Petition Against Virginia Governor Francis Nicholson
This is the opening page of a handwritten petition "Concerning the Mal-administrations" of Governor Francis Nicholson. The ten-page document was dated May 20, 1703, and signed by James Blair, Robert Carter, Benjamin Harrison, John Lightfoot, Philip Ludwell, and Matthew Page, all members of the governor's Council. The petitioners claimed that the governor possessed a poor character and abused his office by taking on too much power for himself. The document noted the "vast number of instances of his injustice oppression and insolence to particular persons" as well as the "bad examples of his Life and Conversation." Among his many indiscretions was the forty-five-year-old governor's attempt to intimidate Lucy Burwell, the teenaged daughter of an influential Virginia family, into accepting his proposal of marriage. After she refused his advances, Nicholson taunted and threatened the Burwells and their allies among Virginia’s elite.