(A Stafford elementary school was named in honor of Margaret Brent. Jane Conner photo)
After many successful ventures, Margaret Brent died in Stafford County in 1671. Among her land holdings were the original site of Alexandria, which she had owned since 1654 [the town would later be named for another Staffordian, John Alexander]; and the future site of Fredericksburg (1658), which she saw as a potential town. Although not confirmed, she was probably buried in the Brent Family Cemetery or at “Peace” plantation in Stafford — gravestones there were destroyed and pilfered during the Civil War and other periods. Although her gravesite may be unknown, her fame was lasting.
In 1993, Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg remarked: “Awards were made in the name of Margaret Brent, a great lady of the mid-1600s, celebrated as first woman lawyer in America. Her position as a woman, yet possessor of power, so confused her contemporaries that she was sometimes named in court records, not as Mistress Margaret Brent, but as Gentleman Margaret Brent.”