Author: Kevin R. Hardwick


Culpeper, Thomas, second baron Culpeper of Thoresway (1635–1689)

Thomas Culpeper, second baron Culpeper of Thoresway, was a governor of Virginia (1677–1683) and a proprietor of the Northern Neck. In 1649, the soon-to-be-exiled King Charles II granted Culpeper’s father and six others ownership of the Northern Neck in Virginia but in the end was not able to make good on the gift. In the meantime, the younger Culpeper served the king as governor of the Isle of Wight and vice president of the Council for Foreign Plantations. In 1681, Culpeper, who already had permission from the king to collect rents from the Northern Neck, secured five-sixths ownership of the land, a claim he was forced to surrender when the Virginia colonists protested. Culpeper became the colony’s governor in 1677 but was content to do so absentee until late in 1679, when Charles II forced him to sail to Virginia. There, he acted on the king’s instructions by curtailing the power of the General Assembly, authorizing a series of regular taxes, including on tobacco exports, and, generally, clarifying the colony’s subordinate relationship with England. Culpeper left Virginia in economic crisis and was replaced in 1683, but he continued to purchase land, and renewed his Northern Neck claim in 1688. The proprietary eventually descended to the family of his son-in-law, Thomas Fairfax, fifth baron Fairfax of Cameron. After supporting William of Orange during the Glorious Revolution (1688), Culpeper died in 1689.

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