Author: Thomas Daniel Knight

assistant professor in the department of history and philosophy at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Daniel Parke (1669–1710)

Daniel Parke was a Virginia politician who gained his first public office at age nineteen, when he was elected to the House of Burgesses for James City County (1688). By age twenty-six, he had acquired a seat on the governor’s Council (1695–1697). He relocated to England in 1697. He served as an aide-de-camp to John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, during the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714), and carried news of Marlborough’s victory at the Battle of Blenheim to Queen Anne in 1704. The queen rewarded Parke with a governorship in the Leeward Islands, a small island chain in the Caribbean, which he assumed in 1706. But Parke’s accomplishments masked a darker side. Arrogant and at times violent, he became estranged from his wife and children in Virginia, had a number of extramarital relationships, and fathered offspring out of wedlock. Ultimately, Parke’s sexual improprieties contributed to his political undoing. Residents of the Leeward Islands complained that he had “debauched” many of their wives and daughters, in addition to exceeding his authority as their governor; a bloody riot ended Parke’s governorship, and his life, on December 7, 1710, when an angry mob pulled him from his home and murdered him.


Edmund Jenings (1659–1727)

Edmund Jenings served as Virginia’s attorney general (ca. 1680–1691) and secretary of state (1696–1712), as well as on the governor’s Council (1691–1726). As the president, or senior member, of that body, he also served as acting governor (1706–1710). Born and educated in England, Jenings came to Virginia with an introduction from the future King James II and an appointment to the post of attorney general. He became a political ally of Ralph Wormeley II and Richard Lee II, and helped his own political rise by marrying their relative, Frances Corbin. On the Council, Jenings tended to support the authority of royal governors, and although described by Robert Quary as “a man who is thought by all parties to be an indifferent person and unconcerned on either side,” he made powerful enemies by defending the widely disliked Governor Francis Nicholson. After Nicholson’s replacement died in office, Jenings served for four years as acting governor. He was largely ineffective, however, and during his later years he appeared to suffer from mental illness. When he became overwhelmed by debt, one of his political opponents, Robert “King” Carter, took over Jenings’s management of the Northern Neck Proprietary, using that position to mortgage Jenings’s land and property. In 1726, with another governor ill, the Council recommended Jenings’s removal rather than let him serve again as acting governor. He died the next year.