In July of this year, Captain Cliff and I found ourselves travelling along that “Highway 66” heading down to Aquia, Virginia as I wanted to try and find the Old Concord Cemetery. Now don’t anyone tell me that you cannot get there from Highway 66, as I did it. I found the old burying ground, however there were no visible names on the ancient markers. On the way home, I stopped at the Crucifix Monument to snap some pictures and learn a bit of local history about the area of Virginia that my forebears settled in the 1630s. They were cousins to the BRENTS.
In the early seventeenth century, the Catholic BRENT family had left Gloucestershire, England for the New World, where they settled in Maryland. When the BRENTS were colonizing Maryland, Colonel Giles BRENT had done as did John ROLFE of Virginia who had married an Indian princess at Jamestown. BRENT’s bride was a 12-year-old student or ward of his spinster sister Margaret BRENT, who was operating a school for the Piscataway children. When Giles BRENT claimed almost all the land of the Maryland Colony due to his marriage to the Piscataway chief’s daughter, he got himself, and his BRENT sisters, into a dangerous situation with the Lord Baltimore government. The BRENTS were forced to cross the river and live in Virginia.
Colonel Giles BRENT and his spinster sisters, Mary and Margaret BRENT, Catholics all, were allowed safety in Protestant English Virginia, whereas in Catholic Maryland, Colonel BRENT was in grave danger of losing his life. They settled at the Colony of BRENTON, at Aquia, Virginia, in the mid 1600s. This was the first Catholic settlement in English Virginia.
Margaret BRENT was America’s first suffragette, but few have ever heard of her. She was an outstanding, accomplished women. She acted as Lord Baltimore’s attorney, and in fact was probably running the government of the colony. She was able to own property, because she never married, and she even demanded the right to vote. It was denied of course, but the Marylanders did bestow upon her the title of “Gentleman” Margaret BRENT. After the move to Virginia, she seemed never quite so powerful, probably because of her “out of favor” Catholic religion.
The bronze plaque pictured is at the Crucifix Monument on the east side of Jefferson Davis Highway, at Telegraph Road, in Aquia, Virginia.
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