Brent, Sir Nathanael

, a learned lawyer in the seventeenth century, was born at Little Wool ford, in Warwickshire, in 1573, being the son of Anchor Brent of that place, gent. In 1589, he became pordonist, or post-master, of Merton-college, in Oxford; and, on the 20th of June 1593, took the degree of bachelor of arts. The year following he was admitted probationer-fellow of the college. On the 3 1st of October 1598; he took the degree of master of arts and then entered upon law studies. In 1607, he was one of the proctors of the university. Some years after, in 1613, &c. he travelled into foreign parts, and became acquainted with several of the most learned men abroad. After his return, he married Martha daughter and heir of Dr. Robert Abbot, bishop of Salisbury, and niece to Dr. George Abbot, archbishop of Canterbury, which was the cause of his succeeding great preferments. About the year 1618, he was sent to Venice by archbishop Abbot, on purpose to get a copy of the History of the Council of Trent, then newly composed by the most renowned Padre Paolo Sarpi; in procuring of which he exposed himself to very great dangers. In 1621, he Was elected warden of Merton-college, through the archbishop’s recommendation; who also made him his vicar-general, commissary of the diocese of Canterbury, master of the faculties, and at length judge of the prerogative. On the llth of October, 1623, he accumulated the degrees of bachelor and doctor of law. The 23d of August, 1629, he received the honour of knighthood from king Charles I. at Woodstock, being then supposed well-affected to the church and hierarchy. But in the great disputes that arose between archbishop Abbot and bishop Laud, he entirely sided with the first, and his adherents, the puritan party; and grew so inveterate against Laud, that he was a frequent witness against him at his trial. He likewise deserted Oxford when king Charles I. garrisoned that place, and took the covenant: for which reason he was deprived of his wardenship of Merton-college, by his majesty’s command j but restored again when Oxford garrison was surrendered for the parliament’s use, in 1646. In 1647 and 1648, he was appointed chief visitor of that university, and | countenanced all the violent and arbitrary proceedings there used, not sparing his own college. When an order was made against pluralities, he was forced to leave Mertoncollege, on the 27th of November, 1651; at which time he refused also the oath called the Engagement. Upon this, retiring to his house in Little Britain, in London, he died there November 6, 1652, aged 79; and was buried, the seventeenth of the same month, with great solemnity, in the church of St. Bartholomew the Less.

The only service to the public which sir N. Brent did, appears to have been in procuring the history of the council of Trent. As father Paul and father Fulgentio, the two joint authors, composed it, they privately gave a copy to Brent, who sent it over weekly to the archbishop Abbot in the original Italian; and it came to his hands under five or six covers to other persons, for the greater security. When Mr. Brent had sent it all over, he came back himself, and translated it out of Italian into English and Latin. The original Italian was printed first at London in 1619, and dedicated to king James I. by D. Antonio de Dominis, archbishop of Spalatro, who had been instrumental in procuring that history. The English translation was published in 1619, folio. A new edition was printed in 1640; and another in 1676, with other pieces of father Paul at the end. His other publication would have done him equal credit, had he adhered to his principles. He reviewed Mr. Francis Mason’s “Vindication of the Church of England, concerning the Consecration and Ordination of the Bishops, &c.” examined the quotations, compared them with the originals, and printed that book from the author’s manuscript, in 1625, fol. in Latin. It is a complete refutation of the old story of the Nag’s head ordination. 1

1 Biog. Brit. Wood’s Athene, vol. II. Antiquities of Oxford. —Strype’s Life of Parker, p. 59.