Author: Kathleen M. Brown


Lucy Burwell (1683–1716)

Lucy Burwell is best known for rejecting the fervent and sometimes menacing courtship of Governor Sir Francis Nicholson. The teenaged daughter of a key Virginia family chose to marry Edmund Berkeley, twelve years her senior, instead of the forty-five-year-old governor. Humiliated by this rejection, Nicholson taunted and threatened the Burwells and their allies among Virginia’s elite. These actions, along with his attempted reforms of the colony’s politics, led to a petition against Nicholson. Queen Anne ultimately removed him from office. In exercising her prerogative to choose her own husband, Burwell became a symbol of Virginia’s opposition to heavy-handed rule. She bore Berkeley at least five children before her death in 1716.