BRENT, Edward (1656-1698), of Greenhithe, Kent and St. Olave’s, Southwark, Surr.

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1690-1715, ed. D. Hayton, E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, 2002
Available from Boydell and Brewer



1690 - 28 Mar. 1698

Family and Education

bap. 18 Sept. 1656, 1st s. of Edward Brent of St. Olave’s, Southwark, alderman of London 1668, by Christian, da. of Roger White of Dover, Kent. unmsuc. fa. 1677.1

Offices Held

Freeman, Sandwich 1690.2


In 1668 Brent’s father was made an assistant of the shipwrights’ company and the same year he fined for alderman of Cordwainers Ward. He had property interests in the City and Southwark, and in Kent where he owned hoys, chalk-pits and lime kilns, presumably shipping goods up to his wharves in Southwark. From his will it has been surmised that he was a Dissenter, a contention supported by the appearance of his son’s name on a list of those to be inserted in February 1688 into the Kentish commission of the peace. Lacking property in the vicinity of Sandwich, Brent’s main appeal to the freemen of the borough may well have been his Dissenting antecedents. He was admitted a freeman on the day of his election to Parliament in 1690, and added to the commission of the peace for the county in the following week.3

Further evidence, perhaps, of Brent’s Nonconformist leanings can be found in the concern expressed by Roger Morrice over the petition presented against his election. The Whig Sir John Trenchard* saw Brent’s triumph at the committee of elections as a victory for his party and the eventual division in the House on 31 Oct. 1690 was seen as a party cause. The Marquess of Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) classed Brent as a Whig on an analysis of the 1690 Parliament, while Robert Harley* in April 1691 listed him as a doubtful but possible Court supporter. On 16 Dec. 1691 he was added to the drafting committee preparing a bill for making saltpetre in England, possibly in recognition of his own interests in mining and manufacturing. Nothing further of note occurs in the parliamentary record until the 1695 general election. On the very day of the poll, 22 Oct., John Freke informed Harley that ‘Brent says he is sure’. In the event, his erstwhile partner, John Thurbarne*, petitioned against the result, but Brent’s election was confirmed by the Commons on 31 Jan. 1696. Brent was forecast as likely to support the Court in the divisions over the proposed council of trade on 31 Jan., he signed the Association in February, and in March voted with the Court to fix the price of guineas at 22s. His only recorded tellership occurred on 18 Apr. 1696 when, at the report stage of a bill confirming a grant to the Earl of Torrington (Arthur Herbert†) of part of Bedford Level, Brent opposed a successful amendment obliging the Earl to perform all the covenants and agreements entered into by James II. In the following session he voted on 25 Nov. 1696 for the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†. He received leave of absence on 21 Jan. 1697 to go into the country to recover his health, and it may be that he was ailing at this date, for in October 1697, Thurbarne, although not a Member, was asked by the corporation to present its address to the King. On 8 Mar. 1698 a petition from George ‘Etkyns’ was presented to the Commons asking for liberty to sue Brent, notwithstanding his privilege, for failure to pay the purchase money for several pieces of land in Kent, including a chalk-cliff. Having been referred to the committee of privileges, it was still pending when Brent died on 28 Mar. 1698. Possibly the petition indicates that Brent was suffering financial troubles, a suggestion which may be supported by two petitions to the crown from an Edward Brent for permission to bring writs of error in two separate suits in 1695 and 1697, and a commission to ‘Edward Brent’ and others on 15 Mar. 1697 to investigate the estates of one John Strafford, outlawed for treason, preparatory to a grant of the estates if discovered. No will has been found.4

Ref Volumes: 1690-1715

Author: Stuart Handley


  • 1. IGI, London; Vis. Surr. (Harl. Soc. lx), 14.
  • 2. Centre Kentish Stud. Sandwich bor. recs. Sa/Ac8, p. 279.
  • 3. J. R. Woodhead, Rulers of London (London and Mdx. Arch. Soc.), 36; PCC 37 Hales; Duckett, Penal Laws and Test Act (1883), 288; info. from Prof. N. Landau.
  • 4. Morrice ent’ring bk. 3, f. 218; Dorset RO, Lane (Trenchard) mss D60/F56, Trenchard to Henry Trenchard†, 21 Oct. 1690; Add. 70018, f. 94; Post Boy, 31 Mar.–2 Apr. 1698; CSP Dom. 1695, p. 79; 1697, p. 114; Cal. Treas. Bks. xi. 425.