The Dents of “Friendship”
Thomas Dent, Gentleman
Thomas Dent was born in Yorkshire, England in 1630. He was the son of Peter Dent of Guisborough and a scion of an ancient Armorial family. In 1658 Thomas Dent immigrated to the Maryland colony, settling in St. Mary’s City.
In 1660 he married Rebecca Wilkinson, the daughter of Rev. William Wilkinson. Thomas sponsored the passages of at least 75 persons to the Maryland Colony. He was a successful merchant and planter.
He was at one time a St. Mary’s County Sheriff, St. Mary’s County Coroner and County Alderman. In 1669 and 1674 he was elected to the Lower House of the Maryland General Assembly.
Thomas Dent died in St. Mary’s County in 1676. Upon his death his wife Rebecca was devised land at Port Tobacco in Charles County. Son William received “Westbury Manor” and a portion of the land in the Nanjemoy area of Charles County. Son Thomas was devised the residue of the land at Nanjemoy and sons Peter and George were willed equally “Gisborough” and “Brother’s Joint Interest.” Daughter Margaret received on acre of land in St. Mary’s County.
Colonel William Dent
William Dent was born about 1660 in St. Mary’s County, the eldest son of Thomas and Rebecca (Wilkinson) Dent. In 1682 he was an attorney for the Charles County Court and in 1684 an attorney for the Maryland Provincial Court. On February 8, 1684 he married Elizabeth Fowke, the daughter of Anne Chandler Fowke and the deceased Colonel Gerard Fowke by the Rev. John Turnlinge, first rector of Durham Parish.
He served as Clerk of the Lower House of the Maryland General Assembly from 1686 to 1688 and then Solicitor General from 1688 to 1689 and then in 1694. He served in the Upper and Lower
Houses of the Maryland General Assembly from 1692 to 1704. From 1694 to 1704 he was a Naval Officer of the North Potomac. He also served as the Deputy Attorney General of the Maryland Province from 1694 to 1698 and then Attorney General from 1698 to 1704. He was a member of the Vestry of Durham Parish in 1696. In 1698 he served on the Court of Admiralty and in 1704 Commissary General. By 1704 he was appointed a member of the Privy Council.
William Dent maintained a store at his Nanjemoy Plantation, acquired vast amounts of lands and maintained a home in Annapolis. He gave the Communion Silver still in use at Durham Church inscribed “The Gift of William Dent, Esq., to Durham Parish.” He was the father of nine children, two of whom are buried in the Durham Church Cemetery (Gerard Dent and Anne Dent).
William Dent died in 1704 leaving at least 6,000 acres of property. At the time of the writing of his will he had bequeathed to wife Elizabeth the homestead at Nanjemoy and a life interest in the mill and the following tracts of land: “St. Barbay’s,” “Wheelers’ Palm,” and “Thomkinson’s Long Look For,” all of which were to revert to their youngest son Philip. Eldest son Thomas would inherit the dwelling plantation plus “Whitehaven” of 894 acres and the lodge. He along with his brother, George, received the residue of “Lawrell Branch” at Mattawoman. Son George Dent was also devised the plantation at Port Tobacco containing 300 acres and also “Harrison’s Gift” of 118 acres, three unnamed tracts and the residue of “Harrison’s Gift” at Popes Creek. Son Peter Dent was devised 523 acres of “Friendship,” and 400 acres of “Gisborough.” Wife Elizabeth was also given the plantation at Mattawoman and 500 acres of adjoining land.
Thomas Dent was born in 1685, the eldest son of William and Elizabeth (Fowke) Dent. He married Anne Bayne, the daughter of John Bayne.
In 1706 he served as a Charles County Justice. He was elected to the Lower House of the Maryland Assembly from Charles County and served from 1715 to 1718.
In 1722 he mortgaged his Nanjemoy Plantation, containing 650 acres to Pryor Smallwood, a Port Tobacco merchant. He was released from that mortgage in 1724. Thomas Dent was the father of William Dent and Thomas Dent, Jr. He died at his Nanjemoy Plantation in 1725.
William Dent, the son of Thomas and Anne (Bayne) Dent, was born in Charles County. He married Anne Warren, the daughter of John and Judith (Townley) Warren. William Dent died about 1756 in Charles County. Many of the household furnishings in his 1757 inventory are nearly identical to the 1706 inventory of his grandfather, Colonel William Dent.
Warren Dent, son of William and Anne (Warren) Dent was born in 1744 in Charles County. He was educated in law and served as a Charles County Justice. He was a member of the Vestry of Durham Parish in 1774 and signed the “Oath of Fidelity” as recorded in the Durham Parish Vestry Book in 1779. Warren Dent died about 1794 in Charles County.
Captain George Dent
George Dent, a younger son of William and Ann (Warren) Dent, was born in Charles County. In March of 1778 he took the Oath of Fidelity and Allegiance to the State of Maryland and, on May 9 of that year, was appointed Captain of the 26th Battalion of Charles County Militia. George Dent married three times, although his first wife has not been identified. Records show that George’s two eldest children were born well before his 1785/86 marriage to the widow, Rose Townshend (Dade) Knox. By his marriage with the widow of Col. Robert Knox, George was able to enjoy the substantial Knox estates in Fauquier County, VA. Following the death of his second wife, he soon married for a third time to Elizabeth Knox. George Dent died in Fauquier County, VA before 25 March 1802, and his son William settled the estate in that year.
William Dent, son of George Dent was born in Charles County. He lived at various times both in Charles County and Fauquier County, Virginia. He married Janet S. Knox, the daughter of Robert Knox. They had three children: Robert A. Dent, William Dent an George Dent.
H. Chandlee Forman. Old Buildings, Gardens, and Furniture in Tidewater Maryland. Cambridge, Maryland: Tidewater Publishers, 1967.
Historical Society of Charles County, Inc. Historic Sites Files. Southern Maryland Studies Center, College of Southern Maryland.
Harry Wright Newman. Charles County Gentry. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1971.
J. Richard Rivoire. A Tract History of the Nanjemoy Nature Reserve, Charles County, Maryland. March 1993.