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BEGINNINGS OF EOYAL GOVERNMENT IN VIRGINIA 85

grants of land in the province. Through a variety of
indirect channels they probably managed to secure a respec-
table income, but it did not assume the form of a salary
or come out of the English exchequer. Still more was
this true of the other officers. The home government
insisted that even the royal provinces should be self-sup-
porting, that their expenditures should be met out of colo-
nial revenues.

Apparently for more than a decade after the fall of the
company little or no effort was made to collect the quit
rent of 2s. per hundred acres, which, as we have seen, was
affixed as a condition to grants of land. But with a view
to its collection, in 1636 Jerome Hawley,i a man also promi-
nent in Marjdand history, was appointed treasurer of Vir-
ginia. He was also instructed to secure all the revenue
which had originally belonged to the company and now was
the right of the crown. Hawley did not enter upon his
duties until late in 1637, but in May, 1638,^ he wrote that he
hoped to so improve the revenue as to make it defray the gov-
ernor's "pension " of £1000 a year. Henceforth a royal treas-
urer and receiver general held a place among the officials of
Virginia, the office becoming elective in 1693. ^ The efforts
of these officers, together with the growth of the province,
ultimately resulted in such a development of the quit rents
that from them the salaries of later governors were paid.

Since necessarily the relations between the royal provinces
and the English government lay chiefly within the sphere of
the executive, the character of the colonial administration
depended very largely upon the appointments that were
made. At no time did such appointments seem specially
attractive. They were least so in the early stages of co-
lonial development. They involved, for indefinite periods,
removal on the part of the appointees from England to small
and remote settlements, which must have seemed much like
places of exile. The privations to which officials, as well as

1 Va. Mag. of Hist. IX. 43, 171, 177. 2 Ibid. X. 424.

° The successors of Hawley were Roger Wingate (1639-1641), 'Wniiam
Claiborne (1642-1660), Henry Norwood (1660-1677), Henry Whiting (1692-
1693). Stanard, The Colonial Virginia Register, 7, 24.




86 IMPERIAL CONTEOL

PART planters, were subjected at the outset in Virginia and New-
England have already been indicated. They continued,
though in less acute form, after Virginia became a royal
province. Though in the beginning it seemed possible that
the home government might provide salaries for royal gov-
ernors, it failed to do so, and they were thrown back upon
the uncertain returns from the quit rents or the still more
precarious appropriations of the assemblies. Fees, perqui-
sites, and land grants offered chances for dishonesty and
extortion, which always made them obnoxious to the colo-
nists at large. One illustration, among many, of the situa-
tion in Avhich governors found themselves is furnished by
a letter of Harvey from Virginia, dated May, 1632.^ " I
conclude with my humble prayers unto your honors to take
unto your compationate cares my nowe almost three years
service uppon the place without any means or annual enter-
tainment to support my great expense, who may as well be
called the hoste as gouvernor of Virginia, all the country
affayres being prosecuted at my house in James Island where
is no other hospitalitie for all commers, and if some speedie
remedie and reliefe be not found for me, not onlie my creditt
but my hart will breake."

In their relations with the council the early appointees of
the crown to the governorship of Virginia held a position
intermediate between that which led to the humiliation of
Wingfield and the autocracy of Delaware and Dale; it was
neither so weak as the former nor so strong as the latter.
The commissions of the governors prior to the Restoration were
in form analogous to those of justices of the peace and quorum
in England. Authority ^ was given to the governor and coun-
cil jointly. It was to be exercised by the greater number of
them, among whom the governor was always to be one. " You,
the said John Harvey," runs the commission of March, 1628,

1 Va. Mag. of Hist. VIII. 150.

2 Hening, I. 117 ; Va. Mag. of Hist. II. 51, 282 ; VII. 129, 260 ; IX. 88 ;
Colonial Papers, April 2, 1631, December 16, 1634. Randolph Mss. (Va.
Hist. Soc), fol. 207 ; Neill, Virginia Carolorum, 101 ; Md. Arch. Proc. of
Council, 1636-1667, p. 30. The commission granted in 1639 to Wyatt is
in Va. Mag. of Hist. XI. 50. An abstract of the commission of 1641 to
Berkeley is among the Sainsbury Papers, Va. State Library.



BEGINNINGS OP ROZAL GOVERNMENT IN VIRGINIA 87

" and the rest afore mentioned, to be the present Council of CHAP.
and for the Colony and Plantation in Virginia, Giving and ,^^_y
by these presents granting unto you and the greater number
of you respectively, full power and authority to execute and
perform the places, powers and authorities incident to a gov-
ernor and council of Virginia." Apparently the only dis-
tinction given to Harvey was this, that his name appeared
at the head of the list and he was designated as governor.
Discretion was not granted to the governor alone, after he
had taken the advice of the council, as was the case in pro-
prietary commissions and in royal commissions at least
after the Restoration, and above all in the relations between
the king and the privy council. Instead, the early commis-
sions bound the governor by the advice of the council and
were intended to necessitate his full cooperation with them.
As compared with the other system, it lessened the prestige
of the governor and increased the political authority of the
councillors. As we shall see, it was an important cause of
the civil troubles of Harvey's administration, that governor
exerting himself to the utmost to get free from the restraints
which it imposed.

Owing to the failure of the crown for a number of years
after the dissolution of the company to call an assembly, the
governor and council, with the oflicials dependent upon them,
constituted the only organs of government in Virginia.
With the governor the councillors, of course, shared in all
the larger executive concerns of the province. When the
assembly was revived, they formed its upper house, and that
gave to the council a large part in legislation. As in all the
provinces where the executive was vigorous, they constituted
a group of social and political leaders both in their respective
counties and in the colony at large, among whom traditions
of government grew up and were perpetuated. Through the
governor and council official connection was chiefly main-
tained with England. They faced, as it were, in two direc-
tions — toward the colony and toward the parent country,
and in various ways mediated between them.

Owing to the lack of records, it is impossible to speak in
detail of the work of the executive and of its relations with



0» IMPERIAL CONTROL

PART the assembly during the early history of Virginia as a royal
^ ' , province. It is even less possible than was the case under
the company, for the records are now of a dry official character
and they have been preserved in very fragmentary form.
Statutes and isolated facts, with glimpses of the status of
affairs at intervals, are all that now is available. The rec-
ords of the general court which have survived are equally
fragmentary, while the county records throw only an indi-
rect light on the workings of the general executive of the
province. But in this respect Virginia is not peculiar, for
we have found the same thing true of Maryland and the
Carolinas, and especially of the early executive records in
all the colonies. In the case of none of the colonies is it
possible to give a connected view of the doings of the execu-
tive or of its early relations with the legislature.

After the lapse of the period of four years which immedi-
ately followed the dissolution of the company, during which
no assembly was called, the system of annual sessions was es-
tablished and followed with great regularity. They were
indeed required by the instructions issued to Wyatt in 1639,
and by those given two years later to Berkeley. Abundant
precedents were also established in favor of frequent elec-
tions. As in all royal provinces, legislation was subject to a
double veto — by the governor and by the crown. Both execu-
tives frequently recommended the passage of laws and the
adoption of specific lines of policy — especially those which
affected the production of staple commodities, trade, and
defence ; but only slight ' evidence appears in the records of
the time of the exercise of the veto either by the executive
in Virginia or that in England. Until near the close of the
seventeenth century the governor, council, and burgesses
continued to sit together in one house, as they had done
under the company. The long continuance of this primitive
arrangement is at once a proof and an occasion of the main-
tenance of general good feeling. Except in the administra-
tion of Harvey, we find in early Virginia no instances of
prolonged strife between the different branches of the legis-
lature, which were so characteristic of the proprietary prov-
inces and of the royal provinces in later times.



BEGINNINGS OP EOYAL GOVERNMENT IN VIRGINIA 89

At first the number of representatives who should be re-
turned to the assembly from each county was not specified.
In 1645 it was restricted to four, except in the case of James
City county, which was permitted to send five, with one in
addition for the borough itself. In 1669 and 1670 the number
of burgesses was finally fixed at two for each county, with one
additional from Jamestown. A similar privilege was be-
stowed in the eighteenth century on Norfolk, Williamsburg,
and William and Mary College, i With the exception of
the year 1655 all freemen who were twenty-one years
of age had the right to vote for burgesses. During those
years the suffrage was restricted to freeholders, leaseholders,
and tenants.2 But neither in the act of 1655 nor in that of
1670 was any attempt made to define the amount of the
freehold or leasehold, and therefore, under the social condi-
tions which existed, their provisions could not have made a
radical change in the suffrage.

The writs of election were issued by the governor through
the office of the secretary, and were published by the sheriffs
in the counties. Elections were held at the county court
houses, the sheriffs acting as inspectors and returning officers.

Enough has been said to indicate that in Virginia the
assembly, from a very early period, held a prominent and
well established position. It cooperated fully with the gov-
ernor and council in the development of the law and con-
stitution of the province. In this way a tradition was early
established which was to have a powerful influence on colo-
nial development and on the degree of self government to
which the colonists laid claim. So far as the provinces in
general were concerned, and especially the royal provinces, it
was as significant in its way as was the constitution of the
corporate colonies for New England. In the sphere of taxa-
tion the assembly asserted its claim repeatedly and with much
thoroughness. In 1624, twice in 1632, and again in 1643,
it was provided by statute that the governor and council
should not levy any taxes, but that this power belonged ex-
clusively to the grand assembly ; and also that the expendi-,

1 Hening, I. 299 ; II. 20, 273, 282.

2 Ibid. I. 403, 411, 412, 475 ; II. 280 ; W. & M. College Quarterly, VIII. 81.





90 IMPERIAL CONTROL

ture of revenue should be as it directed.^ So far as we are
informed, this principle was very consistently enforced.

The form of direct taxation which was levied during the
early period was in general the same which had existed
during the later years of the company. It was a poll tax
imposed at a uniform rate upon the tithables of the province
and made payable in tobacco. In 1645, to meet the expense
of an Indian war, the poll tax was dropped because it was
found to rest too heavily on the poor, and a general tax
on property was substituted. This continued until 1648,
when the poll tax was restored. Various devices were en-
forced for determining lists of tithables, but in 1649 the term
was defined so as to include all male servants thereafter to
be imported and all native servants and freemen of both
sexes who were sixteen years of age. Lists were to be made
yearly by the sheriff. By a later act, of 1658, heads of
families were made to report their tithables to the clerk of
the county court and he was bound to make ^ an annual list
of them. Beginning with 1643, in obedience to Governor
Berkeley's instructions, councillors were exempted from all
public charges, church dues only excepted.^

In 1632 a tonnage duty, payable in powder, was introduced,
the earliest example of a tax of that kind in the colonies.
This was continued by later enactment and was collected by
the commander of the fort at Point Comfort. In 1645, be-
cause of the war then in progress in England, an addition
was made to the amount of this duty and it was made pay-
able to the governor.* In 1658, because of the inequality of
the poll tax, a duty of 2s. per hogshead was levied for one
year on the export of tobacco. Collectors of this duty were
appointed by the assembly for the several rivers and other
localities whence tobacco was exported, and their commis-
sions were issued by the governor.^

As in the other colonies, the expenditures were made for
a variety of personal services and for supplies, chiefly con-

1 Hening, I. 124, 171, 196, 244. 2 /jj^^. 143^ 279, 305, 356, 454.

8 Va. Mag. of Hist. II. 283 ; Hening, I. 279. In 1640 councillors witli

ten servants each had heen once exempted. Ibid. 228.

» Ibid. 176, 218, 247, 301, 312, 533-534. 6 j^^ 491^



BEGINNINGS OP EOYAL GOVERNMENT IN VIRGINIA 91

nected in both cases with the defence of the province. ^
These, when stated in itemized lists, were allowed by the as-
sembly and paid on the strength of this allowance by the
treasurer. The wages of burgesses were paid by their
counties. Officials received their reward chiefly in the form ,
of fees and perquisites. The councillors were negatively
rewarded, as we have seen, by exemption from taxes. In
1645 the assembly undertook to dispose of the quit rents,^
assigning a salary out of them to the treasurer and providing
that the surplus should go to the governor and council, " and
thence to be disposed of by the Assembly as they shall think
fitt." But this was probably a temporary measure, resorted
to because the civil war in England had left the quit rents
for the time undisposed of. In the case of many officers the
amount of fees which they were to receive was early regu-
lated by acts of assembly. Those which were so regulated
prior to 1660 were the fees of the secretary, the secretary's
clerk, the marshal, the clerks of the county courts, sheriffs,
attorneys, surveyors, and the clerk of the assembly.^

So far as we know, the only feature which was peculiar to
the Virginia executive was the dependent relation toward
the council, already referred to, in which the governor was
placed by his commission. This made him a member of the
council, even when it was in legislative session. When taken
in connection with special personal and political conditions
which existed in Governor Harvey's administration, it helped
to bring about an acute crisis. The accounts which have been
preserved of this event are unusually full, and they throw more
light on the political conditions of the time in Virginia than
any other material which is at our command. In view of our
fragmentary knowledge of the period in general, a full account
of this episode becomes especially necessary.

The relations of Harvey, not only with the council but
with the inhabitants of Virginia at large, were influenced to
such a degree by the grant of Maryland to the Calverts, that
without an explanation of the bearing of this act on Virginia
rights and interests, the uprising against Harvey cannot be
understood. The English government, as we have stated,
1 Hening, I. 142, 171, 196. « jud. 307. » lUa. 176, 266, 275, 335, 490.



92 IMPERIAL CONTKOL

PART: always held that ungranted and unsettled land within a
, ' , royal province was royal domain, and hence was subject to
grant by the king. It considered the unsettled parts of
Virginia after the dissolution of the company as in this con-
dition. The Virginians, however, insisted or were inclined
to insist that the members of the late company had been
tenants in common of the province, and that the territory
extending two hundred miles north and south of Point Com-
fort was one and indivisible. They were proud of the old
dominion with its magnificent proportions, and viewed with
dislike any plan to divide it. Though the opinion that it
could not be divided was untenable, it led the Virginians to
actively oppose projects of division, especially if the interests
of any of their number were likely to suffer thereby. The
existence of this feeling was first revealed by the grant of
Maryland to Lord Baltimore.

Special force was given to the argument of the Virginians
by the interest which William Claiborne and his partners
had in Kent island in Chesapeake bay.^ Claiborne, who
came from a north of England family, emigrated to Virginia
in 1621, under appointment from the company as surveyor.
His ability gained him immediate success and promotion.
He became a member of the council and secretary of the
province. These positions he held when Harvey was ap-
pointed governor.

In 1627, and again in 1628, Claiborne received license from

governors of Virginia to trade and explore along the shores

of the upper Chesapeake, and also in other unsettled parts of

the province. In 1629 he was appointed to command an

expedition to punish the Indians for ravages which they

had committed. As a member of the council Claiborne had

been one of those who tendered the oaths of allegiance and

supremacy to Lord Baltimore, when he visited Virginia

in 1629. The interests which as a trader Claiborne was

developing were menaced by the plans of that Catholic

nobleman to procure a grant somewhere in the unoccupied

regions of Virginia. Claiborne went to England and op-

1 Md. Arch., Proceedings of Council, 1636-1667, 15-44 ; ibid. Proceed-
ings of Council, 1667-1688, 157-239.



BEGINNINGS OF ROYAL GOVERNMENT IN VIRGINIA 93

posed the grant of Maryland by such means as he could CHAP,
command. ^J_'

Though his efforts in that direction failed, he interested
Cloberry and Company, a firm of London merchants, in
his schemes, and was appointed their agent. Sir William
Alexander also took a hand in the business, and apparently
with his assistance Claiborne and his associates, in 1631, pro-
cured from the king a license to trade to any part of the
North American coast where a monopoly of traffic had not
been granted. Early in 1632 Governor Harvey granted Clai-
borne a license to trade with the Dutch plantations. As the ,
result of this enterprise Kent island was taken possession of
and stocked with servants and cattle. It remained in the
possession of Claiborne until 1637, but not by virtue of any
grant of land or any authority to be there except that which
came from the licenses to trade which had been issued by the
governors of Virginia.

In the meantime, by a perfectly legitimate exercise of royal \
power, the territory of which Kent island was a^ part had
been granted to Lord Baltimore and the settlement of it had
begun. The Virginians petitioned the king against this
grant, but the privy council decided, after hearing the case,
that Lord Baltimore should be left to his patent and the
other party to the course of the law. The Virginians never
instituted suit.^ Governor Harvey was instructed to give >
such assistance to Lord Baltimore's colonists in establishing
themselves north of the Potomac as lay within his power.
He and Governor Calvert met as soon as the first body of
colonists reached Virginia waters, and courtesies were duly
exchanged. Claiborne was also informed that his rights on
Kent island would be protected and his enterprise there
encouraged, but he must acknowledge himself a tenant of
Lord Baltimore as proprietor. ^ If he wished to trade fur-
ther along the upper shore of Chesapeake bay, he must pro-
cure a license from Maryland.

Claiborne at once submitted this question to his colleagues

1 Colonial Papers, July 3, 1633. The caption of the order in council as
given in Md. Arch., Proceedings of Council, 1638-1667, 21, is wrong.

2 Calvert Papers, I. 135; Bozman, II. 27.




94 IMPERIAL CONTROL

in the Virginia council.^ They had been irritated by the
issue of the Maryland charter, because it curtailed their
domain. The appearance within the Chesapeake of commer-
cial rivals, and they, too, of the Catholic faith, was anything
but welcome to the Virginians. Therefore the council of
Virginia expressed wonder that Claiborne should raise the
question of recognizing Baltimore as his overlord. They
would not surrender their right to Kent island until the
validity of Baltimore's claim to it was determined by the
king. Meanwhile, however, they would live on good terms
with the Marylanders, and expected similar treatment in
return. Encouraged by this support, Claiborne refused to
acknowledge the superior rights of Lord Baltimore.

Before many months had passed the Patuxent Indians
began to grow restive, and when inquiry was made for the
cause, the Indians, through Henry Fleet as interpreter,
charged Claiborne with having told them that the settlers
at St. Mary's were Spaniards and enemies of the English.^
As Fleet was a rival of Claiborne in the Indian trade, the
truth of this testimony is seriously weakened. Later state-
ments of the Indians also tended to invalidate it. But it
led to the issue, in September, 1634, of an instruction by
Lord Baltimore that, if Claiborne continued his refusal to
acknowledge Maryland authority, he should be arrested and
imprisoned. A few months later a pinnace belonging to
Claiborne, which was trading in Maryland waters without
a license from Calvert, was captured. Thereupon Claiborne
manned a shallop under Lieutenant Ratcliffe Warren ^ and
commissioned him to seize any vessels which belonged to the
Maryland government. Upon hearing of this, the Maryland
governor sent out two armed pinnaces under Captain Thomas
Cornwallis. In the spring of 1635 two encounters occurred
between these forces, in the first of which four men were
killed and several wounded. Among the killed was Warren,
Claiborne's commander.

Virginia was much aroused over this affair, and it doubt-

1 Md. Arch., Proceedings of Council, 1667-1688, 164 ; Neill, 100.

2 Md. Arch., Proceedings of Council, 1667-1688, 165-168.
" Bozman, 1. 34.



BEGINNINGS OF BOYAL GOVEENMENT IN VIRGINIA 95

less contributed strongly toward the resistance which forced CHAP.
Harvey to leave the province. But, though Virginia ^ ^^' ,
sympathized with Claiborne, it was forced to send commis-
sioners to Maryland, who assisted in arranging a temporary
peace.

Near the close of 1636 George Evelyn ^ arrived in Mary-
land. He was sent over as the attorney of Cloberry and
Company, with instructions to take charge of the settlement
on Kent island and to request Claiborne to come to England
to explain his doings and adjust accounts. Though Evelyn
at first declared his belief that Baltimore was not legally
entitled to jurisdiction over Kent island, Claiborne, before he
left, in the presence of the servants tried to induce him to
give a bond of .£3000 that he would not deliver the island
over to the Marylanders.^ But the bond was not given and
Claiborne left the island in the hands of Evelyn. The latter,
whether led by conviction or interest, soon opened relations
with Governor Calvert. The governor appointed him com-
mander of Kent island, and he then tried to persuade its
inhabitants to freely submit to the Maryland government.
Failing in this, he persuaded Governor Calvert to reduce the
island by armed force. This was accomplished in December,
1637, and was accompanied with not a little harshness toward,
the faithful adherents of Claiborne. Against Claiborne, who
was still absent in England, the Maryland assembly passed
an act of attainder in March, 1638.3 All his lands and goods



Online LibraryHerbert L. (Herbert Levi) OsgoodThe American colonies in the seventeenth century → online text (page 10 of 54)