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When rumors spread in March 1689 that Brent was conspiring with Maryland Catholics and Indians to kill Protestants, some of Virginia's leaders ordered him to take refuge at William Fitzhugh's house for his own safety.

In February 1690 a Franciscan priest fleeing persecution in Maryland found shelter with Brent at Woodstock, his residence.

Brent tried to make the best of the situation, proposing to turn the Brenton tract into a refuge for English Catholics, but anti-Catholicism took its toll on him.He never again held public office, and despite efforts by Stafford County leaders to shield him he also apparently lost the right to practice law.Brent became a successful tobacco planter and raised livestock, owned a sawmill, ran a ferry, and accumulated land and laborers.He became surveyor of Stafford County in 1679 and by 1687 had also become surveyor of Westmoreland County.Brent was born in Worcestershire, England, the son of George Brent and Marianna Peyton Brent.

His grandfather Richard Brent was lord of Admington and Lark Stoke but lost much of his property during the English Civil Wars because of his Catholicism.Despite his faith Brent participated in public life in Virginia, where laws against Catholics' holding office were largely ignored.As Major Brent he was commanding Stafford County's troop of horse in 1675 when he and George Mason (1629–1686) pursued and killed some Doeg Indians who were accused of murdering settlers, leading indirectly to the outbreak of Bacon's Rebellion (1676–1677) the next year.The investors hoped to attract French Huguenot settlers and obtained a grant of toleration from James II in 1687, but the venture failed.In 1677 Brent married Elizabeth Greene, of Bermuda.They had three sons and two daughters before she died in childbirth on March 26, 1686.