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The Legend of Mary Brent Beaven

Privacy Level: Public (Green)
Date: 1655 to 1712
Location: Province of Marylandmap
Surname/tag: Brent Beaven Marsham
Profile manager: Jack Day private message [send private message]
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The Legend of Mary Brent Beaven
An Analysis by Jackson H. Day. Copyright, March 1, 2022


The Legend

A recent and attractive book by Shawn and Lois Potter, "Daughters of Princess Mary Kittamaquund", full of documentation and full color DNA graphs has acquired an enthusiastic following. [1]

The Potters' book studies the DNA of descendants of Richard Marsham and Charles Beaven. Each of their wives is associated with legends making them daughters of Giles Brent, a descendant of Magna Carta sureties, and his wife Mary Kittamaquund, the daughter of a Piscataway Tayac. Regrettably, the Potters then attach this DNA analysis to the legends and assert that the DNA proves the legends.

The Legend of Mary Brent Beaven consists of the following assertions:

  1. Mary Brent, proven daughter of Giles Brent and his wife Mary Kittamaquund, divorced her proven husband John Fitzherbert
  2. Mary Brent Fitzherbert then married Charles Beaven.
  3. As the wife of Charles Beaven, Mary became the mother of Charles Beaven's children.
  4. Mary Brent Fitzherbert had a sister Katherine who married Richard Marsham.
  5. As a result, the descendants of Charles Beaven are also descendants of Giles Brent (a Magna Charta descendant) and Mary Kittamaquund, a Piscataway Indian princess.

This is a companion article to The Legend of Katherine Brent Marsham.

Questioning the Legend

When elements of the legend are questioned, they cannot be sustained.

Did Mary Brent Fitzherbert divorce her husband?

Some writers claim Mary Brent divored and subsequently married again. For instance, Marshall states they were divorced before 26 April 1672 in Calvert County, Maryland [2]

Mary Brent, daughter of Giles Brent and Mary Kittamaquund, married John Fitzherbert. The union proved unhappy. On April 26, 1672, Charles Calvert wrote to Cecelius Calvert[3] in which Charles writes, Major Fitzherbert's brother who maryed the Indian Brent, has civilly parted with her, and (as I suppose) will never care to bed with her more; soe that your Lordship needs not to feare any ill consequence from that match, butt what has already happened to the poore man, who unadvisedly threw himself away upon her in hopes of a great portion which now is come to little.

There clearly was a separation: they "civilly parted." The paragraph in Charles Calvert's 1672 letter in which he used the term, "civilly parted," is used to support the assertion that Mary Brent Fitzherbert obtained a divorce. It is clear that the couple separated. There is no evidence of a divorce, and Mary continued to use the name Fitzherbert to the end of her life. Only a divorce -- which might have required an act of the Maryland legislature in that time period -- would have allowed Mary to remarry.

In addition:

  • In his 1671 will, Giles Brent leaves property to Mary Fitzherbert.
  • The 1672 Calvert correspondence certainly alludes to marital tensions, but it does not prove a divorce.
  • On May 20, 1673, according to a file documenting property origins in the Maryland State Archives, is the following entry: “Mary Brent Fitzherbert, daughter of Giles Brent and his Indian wife, and her husband, John Fitzherbert, were living at West St. Mary’s Manor on May 20, 1673 when they sold Kent Fort Manor on Kent Island to Richard Moy.” [4]
  • Writing on the Brent family in the Virginia Historical Magazine in 1905, W. B. Chilton states (p. 442) that " Mary, the daughter of Giles, the son of Richard Brent, who married Captain John Fitzherbert...died childless." [5]

Did Mary Brent Fitzherbert marry Charles Beaven?

In the legend, Mary Brent Fitzherbert, after her divorce from John, married Charles Beaven.

Charles Beaven did die married to a woman named Mary as attested by his will and other documents late in his life. But she was not Mary Brent Fitzherbert.

A review of the parallel facts in Charles Beaven's biography reveals similar difficulties.

  • Charles Beaven was born about 1636.
  • In 1672, Beaven married Martha Paca who mothered all his children until her death which took place at some time prior to December 8, 1688 (at which point Beaven was married to his second wife, Mary, who witnessed Basil Waring's will). [6]
  • By 1688, Charles Beaven, by then aged 52 had indedd married a Mary: "On 12.8.1688 Mary Beaven, with Thomas Greenfield and Martha Greenfield, witnessed the will of Basil Waring, whose wife was Sarah Marsham, the daughter of Richard Marsham." [6]
  • The will of of Charles Beaven, signed June 20, 1698, proved June 21, 1699, [7]
  • The will of Mary Beaven, signed April 18, 1712, proved June 13, 1713, Cited by Potters, [8]

See "Legend of Katherine Brent Marsham" for a detailed discussion of these claims.

Was Mary Brent Fitzherbert the mother of Charles Beaven's children?

Others conclude that the children of Charles Beaven I were all cared for in his will. Charles'’ Will appears to adequately dispose of most of the family’s property. His wife, Mary Beaven had essentially inherited a "life estate" in the Prince George’s County Plantation, which passed to Richard Beaven at her death under the terms of the will of Charles Beaven. There was thus only a small personal estate for Mary Beaven to dispose of.[1]

On August 22, 1713, the estate of "Mrs. Mary Bevons" was appraised. An abstract of the appraisal is found in the Prerogative Court. The Appraisers were John Witte and Anthony Harris. Approved by Henry Culver (husband of Charles‘ and Mary's daughter, Catherine). Next of kin - Charles Beaven and Richard Beaven, the sons of Charles Beaven I. [1]

Did Mary Brent Fitzherbert have a sister Katherine Brent Marsham?

See Legend.

On 12/8/1688 Mary Brent Beaven witnessed the will of Basil Waring (along with Thomas Greenfield and Martha Greenfield. Richard Marsham was co-executor). [1]


On March 15, 1696/7, [9] Richard Marsham transferred 600 acre grant called The Hickory Thickett to Charles Beaven by assignment.

It would seem there is as little room for a Brent-Beaven marriage in Charles Beaven's life as there is in Mary Brent Fitzherbert's.


  1. Mary Brent died as Mary Fitzherbert.
  2. Charles Beaven's children descend from his first wife, Martha Paca.
  3. There was no Katherine Brent
  4. Richard Marsham's legitimate children descend from his wife who was most likely Katherine Fisher.
  5. The DNA Analysis of Richard Marsham and Charles Beaven's desendants is not questioned, but some other explanation must be found for the results of the analysis.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Shawn and Lois Potter, Daughters of Princess Mary Kittamaquund. Out of Print, however, substantial portions appear in Roberta Estes' blog at DNA Explained
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mike Marshall. Early Colonial Settlers,
  3. William Hand Browne, ed., Proceedings of the Council of Mayland: 1671-1682 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1896), xiv. Cited by PottersF
  4. Maryland State Archives. Excerpt
  5. W. B.. Chilton, The Brent Family. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Apr., 1905), pp. 439-445. Published by the Virginia Historical Society. Stable URL: p. 442. Accessed: 27-03-2015 01:40 UTC.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mary Louise Donnelly's "Beaven-Blanford-Clarkson-Mitchell, and Alllied Families of Maryland, Kentucky, U.S.A" Ennis, TX: Mary Louise Donnelly, 1997, page 2.
  7. Prerogative Court (Wills) Vol. 2, pp. 182-183, Liber 6, Folios 285-286, Cited by Potters.
  8. Prerogative Court (Wills) Vol. 3, p. 240, Liber 13, Folio 513. Cited by Potters
  9. Maryland Land Patents, BB#37:374, cited by the Potters.


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