Author: Thad W. Tate


Edward Chilton (1658–1707)

Edward Chilton served as attorney general of Virginia and was the coauthor of The Present State of Virginia, and the College (printed in 1727). He arrived in Virginia by 1682, when he served as a clerk for the governor’s Council and the General Assembly. He also acquired several thousand acres of land. In 1694 Chilton returned to England, where he became a barrister. He remained involved with Virginia affairs and testified before the Board of Trade about conditions in the colony in 1696. The following year Chilton, along with James Blair and Henry Hartwell, prepared a report on the colony titled The Present State of Virginia, and the College. He requested and acquired the position of Barbados’s attorney general in 1699. He died in Portsmouth, England, in 1707.


James Blair (ca. 1655–1743)

James Blair was an Anglican minister, a notoriously combative member of the governor’s Council (1694–1695; 1696–1697; 1701–1743) who worked successfully to have three governors removed, and, with Francis Nicholson, the cofounder of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg. Born and educated in Edinburgh, Scotland, Blair came to Virginia in 1685 as rector of Henrico Parish. He married, acquired land, and in 1689 became commissary, or the Anglican bishop’s representative in America. Blair’s clerical convocations in 1690, 1705, and 1719 were notoriously rancorous in part due to his tendency to sympathize more with the laity than his fellow clerics; however, the 1690 meeting proved especially significant for Blair’s “Seven Propositions,” which led to the founding of the College of William and Mary. As president for life, Blair secured funding and overcame powerful opposition from men like Virginia governor Sir Edmund Andros. In the meantime, Blair consolidated his own power by becoming rector of James City Parish in Williamsburg, and in 1698 he successfully fought to have Andros removed. Over the years, Blair did the same to two more governors while continually expanding his college. By the 1720s he had rebuilt the school after a fire; housed an Indian school, chapel, library, and president’s house; drafted the first college statutes; hired the first full-time faculty; and transferred the original charter to the president and masters. Blair died in Williamsburg in 1743.