Small Archive relating to Robert Brent, First Mayor of Washington, D.C., and his Family

Small Archive of land-related documents of Robert Brent (1764–1819), first mayor of Washington, D.C., and his family. Prominent here is a 5½-page 1810 “Articles of Agreement” signed by Brent for “a machine for making bricks” and the exclusive right to make bricks in Washington.

In the 1790s, Robert Brent took over his father’s business selling sandstone for new buildings in the developing federal capital. After Washington city planner Pierre L’Enfant was dismissed, Brent became responsible for laying out many of the new streets on the city. His brick making scheme is an interesting architectural adjunct to his building stone business.


The Articles of Agreement are between Robert Brent and Tench Ringgold, on the one hand, and Daniel French of New York City on the other. French hereby agrees “…to construct for the use and deliver…a finished and substantial machine for making bricks on the same plan and invention…for which the said Daniel French obtained a patent right from the United States on the 22nd day of August eighteen hundred and ten…” The articles are signed by all three men signed by witnesses Elias Burnett and Joseph Wayne.

The group also includes a lease and three land indentures, involving various Brent family members, for various parcels in Washington, 1823–1834. The latest indenture concerns Robert J. Brent buying land in Washington from noted Baltimore cartographer and publisher, J. Fielding Lucas, Jr.

The lease and the three land indentures are signed by other Brent family members: Brent’s son, Robert Y. Brent (1788–1855); Harriet Brent (1799–1865) (wife of Robert Y. Brent); Daniel Brent (possibly Brent’s brother, Daniel Carroll Brent, 1774–1841); and Robert J. Brent. Other autographs include Ephraim Gilman, W. Cranch, Bernard Spalding, John Threlkeld, Fleet Smith, and John D. Clark.

An interesting archive of documents concerning real estate and architecture relating to the Brent family of Washington, D.C.