Nathaniel Brent ca.1573-1652

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Sir Nathaniel BRENT ca. 1573-1652

Biographical Note

Fifth son of Anker Brent (d. 1598) of Little Wolford, Warwickshire. BA Merton College, Oxford 1593, fellow 1594, MA 1598, sub-warden 1605–1613. Elected Warden in 1622, in succession to Sir Henry Savile.

He had married the niece of Archbishop George Abbot, and was appointed commissary of the diocese of Canterbury and vicar-general to the archbishop (1628). He was knighted in 1629. Brent was appointed as commissary general for the city and diocese of Canterbury during the vacancy following the death of Archbishop Abbot in 1633.

Although he worked closely at first with Abbot's successor Archbishop Laud, he was subjected to a commission of enquiry for maladministration at Merton College and by 1640 had turned against the archbishop, even testifying against him at his trial. In 1643 Brent was appointed by parliament a licenser for books on legal and other matters and was fully aligned with the parliamentarians. In January 1645 the King ejected him from the wardenship of Merton College but he resumed his office after the surrender of Oxford in July 1646. Eventually Brent lost control of the college during a parliamentary visitation and resigned the wardenship in 1651.


The extent of Brent's library is not known. In his will he left to his son-in-law Edward Corbet or Corbett “all my study of bookes except twentie works which I give to my sonne Basill and to chuse them where he pleaseth”. He had in the early 1630s given to Canterbury Cathedral Library a copy of the 1613 eight-volume edition of Saint John Chrysostom edited by Savile, his predecessor at Merton (CCL W/M-5-18/25).