Basse was the second of twelve sons and second of eighteen children of Humphrey Basse and Mary Buschier Basse. His mother was of Italian descent, and his father was a prosperous London girdler of French ancestry who invested in the. Basse was probably born in London and was christened there in the parish of Saint Gabriel Fenchurch on December 19, 1589.
Basse first arrived in Virginia, so far as is known, in March 1619 with Christopher Lawne and other colonists associated in the settlement of Warrosquyoake Plantation in what is now Isle of Wight County. During 1620 Basse returned to England and obtained from the Virginia Company a confirmation of the patent to Warrosquyoake in November of that year. The company reconfirmed this patent in January 1622. In November 1621 Basse received a separate patent in his own name for a 300-acre tract a short distance west of Warrosquyoake on the east side of the Pagan River that has been called Basse’s Choice ever since. He returned to Virginia on the Furtherance about August or September 1622, after theon March 22, 1622, when, according to ‘s Generall Historie, the “had fired Lieutenant Basse his house, with all the rest there about, slaine the people, and so left that Plantation.”
Basse represented Warrosquyoake in the General Assembly sessions of February and March 1624, May 1625, March 1628, and October 1629. In June 1625 he signed a petition requesting Charles I to preserve the General Assembly as a fixture of the new royal government of the colony. Soon after arriving in Virginia late in March 1630, Governorappointed Basse to the governor’s Council. The length of his service is unknown, but he is named as a member on documents dated December 20, 1631, and February 21, 1632. On March 6, 1632, Harvey commissioned Basse “to trade between 34 and 31 degrees North Latitude and to go to New England, Nova Scotia, or the West Indie Islands with instructions to invite the inhabitants hither if any so inclined,” and sometime the same month Basse became presiding justice of the court of Warrosquyoake.
Extant records do not indicate whether Basse traveled to the other English colonies as directed, or whether he ever returned to England. He probably either remained in Virginia or returned to the colony following the voyages. The dearth of documentation also obscures much of Basse’s personal and family life. Tradition has it that he married Mary Jordan in London on May 21, 1613, that the third son of their ten sons and three daughters married a member of the Nansemond tribe in 1638, and that the Bass family of lower Tidewater Virginia is descended from this son. However, a deposition in England on behalf of his three surviving sisters, identified as his coheirs, asserted that he had died in Virginia without issue, an assertion borne out by a suit brought byagainst William Drummond, attorney of Basse’s coheirs, and settled in 1658. Nathaniel Basse died, probably in Virginia, sometime before this August 30, 1654, deposition was taken.