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
from Charles Darwin to Bernard Peirce Brent.
The letters were written in 1857 and 1861
when Darwin was living in
The Origin of Species, 1859
(pp. 214, 362 of the first edition)
- The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication,
1875 (pg. 245 of the second edition); and
The Descent of Man, 1871.
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.
scanned copy of the complete diary is available in pdf format (size 10MB).
If anyone can read the shorthand entries, please
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
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
His father John Brent's will is
Some family letters are available in html format.
- Letter of 1821
from William Brent (1799-1869?)
to his mother-in-law Priscilla Peirce (1762-1848). This letter is asking
for money to invest in his business.
A copy of Priscilla Peirce's will is
and the will of her daughter
Priscilla Ebenezer Fordham is
- Letter of 1828 from
William's wife Jane Brent (1798-1832) to her young son
Bernard Peirce Brent (1822-1867). This letter was written when Jane
thought she was dying, though she actually lived four more years.
Here are some family trees (not necessarily
accurate or legible).
De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae
by the historian William of Malmesbury (c. 1130),
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
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".
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