Brent Family Tree


Bernard Peirce Brent (1822-1867), was a pigeon-breeder who corresponded with Charles Darwin (1809-1882) regarding the inheritance of various traits in pigeons. Mr Brent is mentioned in Darwin's books
Darwin's published correspondence includes several mentions of Bernard Brent and some letters from Bernard Brent to Darwin in the period 1855-1867. There are two surviving letters (A) and (B) from Charles Darwin to Bernard Peirce Brent. The letters were written in 1857 and 1861 when Darwin was living in Down House.


The Brent family was involved in ship building for the Royal Navy and the East India Company in the period 1755-1820 (approximately). For information on this, see the late J. Brent Streit's paper The Brent Family of Ship Builders. An excerpt from The London Times, 10 January 1803, describing a party held to celebrate the launching of two ships, the Union and the Lady Castlereagh, is available in html and pdf formats.


Bernard Peirce Brent was descended from Hannah Ayscough, who was the mother of Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727). Newton never married, and had no direct descendants.

Newton was born on Christmas Day, 1642 (old style date). His father (Isaac Newton, 1606-1642) had died before he was born. After she was widowed, Newton's mother Hannah remarried and had three children (Mary, Benjamin and Hannah). Bernard Peirce Brent was descended from one of her daughters. The line of descent from Hannah Ayscough is indicated below.

Priscilla Tavenor's Diary

In 1678 Priscilla Tavenor (1654-1723) started a diary of family events (mainly births and deaths, but some more interesting). The diary was continued after her death by other members of the family. Because of various marriages (listed here) it eventually passed into the possession of the Brent family. The diary is available in several formats. Press here for html, here for plain text, here for the text in pdf, or here for a compressed postscript version.

A scanned copy of the complete diary is available in pdf format (size 10MB). If anyone can read the shorthand entries, please contact me!

Priscilla Tavenor's father, Captain Samuel Tavenor (1621-1696), was the Governor of Deal Castle under the Commonwealth (1653-1660). He later became a Baptist preacher and for a time was imprisoned in Dover Castle.

Priscilla Tavenor's maternal grandfather was Richard Gibbes. His will is available here. Note that probate was granted by Sir Nathaniel Brent, who was a judge of the Prerogative Court of Canterbury. Several wills from the archives of this Court are available here.

Samuel Brent's Book

Samuel Brent (1760-1815), the father of William Brent (1799-1869?) and grandfather of Bernard Peirce Brent (1822-1867), was a shipbuilder at Greenland Dock. He published a book A Father's Present to his Children for their Instruction and Amusement (Whittingham and Rowland, London, 1811) which contains an interesting picture of life at the time, as well as some amusing advice and descriptions of his family in bad verse. Excerpts from the book are available here.

A copy of Samuel Brent's will is available in two parts: part 1 and part 2. His father John Brent's will is here.

Family Letters

Some family letters are available in html format.

Old Documents

Here are some family trees (not necessarily accurate or legible).


According to De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae by the historian William of Malmesbury (c. 1130), Glastonbury Abbey was founded in or before the time of St Patrick (5th century). King Arthur and his consort are supposed to have been buried at Glastonbury (their remains were moved from the cemetery to a shrine in 1191). The Abbey was rebuilt after the great fire of 1184, and survived until 1539, when it was dissolved by Henry VIII.

Sauvimus de Turre (fl. c. 1140) was appointed to a post at Glastonbury Abbey by Abbot Henry de Blois, Bishop of Winchester and brother of King Stephen (1097-1154). It is not clear exactly what the post was, but the records say: "Sauvimus was appointed to Glastonbury with certain lands and other profits of victuals, clothes and money annexed to his office".

Robert (d. 1262), the grandson of Sauvimus, was the first to assume the name de Brent. He also held a post at Glastonbury. The records say: "Michael Abbot of Glastonbury granted to Robert and his heirs the office, together with all profits, to be in as ample a manner as Robert, son of Sauvimus his grandfather, had held them".

Robert de Brent's son Sir Robert de Brent of Cossington (d. 1309) was the first to use the wyvern on his seal. Sir Robert's son (also, confusingly, known as Sir Robert de Brent of Cossington), was "buried on the north side of the choir of the Abbey church at Glastonbury to which he had been a great benefactor".

The name de Brent was shortened to Brent in the 14th century, though de Brent was still used intermittently in the 15th century.

There is a full-size brass in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Cossington, Somerset, marking the tomb of John Brent (d. 1524) and his wife Maude. The inscription reads: "Here under this stone lieth the bodies of John Brent Bt. late Lord of this Manor of Cossington and Maude his wife the eldest daughter and heir of Sir Mathew Pouncefoot Knight which John deceased the second day of the year of our Lord MDXXIIII and the Lady Maude deceased ... Our Lord God of Hosts On whose soules and all christian soules Jesu have mercy amen"

In the 16th century the family fortunes declined. A family document reads "These ladies and their husbands squandered away the property and the estates were sold".

Return to Richard Brent's personal home page