Author: Daphne Gentry

ENTRY

Chiles, Walter (1609–after July 6, 1653)

Walter Chiles was a member of the House of Burgesses (serving intermittently through the 1640s), a member of the governor’s Council (1651), and Speaker of the House of Burgesses (1653). The son of a merchant in Bristol, England, Chiles fitted out his own ship and settled in Virginia by 1638. He served as a burgess during the 1640s and sat on the governor’s Council in 1651. Chiles enjoyed success trading with the English and the Dutch, but in 1652 one of his ships was seized off the Eastern Shore for violating Parliament’s Navigation Act prohibiting unauthorized trade with the Netherlands. The resulting controversy spilled over into the General Assembly, where Chiles was elected Speaker of the House of Burgesses on July 6, 1653, in opposition to the governor, Richard Bennett. Having illustrated the independence of the House of Burgesses, Chiles resigned a day later, citing the impropriety of presiding over the body while it arranged a deal to resolve the conflict over his ship. He may have died soon afterwards, but the time and place of his death are not known.

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Capps, William (fl. 1609–1630)

William Capps represented Kecoughtan (later Elizabeth City County) in the first General Assembly. An employee of the Virginia Company of London, Capps likely arrived in the colony in 1609. He oversaw the shipment of supplies into the new territory and advised the company’s English officials on Virginia’s affairs, but feuded with its representatives in the colony, including Governor Sir George Yeardley. He was one of a number of colonists who agitated for the Crown’s takeover of Virginia. Subsequently, Capps became a royal agent and conveyed instructions on economic diversification to the settlers. He last appeared in surviving records related to the colony in 1630.

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Burwell, Carter (1716–1756)

Carter Burwell was a key member of the House of Burgesses who built Carter’s Grove plantation. The heir of substantial estates from both his father and his grandfather Robert “King” Carter, he became a powerful figure in James City County politics. The constituency’s voters elected him to the House of Burgesses in 1742. He served until 1755, chairing the influential Committee of Privileges and Elections and working as an important ally of John Robinson, the body’s powerful speaker. He is best known for the Georgian home he had built at Carter’s Grove, considered an important example of the era’s architecture.

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Brooke, George (d. 1782)

George Brooke was a member of the House of Burgesses (1765, 1771, 1774), the Convention of 1776, and the Senate of Virginia (1776–1779), and served as treasurer of Virginia from 1779 until his death. Born in King William County, he moved to King and Queen County after his marriage and formed a mercantile partnership with one of his wife’s relatives. He earned a reputation as a reliable businessman and was involved in settling the controversial and politically sensitive estate of Speaker John Robinson. During the American Revolution (1775–1783) he sat in the Revolutionary Conventions, although he missed the vote for independence in 1776, and was paymaster to several Virginia regiments. At the end of his life he served as treasurer of Virginia, helping to supervise the transfer of the capital from Williamsburg to Richmond and to keep the state’s fiscal affairs intact during British raids in 1781. He died in 1782.

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Bracken, John (bap. 1747–1818)

John Bracken was the rector of Bruton Parish from 1773 until his death, ran the grammar school at the College of William and Mary, and, from 1812 to 1814, served as the school’s ninth president. Bracken was born in England, where he was ordained a minister. His appointment as rector of Bruton Parish, in Williamsburg, was controversial and exposed rifts within the colonial church. In 1775, he took over the college’s grammar school, which closed and reopened and then closed again in the ensuing decades. He became a professor of humanity in 1777 was granted a DD in 1793. In 1812 Bracken was elected William and Mary’s president at a time when the school had only a few dozen students. He was generally ineffective and was asked to resign after two years. In his later years, Bracken served as mayor of Williamsburg and president of the board of Williamsburg’s Public Hospital. He died in 1818.

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Bohun, Lawrence (d. 1621)

Lawrence Bohun was a member of the govenror’s Council and physician general of the Virginia colony. Born probably in England, Bohun may have received his medical training at Leiden. He sailed to Virginia in 1610 as personal physician to the governor. Bohun returned to England and in 1612 was named as a shareholder in the third charter of the Virginia Company of London. While practicing medicine in London, he retained his interest in Virginia and may have been involved in an attempt to introduce silk culture there. Appointed physician general of the colony and a member of the Council in 1620, Bohun sailed for Virginia but was killed on March 19, 1621, when Spanish warships attacked his ship in the West Indies.

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Bluett, Benjamin (1580–1621)

Benjamin Bluett was a member of the governor’s Council (1620–1621). Born in Surrey County, England, he lived in Sussex and worked as a merchant supplying the Virginia colony. In 1620, the Virginia Company of London appointed Bluett to the governor’s Council and put him in charge of a company of men working to establish an iron-mining and smelting operation in Virginia. He arrived in the colony that summer but died soon after, possibly in an attack by Virginia Indians.

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Bland, Theodorick (bap. 1630–1672)

Theodorick Bland was the Speaker of the House of Burgesses (1660) and a member of the governor’s Council (1662–1672). Probably born in London, he was educated there and lived for several years in Spain, where his family worked in the wine business. Bland had moved to Virginia by 1653 to take control of family land and was elected to the House of Burgesses, representing Charles City County, in 1660. That year he presided over two sessions as Speaker, helping to navigate Virginia through the political uncertainty that surrounded the end of the Commonwealth and the restoration of Charles II. Elected again to the House in 1661 and 1662, this time from Henrico County, he was not reelected Speaker, and in 1662, the governor, Sir William Berkeley, appointed him to the governor’s Council. He died in 1672 and was buried at Westover, his estate in Charles City County.

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Basse, Nathaniel (bap. 1589–1654)

Nathaniel Basse was an English colonist who represented Warrosquyoake in the House of Burgesses (1624, 1625, 1628, 1629) and served on the governor’s Council. The length of his service on the Council is unknown, but he is named as a member on documents dated December 20, 1631, and February 21, 1632. He came to Virginia in March 1619 with Christopher Lawne. In 1621 he received a grant of 300 acres of land; his settlement, Basse’s Choice, was among the first English settlements in Isle of Wight County. Knowledge of his personal and family life is obscured by a lack of documentation, but tradition holds that he may have been the father of John Bass, who married a member of the Nansemond tribe in 1638 and from whom the Bass family of lower Tidewater Virginia is descended. However, a deposition recorded in England on August 30, 1654, states that Basse died without issue.

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Allen, John (d. 1799)

John Allen was a member of the House of Delegates (1796–1798) and the Council of State (1799). Allen’s family history is obscured by the fact that a number of other men of the same name living in Tidewater Virginia during his lifetime. He is likely the son of Jones Allen, who had previously owned 100 acres of land that Allen paid taxes on in 1795. In 1798, while representing James City County in the assembly, Allen voted for James Madison‘s Virginia Resolutions protesting the Alien and Sedition Acts. He won election to the Council of State in 1799 but died a few weeks later in Richmond.

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