Margaret Brent

(c. 1601–by May 1671)
Stafford County

A member of an English Catholic family, Margaret Brent (ca. 1601–by 19 May 1671) arrived in Maryland in 1638 with her sister and two brothers. They secured land grants and became influential residents of the new colony. Margaret Brent acquired land in her own right and often lent money to male planters. She also appeared in the local courts as an attorney-in-fact on behalf of her siblings and other colonists. She and Leonard Calvert, the colony's governor, served as guardians of Mary Kittamaquund, the daughter of the Piscataway chief who had been sent to the colonists for an education. When Calvert died in 1647, Brent was named executor of his estate and acted to resolve financial and administrative issues in the colony. While holding his power of attorney, she unsuccessfully requested that she be granted the right to vote in the Maryland assembly.

With the Protestants in power in England and experiencing conflicts with Maryland's proprietor over Calvert's estate, Margaret Brent and her family moved to Virginia about 1650. She lived with her brother and sister near Aquia, in the part of Northumberland County that in 1653 became Westmoreland County and in 1664 Stafford County. Brent continued to acquire thousands of acres, including the land where the city of Alexandria and part of Fredericksburg are located, and she paid for the transport of more than thirty immigrants to Virginia. Despite the colony's anti-Catholic laws, the Brents were not actively persecuted for their religion and provided a refuge for other Catholic settlers in Virginia. Margaret Brent spent the remainder of her life at her plantation known as Peace. In 2003 Stafford County's school board named a new elementary school in her honor.