Colonial Settlement Brent Family Thousands Flee Europe and Come to the New World

Thousands Flee Europe and Come to the New World

After the French Revolution of 1685, some 300,000 French Protestant Huguenots left France for Europe and America. George Brent, although Catholic, decided that something should be done when these refugees came to Stafford. He along with three other Staffordians, (Richard Foote, Nicholas Hayward, and Robert Bristow) petitioned the Roman Catholic King of England, James II, for a patent of 30,000 acres of land. They wanted this grant to create a religious haven as well as a commercial venture to settle this vast area. The land, called Brent Town, or Brenton, was successful in attracting Catholics, Huguenots, Puritans, as well as other Protestants, but was not successful as a commercial enterprise. The large tract was in the formerly backwoods area of Stafford County, but today it is almost entirely within Prince William County with a little portion in Fauquier County.

This first example of Religious Toleration in the New World is remembered with a bronze crucifix that is located in North Stafford on State Highway 1, close to the Brent Cemetery. In October, the Knights of Columbus hold a Field Mass at the area to remember this seminal event.