Inventery, and would not
intangle my Self in Maryland because of the Ld Baltemore's disaffections
to me and the Instruccons he Sends agt us This Sr if please you to call
to mind what past I know you will remember, Yet verily Sr I doe not refuse
to make you Security for any doubt I have of my title, but because I know
it will be more for the avoyding of trouble both to you and me to disinterest
my Self in it I will at my comeing down bring with me the Coppy of the
Statute to Justife my right to Mr Calverts Land, and I hope to have a tryall
for them in your own Court, and Soe I shall make an end with you to your
own content I beseech you Sr be pleased to dispose of those goods I laid
by because I have been forced to provide my Self by my brother in Virginia,
Soe I Shall want the Tobacco to furnish ourselves with other things."
44, 45 eliminated.
46. Aug. 6, 1650. Declaration of Lord Baltimore to the Assembly that
met March 11, 1650/1. It:
1. ratifies "such Sale and disposition of our stock of Neate Cattle
and personall Estate there as was made thereof from and after the death
of our late deare brother" until April 21, 1649, provided the promise to
raise 16 cows and a bull for His Lordships use is fulfilled.
2. excepts from this confirmation "our ordinance and also such other things of ours as did at that tyme ... remaine in the hands of Mrs Margarette Brent undisposed of, or that were or have at any other tyme before or since bine sould or disposed of by her to her brother Mr Gyles Brent or to her Sister Mrs Mary Brent or to any other pson or persons in trust for them."
Archives 1: 316-317.
Note: This document indicates continued distrust of Margaret Brent and
47. Sept. 2, 1650. Provincial Court meets. It is credibly reported that
Giles Brent has done or attempted to do "divers things prjudiciall to the
right honble the Lo: Propry of this Province and his undoubted right and
title thereunto and contrary to the trust reposed in him by his said Lopp."
Court appoints George Manners to be His Lordships Attorney "to make diligent
inquisicon" into this charge and prosecute him in the Provincial Court.
Note: Nothing further appears in any record.
48. Oct.-Nov. courts, 1650, Feb. court, 1650/. Margaret Brent is
present. Active in defending Leonard Calvert's manors and her brother's
interests in cattle running wild on Kent Island. Litigation between her
and Governor William Stone over his efforts to buy "The Governor's Field"
and Leonard Calvert's house takes off (see (41) and (43), above and (48c)
and (51.2), below). Archives 10: 33-49.
Note: Margaret may be in Maryland in order to keep Giles informed about
Manners' investigation, but this evidently comes to nothing.
48a. Nov. 7, 1650. Margaret Brent is present and agrees for her self
and on behalf of her brother Giles as his attorney to an order of court
to settle problems on Kent Island arising from the number of bulls running
wild, a result of "the late troubles happening in this Province." Archives
48b. Nov. 20, 1650. The court decides for Thomas Sturman in his action
to keep possession of 1000 acres granted by Governor Calvert to Thomas
Passmore. See (39a.) Archives 10: 45.
48c. Nov. 21, 1650. Governor William Stone brings an action for "a sufficient
Conveyance of the House at St Maries where hee nowe liveth (wch he lately
bought of the defendt for a valuable consideracon) with Warranty against
all just claymes according to Agreemt uppon the Bargain. The deft confessed
shee once offered such warranty but saith there was no absolute Agreement
then made, albeit by oath pduced by the Governor it appeared the Agreemt
was absolute on her part." Respited to next court. Archives 10:
46. See also above, (44), (45).
49. April 1, 1651. Margaret Brent revokes the powers of attorney she
gave to George Manners. Archives 10: 64.
50. April 28, 1651. Margaret Brent writes to Stone asking to postpone
"the hearing of the cause between us, till the October Court, at which
time I will not fail to be down." Archives 10: 104-105.
51. After April, 1651.
1. The records contain only three more references to possible appearances of either Giles or Margaret Brent in Maryland after this date.
a. July 10, 1651. Giles and Margaret Brent witness the marriage agreement
of William Bretton and Temperance Jay. Archives 65: 685.
Note: Where this event took place is uncertain. Bretton, who lived on
Bretton's Bay in Newtown Hundred, may have crossed the Potomac to see the
Brents, but it is more likely that the Brents visited him. All parties
were Catholic, and there was a Catholic mission at Newtown.
b. Oct. 1, 1651. Margaret Brent receives 390 lbs. tob. from Thomas Hatton,
being the remainer of 510 lbs. tob. allowed her "as assignee of Stephen
Salmon by Virtue of the Act for defraying the Charge of St Inegoes Garrison."
Note: No place is indicated, but it is unlikely that Secretary Hatton
traveled to Virginia for the transaction.
c. Nov. 2, 1652. Giles Brent witnesses a release between two Maryland
planters, Paul Simpson and Walter Peakes. Archives 10: 191.
Note: Simpson and Peakes are unlikely to have traveled to Virginia for
this transaction between them.
2. Negotiations between Margaret Brent and Governor William Stone over
his purchase of Leonard Calvert's house and "The Governor's Field" continued
after her departure from Maryland. The following documents are the grounds
for the story laid out above under Comments.
a. See above, (41), (43), (48c), 50.
b. July 10, 1651. Margaret Brent writes to Stone. "I did heretofore
Set you a price of the house at St Maries, on which you did enter, and
did then deferr the assurance of it to you till I had taken advice of my
brother to whome I was then goeing, after which I Sent you assurance Conveying
my whole title [to?] you which then you ought to have accepted or to have
relinquished your pretence of buying, And this I did before you had Incurred
any charge upon the thing, as I shall prove by Sufficient Witness I now
desire you to know that I am deeply Sensible of the loss, and trouble you
have thrown upon me in this business by your keeping of my house and Land
from me, and not paying me any price for it, And therefore to disengage
My Selfe out of further trouble, I am now compelled to require you to Signifie
unto me or to Mr Bretton in my behalfe within 20 days after the receipt
hereof your acceptance of the house and Land upon my Conveyance of my title
unto you which I am now ready to make and is but that of Mr Calvert's Admr
and which I will not fortify by any bond or warranty, If you give me not
notice of your acceptance of it, I doe here declare to you that I will
be disengaged of the bargain which I then profered you and now profer you
of it, and free to dispose of my house to my best profit, I beseech you
Sr fail not to lett me know your resolucon in it." Archives 10:
c. October 22, 1651. Deposition of Elizabeth Parry: "That She was present
when Mrs Margaret Brent made an absolute bargain with Wm Stone Esqr of
a house at St Maries formerly belonging to Leonard Calvert Esq deced &
that there was goods at her request delivered unto her in part of payment
for the Said house, And that She was present when there was a bill of Sale
made for Mrs Brent to Set her hand unto, but she refused to Sett her hand
to it, if that it was therein written that She Should be bound to defend
him from all Claims, But She would willingly Set her hand to the Bill of
Sale if that it was therein written, all Just claims whatsoever, Moreover
She heard her Say afterwards that She wwould not Meddle with the goods
aforesd unless the Govr would enter upon the house."
d. November Court, . Stone complains that Margaret Brent, after
being called to June Court, 1651, to answer to his action, asked for postponement
to this court, which was granted, but then wrote on July 10 "that She now
waves all former proceedings, and preremptory averreth that She will be
disengaged of the Bargain and be free to dispose of the house in question
to her best profitt which Expressions being used to the Governor by the
Defdt in her Letter upon a Suit depending She absenting herself out of
the Province and willfully refusing to appear, this Court apprehend can
amount to noe less then a Slighting and Contempt of the Court and Governmt,
And doth therefore and for the reasons before Shewed think fit upon the
Complaynts mocon to proceed to the hearing of the Cause the Defdts absence
not withstanding." Given this history, "the Very great charges upon the
premisses" expended by Stone, and the depositions offered to prove the
bargain, "It is by this Court Ordered and adjudged that the Complaynt his
heirs and assignes Shall forever hereafter have hold and enjoy the quiet
and peaceable possioin of the house and Land in question against the Defdt
and all claiming by from or under her or her title." Stone is to pay what
is still due of the 4,500 pounds of tobacco. If Margaret does not demand
and accept this payment, Stone is to give "sufficient tender" in front
of witnesses. Margaret is to give Stone a "Sufficient Conveyance or Bill
of Sale of the premisses with warranty against all Just claimes." Since
Margaret is nonresident and "it being doubtfull how Soon She may further
absent herself where She cannot be found or compelled to the Performance"
of this order, the Court also requires that after the tender of the final
payment, she is to give "Sufficient Security for the Plts his heires and
assignes their quiet and peaceable possession of the premisses according
to this Order Which is to be absolute and binding" unless she appear at
December Court to show cause to the contrary. Archives 10: 106-108.
e. January 5, 1651[/2]. Giles Brent, as his sister's attorney, warns
Stone off the land.
f. January 23, 1651[/2]. Mr. Edward Wormell, by order of Stone, has
tendered the final payment as directed in the November Court, 1651. Four
witnesses testify to the payment and that "Mr. Wormell has to our best
jdmt. fullly satisfied the afsd. order."
g. April 8, 1661. "Margaret Brent Gent aged Sixty years or thereabouts" deposes that "I never did make any Conveyance of the howse and land of St Marys which formerly was Leonard Calverts Esqr to Captaine William Stone and that neither he nor the heires of the aforesaid William Stone hath any right or tytle to the aforesaid house or Lands." Archives 41: 453.
Note: In 1661, William Calvert, only son of Leonard Calvert, arrived
in Maryland to claim his inheritance. He took possession of all of his
father's lands, but had to bring an action against Verlina Stone, widow
of William Stone, to regain "The Governor's Field." He then quickly sold
the property to Hugh Lee, who had been operating an ordinary in the house
since early 1660. No evidence of Calvert's transfer to Lee is extant, but
the records show Lee's widow Hannah as owner after his death late in 1661,
and she relinguished the property to the Province in 1662. The development
of the village that became St. Mary's City began on this site soon thereafter.
41: 388-389, 435, 398-399, 453-54; 1: 436, 450; 3: 459; Lois Green Carr,
"'The Metropolis of Maryand': A Comment on Town Development Along the Tobacco
Coast," Maryland Historical Magazine 69 (1974): 128-135.
3. Ca. 1650-1651. Probably about the time they moved, the Brent sisters sold their Town Land property, Sister's Freehold and an adjoining 50 acres. By 1660, Daniel Clocker owned these lands. He was married to Margaret's former servant Mary Lawn Courtney Clocker. Rent roll 0: 3, 10, ms. Maryland State Archives, Annapolis, Md.
4. After 1651 through March 1653[/4], Mary Brent acted for Margaret
and Giles in the Maryland Provincial Court. The cases concerned mostly
the ownership of the wild cattle on Kent Island and the necessity of bringing
their numbers under control.
Archives 10: 150-152, 164, 327, 335.
5. March 7, 1656[/7]. " Att a Court Baron held ... by James Gaylard Steward of Mrs. Mary [Margaret?] Brent it is thus enrolled.
To the Court came Martin Kirke & tooke of the Lady here in full Court, by the delivery of the sd Steward, By th rod, according the Custome of the sayd Mannor, One Messuage or Tenemt, & Thirty Seaven Acres & halfe of Lande" adjoining the "now ddwelling howse" of Kirke. Kirke is to hold the land by custom of the manor, yearly rent being 15 pecks of corn "& one capan or henne and a half, or the value thereof. And for an Herriot halfe a barrell of like good corne & soe hee the sd Martin Kirke, hath done his fealty to the Lady and is thereof admitted tenant." Mary Brent.
Arhives 41: 96.
Note: Mary Brent must have been acting as Margaret's agent. It seems
unlikely that Margaret as executor of Leonard would have felt free to sell
or give Mary St. Gabriel's manor, given Margaret's doubts about her ability
to sell "The Governor's Field" to Governor Stone. Margaret, given her reluctance
to set foot in Maryland, must have turned supervision of Calvert's manors
over to her sister.
6. Margaret Brent dies at her plantation "Peace" in Staffordshire County, Va. about 1670. She had distributed some of her property and devised the rest in 1663. That year she assigned to her nephew, James Clifton, her rights to 1,000 of the 2,000 acres in Maryland due to her and her sister Mary for the transportation of themselves and nine servants. Her will left her remaining rights in Maryland not disposed of to her nephew George Brent.* To her nephew Richard Brent, son of Giles, she gave land in Virginia and her proprietary lease for Kent Fort Manor, unless her brother Giles decided to sell it, in which case he was to give his son the equivalent in other property. Except for some legacies of livestock and six silver spoons that were to go to her neices, she gave the rest of her estate to her brother Giles.
Patents 1: 24, 31-33; 6: 26-27; 11: 282-283; W. B. Chilton, comp.,"The
Brent Family" in Genealogies of Virginia Families from The Virginia
Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 1 (Baltimore, Genealogical
Publishing Co., Inc., 1981), 320-321; David M. French, The Brent Family,
The Carroll Families of Colonial Maryland (privately published, Alexandria,
VA, 1981; copy at the Maryland State Archives), 44.
* In 1666, Margaret gave rights to 1,000 acres to Mr. John Brooks of Battle Creek in Calvert County, despite the legacy to George Brent. (1); Patents 1: 24. Mary had died in 1658, leaving all her estate to Margaret and then to Giles after Margaret's death. French, The Brent Family, 44-45.
Last updated, February 7, 2002.