American biography: or, An historical account of those persons who have been distinguished in America, as adventurers, statesmen, philosophers, divines, warriors, authors, and other remarkable characters .. (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 24)
Online LibraryUnknownAmerican biography: or, An historical account of those persons who have been distinguished in America, as adventurers, statesmen, philosophers, divines, warriors, authors, and other remarkable characters .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 24)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



<& WHILST this Volume was in the prefs, the labors
and purfuits of the excellent Author were arrefted by death.
He died June zoth, 1798, in the midft of ufefulnefs and pub
lic eftimation. The friends to literature, to religion, and to
their country, will long deplore the lofs of fuch a man. In
reference to his eftimable hiftorical writings, we may juftly
apply to him the eulogy addrefled to an eminent Italian, who
wrote a Hiftory of Verona, in the fixteenth century :

Qua prius exciderant, qua? vix monumcnta manebant,

Reftituis patrice tot monumenta tux.
Per t gefta virum, per te patet urbis origo,

Ut patriae dici jam mereare pater ;
Marmora, longa dies, rabies et barbara perdet,

At non ulla tuum vis abolebit opus.

The whole of this Volume was prepared for the prefs by
the Author, excepting the Index, which, having been prom-
ifed in the Propofals, has been furnifhed by another hand.

With a view to the execution of his original plan of com
piling and publiftiing a complete American Biography, Dr.
Belkriap had procured and partially arranged a valuable col
lection of materials. Some of his collections were left in fuch
a ftate of preparation, that they might be readily fitted for
the prefs, if the public opinion fliould countenance the publi
cation, and the tendernefs of his friends to his literary reputa
tion fhould fuffer them to prefent to the world, any unfinifhed
production bearing the fandlipn of his name.
Bofton, Aug. zoth, 1798.

PROPOSALS have been iffued for publifhing by fubfcrip-.
tion, TIJJS Volumes of Dr. Belknap's Sermons. Thofe who
may be difpofed to encourage the work, and may not have
feen the Propofals, may become Subfcribers, by applying to,
any of the Bookfellers in Bofton..














Comprehending a Recital of

The EVENTS conneae<J with ther LIVES and



according to 28 of Congref0



Sold by them, and the other Bookfellers in Bojton ; by I. THOMAS,
Worcefter ; by THOMAS, ANDREWS fcf PENNIMAN, Albany; and by

JULY, 1798.



V ARIOUS caufes, uncontrollable by human power,
have concurred to retard the compilation and publication
of this Second Volume. A Third is in fome degree of for*

In Vol. I. page 56, it is faid that Governor Wentworth
of Nova-Scotia had employed a proper perfon, to fearch
for any veftige or tradition, which might remain, of the
ancient Colony of BIRON, In the ifland of Newfoundland.
The places which were pointed out as moft likely have
been explored. The refult is, that " not a veftige or tradi
tion remains of any Indians, but the Micmacs and Efqui-
maux. Very few of the former are feen, Of the latter,
fome vifit the ifland occafionally, for a fhort time, and re
turn to the continent. There is no appearance of grape
vines, or of any thing that could be miftaken for them,"

The inquiry, however hopelefs, will be continued, as
there may be opportunity ; and the refult, if any, will b$

POSTON, JUNE i, 1798.

fatiJt jerfi** it -s


1 HE beginning of the Colony of Virginia
has been related in the life of Capt. JOHN
SMITH ; to whofe ingenuity, prudence, pa
tience, activity, induftry and refolution, its fub-
fiftence during the firft three years, is princi
pally to be afcribed. It would have been either
deferted by the people, or deftroyed by the na
tives, had he not encouraged the former by his
unremitted exertions, and ftruck an awe into
the latter by his military addrefs and intrepidity.

THE views of the adventurers in England were
intent on prefent gain ; and their ftricT: orders
were to preferve peace with the natives. Nei
ther of thefe could be realized. Cultivation is
the firft object in all new plantations ; this re
quires time and induftry ; and till the wants of
the people could be fupplied by their own la
bour, it was neceffary to have fome dependence
on the natives, for fuch provifions as they could
fpare, from their own confumption ; and when
the fupply could not be obtained by fair bar
gain, it was thought neceffary to ufe ftratagem



or force. Thofe who. were on the fpot xvca-e
the belt judges of the time and the occafion of
ufing thofe means ; but they were not permit
ted to judge for themfelves. The company of
adventurers undertook to prefcribe rules, to
infiil on a rigorous execution, of them, and to
form various projects which never could be car
ried into effect. In. fhort, they expected more
from their Colony than it was poflible for it to
produce, in fo fhort a time, with fuch people as.
they *fent to refide there, and in the face of fo
many dangers and difficulties, which were con*
tinually prefeuted to theqi.

After the arrival of Capt. NEWPORT in Eng^
land, from his third voyage, the Company of
South Virginia, difappointed and vexed at the
fmall returns which th.e mips brought home, de ?
termined on a change of fyftem. They folicited
and obtained of the Crown a new Charter (May
23, 1609) and took into the Company a much
greater number of adventurers than before.
Not lefs than fix hundred and fifty-feven names
of perfons are inferted in the Charter, many of
whom were noblemen and gentlemen of fortune,
and merchants ; befide fifty-fix incorporated
companies of mechanics in the city of London ;*
and room was left for the admiflion of more,
The government at home was veiled in a Coim-
cil of fifty-two perfons, named in the Charter - 9

* Stith and Hazard.


at the head of which was Sir THOMAS SMITH,
the former Treafurer ; arid cfll vacancies which
might happen in the Council, were to be filled
by the vote of a majority of the Company legal
ly aflembled. This Council in England had th
power of appointing Governors and other offi
cers, to refide in Virginia, and of making laws
and giving inftructions for the government of
the Colony. In confequence of this power, the
Treafurer and Council -conftituted the following

tain General, ^yfl

Sir THOMAS GATES, Lieutenant General.



Sir THOMAS DALE, High Marfhall.


Several other gentlemen, whofe names are
not mentioned, were appointed to other offices,
all of which were to be holden during life.
This mayfeem a ftrange way of appointing offi
cers in a new Colony, efpecially when the Char
ter gave the Council power to revoke and dif-
charge them. But it is probable that thefe gen
tlemen had friends in the Company who were
perfons of wealth and influence, and who thought
the offices not worthy of their acceptance, unlefs



they could hold them long enough to make
their fortunes. The example of COLUMBUS
might have ferved as a precedent, who had
the office of Admiral of the Weft-Indies, not
only for life, but as an inheritance to his




JL\LL which is known with certainty
of this gentleman is, that he was a London
merchant, of great wealth and influence,
Governor of the Eaft-India and Mufcovy
Companies, and of the Company aflbciated
for the difcovery of the north- weft paflage ;
that he had been fent (1604) AmbafTador
from King James to the Emperor of Ruffia ;
that he was one of the Affignees of Sir Wal
ter Raleigh's patent, and thus became inter-
efted in the Colony of Virginia. He had
been Treafurer of the Company, under their
firft Charter, and prefided in all the meet
ings of the Council and of the Company i'n
England ; but he never came to America.
B It


It is unfortunate for the memory of Sii
Thomas Smith, that hoth the Company and
Colony of South Virginia were diffracted
by a malevolent party fpirit ; and, that he
was equally an object of reproach on the
one hand$ and of panegyric on the other.
To decide on the merit or demerit of his
character, at this diftance of time, would
perhaps require more evidence than can be
produced ; but candour is due to the dead,
as well as to the living.


He was a warm friend of Captain John
Smith, who in his account of Virginia, fpeaks
of him with refpecl, as a diligent and careful
overfeer, efpecially in fending fupplies to
the Colony, during his refidence there ; and
after his return to England, he depended on
Sir Thomas and the Council, for thofe ac
counts of the Colony which he has inferted
in his hiftory, fubfequent to that period.

In a dedication prefixed to a narrative of
the fhipwreck of Sir George Somers on the
ifland of Bermuda,* Sir Thomas is com
plimented in the following manner ; " Wor

* This narrative was written by Sylvefter Jordan, one
of the paffengers. The dedication was by another per-
fon, who fubfcribes it with the initials W. C. It was
printed with the black Engliih letter, 1613.


thy Sir, if other men were like you, if all
as able as you, were as willing, we fhould
ibon fee a fiourifhing Chriftian Church and
Commonwealth in Virginia. But let this
be your confolation ; there is one that is
more able and more willing than you> even
the GOD of heaven and earth. And know
further, for your comfort, that though the
burthen lie on you and a few more, yet
are there many honourable and worthy men
of all forts who will never {brink from you,
Go on, therefore, with courage and con-
ftancy ; and, be affured that though by your
honourable embaflages and employments,
and by your charitable and virtuous courfes,
you have gained a worthy reputation in this
world, yet nothing that you ever did or
fufFered, more honours you in the eyes of
all that are godly-wife, than your' faithful
and unwearied profecutipn, your continual
and comfortable affiftance of thofe foreign

But though flattered and complimented
by his admirers, yet he had enemies both
among the Company in England, and the
Colonifts in Virginia. By fome of his af-
Cociates, he was accufed of favouring the



growth of tobacco, in the Colony, to tlie
neglect of other ftaple commodities, which
the country was equally capahle of produ
cing. It was alfo alleged v that inftead of a
body of laws agreeable to the Englifh Con-
ftituUon, a book had been printed and ded
icated to him, and feat to Virginia by his,,
own authority, and without the order or
content of the Company ^ containing "Laws,
written in blood ;" which, though they might
ferve for a time of war, being moftly tranf-
lated from the martial law of the United
Netherlands, yet were deftructive of the
liberties of Englifh fubjeds, and contrary to
the exprefs letter of the Royal Charter. Fo^
this reafon, many people in England were,
deterred from emigrating to Virginia, and
many perfons in the Colony were unjuftlv
put to death.

In the Colony, the clamour againft him,
was flill louder. It was there faid, that he,
had been moft fcandalouily negligent, if not
corrupt, in the matter of fupplies ; that in a
certain period called " $he flarving time,"
the allowance for a man was only eight
ounces of meal and half a pint of peafe per
clay, and that neither of them were fit to be

eaten ;

S M I T H. j 3

eaten ; that famine obliged many of the people
to fly to the favages for relief, w r ho being re
taken were put to death for defertion ; that
others were reduced to the neceflity of ftealing,
which by his fanguinary laws was punimed
with extreme rigour ; that the fick and infirm,
who were unable tp work, were denied the
allowance, and famifhed for want ; that fome
in thefe extremities dug holes in the earth,
and hid thcmfelves till they perifhed ; that
the fcarcity was " fo lamentable^' that they
were conftrained to eat dogs, cats, fnakes,
and even human corpfes ; that one man
killed his wife, and put her flefh in pickle,
for which he was burnt to death,* Thefe
calamities were by the Colonifts fo, ftrongly
and pointedly laid to. the charge of the Treaf-
urer, that when they ha<J found a mare
which had been killed by the Indians, and
were boiling her flefti for food, tjiey wifhed
Sir Thomas was in the fame kettle. A, lift of
thefe grievances was prefented to King James;
and in the conclufion of the petition, they
begged his Majefty, that, " rather than be
reduced to live under the like government
again, he would fend over Coininiffioners to
Jjang them."


* Stith, 305.

j 4 S M I T H.

In anfwer to thefe accufations, it was faid,
that the original ground of all thefe calam^
hies, was the unfortunate (hipwreck of a vef-
fel loaded with fupplies, on the ifland of
Bermuda. This happened at a time when
Captain John Smkh was difabled and obliged,
to quit the Colony, which had been fupport-
cd in a great meafure by his exertions.*
Another fource of the mifchief was the in
dolence of the Colonifts themfelves ; who
regarded only the prefent moment, and took
no care for the future. This indolence was
fo great, that they would eat their fim raw s
rather than go to a fmall diftance from the
water for wood to drefs it. When there was
a plenty of fturgeon in the river, they would
not take any more than to ferve their pref
ent neceffity, though they knew the feafon
was approaching, when thefe fifh return to
the fea ; nor did they take care to preferve
their nets, but fuffered them to perifh for
want of drying and mending. Another
caufe, was the difhonefty of thofe who were
employed in procuring corn from the na
tives ; for having accomplifhed their object,
they went to fea and turned pirates ; fome of

* See Vol. I. 304.


them united with other pirates, and thofe
who got home to England, protcited that
they were obliged to quit Virginia, for fear
of ftarving. Beiides, it was faid that when
mips arrived with provifion, it was embcz-
led by the mariners, and the articles intend
ed for traffic with the Indians, were private
ly given away or fold for a trifle ; and fome
of the people venturing too far into their vil
lages, were furprized and killed.

The ftory of the man eating his dead wife,
was propagated in England by fome of the
deferters ; but when it was examined after
ward by Sir Thomas Gates, it proved to
be 'no more than this. One of the Colo-
nifts who hated his wife, fecretly killed her ;
then to conceal the murder, cut her body
in pieces, and hid them in different parts
of the houfe. When the woman was mifTed,
the man was fufpe&ed ; his houfe was fearch-
ed, and the pieces were found. To excufe
his guilt, he pleaded that his wife died of
hunger, and that he daily fed on her re
mains. His houfe was again fearched, and
other food was found ; on which he was
arraigned, ccnfcfledthe murdeiyand was pur
to death ; being burned, according to lav


* Purchas, Vol. V. 1757.


Though calumniated both in England and
America, Sir Thomas Smith did not wan*
advocates ; and his character for integrity
was fo well eftablilhed hi England} that when
ibme of the Company who had refdfed to
advance their quotas, pleaded his negligence
and avarice in their excule, the Court of
Chancery, before whom the affair was car
ried, gave a decree againft them, and they
were compelled to pay the fums which they
had fubfcribed.*

The charges againft him were equally
levelled againft the Council and Company ;
and by their order a declaration was publifh-
ed, in which the misfortunes of the Colony
are thus fummarily reprefented. " Caft up
the reckoning together, want of government,
ftore of idlenefs, their expectations fruftrated
by the traitors, their market fpoiled by the
mariners, their nets broken, the deer chafed,
their boats loft, their hogs killed, their trade
with the Indians forbidden, fbrrte of their men
fled, fome murdered, and moft by drinking the
brackifh water of James Fort weakened and
endangered ; famine and ficknefs by all thefe
means increafed. Here at home the monies


* Stith, 121.


came in fo flowly, that the Lord Delaware
could not be difpatched till the Colony was
worn and fpent with difficulties. Above all,
having neither ruler nor preacher, they feared
neither God nor man ; which provoked the
Lord, and pulled down his judgments upon

Sir Thomas Smith continued in his office
of Treafurer till 1619 ; when the prejudice
againft him became fo ftrong, that by the
intereft of the Earl of Warwick, who hated
him, his removal was in contemplation, f At
the fame time, Sir Thomas, being advanced
in years and infirmities ; having grown rich,
and having a fufficiency of bufmefs as Gov
ernor of the Eaft-India Company, thought
it prudent to retire from an office of fo great
refponfibility, attended with fo much trouble
and fo little advantage ; and accordingly fent
in his refignation to the Council of Virginia.
His friends would have difluaded him from
this meafure ; but he was inflexible. Sir
Edwin Sandys was elected his fucceflbr ;
a gentleman of good underftanding, and great
application to bufmefs. At his motion, a
gratuity of 2,000 acres of land in Virginia
was granted to Sir Thomas. He had been
C in

* Purchas, v. 1758. f Stith, 158.


in office upwards of twelve years, in which
time the expenfes of the plantation had
amounted to ^80,000 ; and though he had
declared that he left 4000 for his fuccefTor
to begin with, yet it was found on exami
nation, that the Company was in debt to a
greater amount than that fum.

Several ways were ufed for the raifmg
of fupplies to carry on the colonization of
Virginia. One was by the fubfcription of
the members of the Company ; another was
by the voluntary donations of Other people ;
and a third was by lotteries. Subfcriptions,
if not voluntarily paid, were recoverable by
law ; but this method was tedious and ex-
penfive. Donations were precarious, and
though liberal and well intended, yet they
fometimes confifted only of books and fur
niture for Churches and Colleges, and appro
priations for the education of Indian chil
dren. Lotteries were before this time un
known in England ; but fo great was the
rage for this mode of raifmg money, that
within the fpace of fix years the fum of
^29,000 was brought into the treafury. This
was " the real and fubllantial food, with
which Virginia was nourimed."^ The au

* Stith, 191.


thority on which the lotteries were ground
ed was the Charter of King James, (1609)
and fo tenacious was this monarch of his
prerogative, that in a fubfequent proclama
tion he vainly jin|rdi&ed the " fpeqking
againft the Virginian Lottery." Yet when
the Houfe jof Commons (1621) began to
call in queftion fome of the fuppofed rights
of royalty, thefe lotteries and the proclama
tion which enforced them, were complained
of and prefented among the grievances of the
nation. On that occaiion, an apology was
made by the King's friends,* " that he never
liked the Lotteries, but gave way to them,
becaufe he was told that Virginia could not
fubfift without them ;" and when the Com
mons infifted on their complaint, the mon
arch revoked the licence by an order of
Council ; in confequence of which the treaf-
ury of the Company was almoil without

* Chalmers' Annals, 33,



JL HE hiftory of thefe perfons is fo
blended, that a feparate account of each car>
not be written from any materials in my
pofieffion. Their characters, however, may
be diftinguimed in a few words, before I
proceed to the hifiory of their united tranf-
aclions, in the employment of the Company
and Colony of Virginia.

Lord DELAWARE is faid to have been a
worthy peer of an ancient family ; a man
of fine parts and of a generous difpofition ;
who took much pains, and was at a great
expenfe, to eftablifh the Colony ; in the fer-
vice of which he fuffered much in his health,
and finally died at fea, (1618) in his fecond
voyage to America, in or near the mouth of
the Bay which bears his name.*

Sir THOMAS GATES, was probably a
land officer. Between him and Sir George


* Purchas, v. 1757. Keith, 131. Stith, 148.


Somers, there was not that cordial harmony,
which is always defirable between men who
are engaged in the fame bufmefs. Excepting
this, nothing is faid to his difadvantage.*

Sir GEORGE SOMERS was a gentleman of
rank and fortune, of approved fidelity and in
defatigable induftry ; an excellent fea com
mander, having been employed in the navy
of Queen Elizabeth, and having diftinguifhed
himfelf in feveral actions againft the Span
iards in the Weft-Indies. At the time of
his appointment to be Admiral of Virginia,
he was above fixty years of age. f His feat
in Parliament was vacated by his acceptance
of a colonial commifTion. He died in the
fervice of the Colony (1610) at Bermuda,
highly efteemed and greatly regretted.

of ability and experience in the American
feas. He had been a commander in the na
vy of Elizabeth, and, in 1592, had conducted
an expedition againft the Spaniards in the
Weft-Indies ; where, with three or four (hips,
he plundered and burnt fome towns, and
took feveral prizes, with a conliderable booty.
He was a vain, empty, conceited man, and


* Stith, 115. f Chalmers, 27.

^ Purchas, v. 1735. Stith, nS.


very fond of parade. By tl} advantage of
going to and fro, he gained the confidence
of the Council and Company in England^
and whatever he propofed, was adopted by
them. Some traits of his chara&er have
been given in the life of Capt. John Smith.
In 1621 he imported fifty men, and feated
them on a plantation, which he called New
port's News. Daniel Gookin came with
a cargo of cattle from Ireland, and fettled
firft on this plantation, He afterward re
moved to New-England.*

Sir THOMAS DALE is faid to have been
a gentleman of much honour, wifdom and
experience, To him was entrufled the ex
ecution of the laws fent over by Sir Thom
as Smith ; which, though perhaps neceflary
at that time, (1611) when fo many turbu
lent and refractory perfons were to be gov
erned, yet were fubverfive of that freedom
which Englifhmen claimed as their birth
right, and gave too much power into the
hands of a Governor. Though his admin-
iftration was marked with rigour and fever-
ity, yet he did much toward advancing the
fettlements. On a high neck of land in

* Stith, 205. Beverly, 37. Pur chas, v. 1792-


James River named Varina, he built a town,
which he called Henrico, in honour of Prince
Henry, the remains of which were vifible
when Mr. Stith wrote his hifiory (1746.)
On the oppofite fide of the river he made a
plantation on lands, from which he expelled
the Indians, and called it New-Bermuda.*
He ftaid in Virginia about five years, and
returned to England (1616) after which
there is no farther account of him.

ing is faid but that he died foon after his
arrival in Virginia, with Lord Delaware, in
the fummer of i6io.f

When the new Charter of Virginia Was
obtained, the Council and Company imme
diately equipped a fleet, to carry fupplies of
men and women, with provifions and bther
neceflaries, to the Colony. The flee*- con-
fifted of feven (hips, in each of which, be-
fide the Captain, went one or more of the
Counfellors or other officers of the Colony ;
and though there was a difpute about rank
between two officers, Somers and Gates,
they were placed in one fhip with Newport,
the third in command. The Governor-

* Stith, 123, 124, 136. f Stith, 117.


General, Lord Delaware, did not fail with
this fleet ; but waited till the aext year, to
go with a further fupply, The names of the
ihips and their commanders were as follow.

The Sea- Adventure, Admiral Sir George
Somers, with Sir Thomas Gates, and
Captain Chriftopher Newport.
The Diamond, Captain Raddiffe and Cap
tain King.
The Falcon, Captain Martin and Mailer

The Blejfing, Gabriel Archer and Captain


The Unity, Captain Wood and Mafter Pett.
The Uon, Captain Webb.

Online LibraryUnknownAmerican biography: or, An historical account of those persons who have been distinguished in America, as adventurers, statesmen, philosophers, divines, warriors, authors, and other remarkable characters .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 24)