Brent's father had a remarkable career before arriving in Virginia. The younger son of a prominent Gloucestershire family, he had migrated to Maryland in 1638 with three siblings. His Catholicism, affluence, and education led to his quick attainment of positions of authority, such as member of the assembly, councillor, and chief militia officer on Kent Island. More often than not the Brents opposed proprietary prerogatives, both in protection of their own interests and in rallying dissident groups against the Calverts. Despite earlier conflicts Lord Baltimore appointed him acting governor in April 1643. An ardent Royalist, the elder Giles Brent antagonized Protestant supporters of Parliament and helped set off an uprising in the colony before being dismissed from office and transported to England in 1645. After obtaining his freedom he returned to Maryland and was briefly reinstated as a councillor. A final break with the Calverts prompted Brent and his equally influential sister Margaret Brent to move to Virginia about 1649 and settle near Aquia Creek. Giles Brent married the orphaned daughter of a Piscataway leader who had been raised by Margaret Brent and Jesuit missionaries who had converted her and her father to Christianity. If he had hoped that the marriage would secure him a claim to Indian lands and that he could promote her right of succession to her father's title, he was disappointed on both counts. Despite legislation restricting the rights of Catholics and occasional complaints about Catholic influence, the Brent family prospered in Virginia. The senior Brent became a militia officer, and his nephew George Brent (b. ca. 1640) held several responsible public offices in the Northern Neck.
April 5, 1652 - Giles Brent is born, probably near Aquia Creek, the son of Giles Brent and Mary Brent. His mother is a Piscataway Indian.
1672 - Early in the year, Giles Brent, father of his namesake son, dies.
1674 - Giles Brent becomes a local collector of the tobacco export tax in Virginia.
July 1675 - Captain Giles Brent serves in a party commanded by George Mason and George Brent that pursues a contingent of Doeg Indians into Maryland.
1676 - Giles Brent sides with Nathaniel Bacon against the Indians, but when the rebel leader turns his forces on the governor, Brent turns on him. When Bacon burns Jamestown in the autumn, Brent's forces lose heart and desert him.
May 1679 - Giles Brent's wife, whose name is unknown, petitions the governor and Council for protection and a separate maintenance, citing her husband's "inhumane usage" of her. The court agrees, and an attorney later describes Brent as "a terrible fellow."
September 2, 1679 - Giles Brent dies in Middlesex County, possibly after converting from Catholicism to Anglicanism. He is buried at Christ Church in Middlesex County.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Jordan, D. W., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Giles Brent (ca. 1652–1679). (2016, November 10). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Brent_Giles_ca_1652-1679.
- MLA Citation:
Jordan, David W. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Giles Brent (ca. 1652–1679)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, 10 Nov. 2016. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: June 23, 2011 | Last modified: November 10, 2016
Contributed by David W. Jordan and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography.