1676: the year of Bacon’s Rebellion.
In a 1909 Journal of American History, R.T. Crowder of Gloucester County published a very pro-Bacon history, calling him “The Washington of his day” and so forth. Full text below. (accessed from http://www.newrivernotes.com/va/baconc.htm)
First Native Marytrs in America
Of the Spirit of American Indpendence
Revolt 100 Years Before the American Revolution in which American Character First Asserted Iteself. Native Americans aroused by the Message of Liberty hearalded through Bacon’s Rebellion
R. T. CROWDER
GLOUCESTER COUNTY, VIRGINIA
Author of “First American Manor-places” in Preceding Number of THE JOURNAL OF AMERICAN HISTORY
[Published in the Journal of American History, 1909]
THE first revolt in America against the political system was aroused by the tariff problem-an economic enigma which today still hangs heavy on the American people. The problem which is still making and unmaking statesmen and presidents was the real cause of the first positive assertion of American character, and kindled the flame of American Independence. One hundred years before the American Revolution, which was also largely based on the tariff problem, the American people were remonstrating against restraints on trade, which they declared created a dangerous system of special privilege which was unjust in its principles and dangerous in its results. These arguments have been, and still are, directed against the institution which was intended primarily to protect home trade and create the revenue for conducting the government. It is not the purpose of these pages to enter into this greatest of economic discussions, but merely to grant historical record to it. Investigations have recently been pursued in Virginia into the causes of the first American revolt, known as Bacon’s Rebellion, in 1676. There has been much discussion regarding this uprising. The investigator here produces evidence that the underlying cause was the English navigation law which refused free trade between America and foreign nations. Proof is also presented in denial of the claim that Bacon’s Rebellion was based wholly upon disagreement over the Indian policy, which has been frequently charged against the first revolutionists. The investigator claims that Bacon’s Rebellion was the forerunner of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution and that its loss in life constituted the first martyrdom to the political principle of liberty and independence in America. The investigator further believes that he has found the hitherto unknown burial-place of this first American Revolutionist.-EDITOR
TO THE MEMORY OF BACON
“In Memoriam, Nathanael Bacon, the younger, General and member of the Governor’s Council. Born in Suffolk, England-1630-40-died in this County in 1676. Originator of his socalled Rebellion, whose influence in the foundation of the Spirit of Americanism is immeasurrable-the Washington of his day, popular and patriotic, whose magnanimity strongly contrasted with Berkeley’s malignity. A soldier, a statesman, a saint-Gloucester, who honors the noble dead, and cherishes the memory of kingly men, and in whose soil the body of Bacon is said to sleep, erects this monument to the great patriot, by the authority of the Circuit Court, through the generosity of friends.”
This tribute to the memory of Nathanael Bacon, the younger, will be found, word for word, engraved on a plain marble slab in the Gloucester Court House, Virginia, Let us try to study his Rebellion in a few of its principal phases and see how nearly the above reaches the truth; but first let us see who this Nathanael Bacon, Junior was, prior to his Rebellion.
In a letter from Lord Chatham to his nephew, the Earl of Camelford, he advises him to read “Nathaniel Bacon’s Historical and Political Observations, which is, without exception, the best and most instructive book we have on matters of that kind.” This formerly much read book was published first in 1647, undergoing three editions. For the last one, 1682, the publisher was outlawed, since the book was written with a bias to the principles of the parliamentary party, to which Bacon belonged. The author was very probably related to Lord Bacon and also the rebelcould the reference be to the rebel’s father? Both are spoken of as being of Gray’s Inn-Nathaniel, junior studied law there. His mother was daughter of Sir Robert Brook, and he married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir Edward Duke. For paternal ancestry the following table-from the “Virginia Magazine,” 11.125-and published in Fiske’s “Old Virginia and Her Neighbors,” 11.64-will show his connection with the celebrated Lord Bacon:
The arms given in Virginia Magazine, Vol. 11-126, is evidently a mistake, since it puts color on color, and thus violates one of the canons of heraldry. Burke gives us: “Gu., on a chief Arg., two mullets pierced Sa.
Crest-a Boor,”-which we believe to be correct. Nathanael Bacon of King’s Creek in the Colony of Virginia, a man of great wealth and influence, had intended making his namesake-the rebel-his heir; but owing to the premature death of the young man, his estate was bequeathed to his neice, Abigail Burwell, who lies buried at Carter’s Creek, Gloucester.
Nathanael Bacon, junior, received yearly one hundred and fifty pounds for lands owned in England, but after his marriage he sold his lands to Sir Robert Jason for twelve hundred pounds sterling, and removed with his wife to Virginia. He landed in Virginia about 1672-3 and in 1676 was about “eight and twenty”. Of his appearance, the “Winder Papers,” Virginia State Library, give us the following description: “He was a person whose erratique fortune had carryed and shewne him many Forraigne Parts, and of no obscure Family. Upon his first coming into Virginia he was made one of the Councill, the reason of that advancement (all on a sudden) being best known to the Governour, which honor made him the more considerable in the eye of the Vulgar, and gave some advantage to his pernicious designs. He was . . . indifferent tall but slender, blackhair’d and of an omnious, pensive, melancholy aspect, of a pestilent & prevalent Logical discourse tending to atheisme in most companyes, not given to much talke, or to make suddain replyes, of a most imperious and dangerous hidden Pride of heart, despising the wisest of his neighbours for their Ignorance, and very ambitious and arrogant. But all these things lay hidd in him till after hee was a councillor, and untill he became powerfull & popular.”
At this time, it is very difficult indeed to state the exact causes of Bacon’s Rebellion. But we believe that there were a great many circumstances and action of those in power which tended to foment the people and stir them up for rank rebellion. Of the many causes for rebellion, we believe the most of them may come under the following four heads:
2. The tendency toward a proprietary government.
3. The Indian disturbances.
4. The disaffection with Berkeley’s measures against the Indians.
THE FIRST NAVIGATION ACT
The first Navigation Act was passed by the Rump Parliament in 1661, and provided that no merchandise of Asia, Africa or American plantations should be imported into England in any but English built ships belonging to English or English Plantation subjects, navigated by an English commander, with three-fourths of the crew Englishmen.
When Virginia surrendered to the Commissioners of Cromwell it was stated that the Colony should have “free trade as the people of England do enjoy to all places, and with all nations according to the laws of that Commonwealth.” The Virginians insisted on this clause and by act of Assembly, required that the master of every vessel reaching Virginia should give bond six days after arrival that he would not disturb any ship in the jurisdiction of the Colony. In 1653 when Governor Stuyvesant, of New Amsterdam, proposed a commercial alliance with Virginia, he was told that the Colonists must first consult the English Council of State before entering into his alliance. This seems to indicate that Virginia did not, at first at least, enjoy free trade.
Whatever the privileges at this time were, when the second Navigation Act was passed at the beginning of Charles the Second’s administration, it placed the Colonists of Virginia upon the footing of all other English Subjects. The first clause of the second act prescribed that . “no goods nor commodities whatsoever should be imported into or exported from any of the King’s lands, islands, plantations or territories in Asia, Africa or America, in any other than English, Irish or plantation built ships, and whereof the master and at least threefourths of the mariners shall be Englishmen, under forfeiture of ships and goods.” The second act further provided that, “no sugar, tobacco, cotton, wool, indigo, ginger, fustic and other dyeing woods of the growth or manufacture of our Asian, African, or American Colonies, should be shipped from the said Colonies to any place but to England, Ireland, or to some other of his Majesty’s said plantations, there to be landed under forfeiture of goods and ships.”
John Bland, a London merchant, who expended large sums of money in the Colony, amounting to two hundred and fifty thousand dollars in American money yearly, and who acted as merchant for planters in Virginia and Maryland-was thoroughly familiar with the interests of the planters-he presented an able defense of the planters to the authorities in England, “on behalf of the inhabitants and planters in Virginia and Maryland.” It began in the following way:
“To the King’s most Excellent Majesty.”The humble Remonstrance of John Bland of London, Merchant, on behalf of the Inhabitants and Planters in Virginia and Maryland.
“Most Humbly representing unto your Majesty the inevitable destruction of those Colonies, if so be that the late act for encrease of Trade and shipping be not as to them dispensed with; for it will not only ruinate the inhabitants and Planters, but make desolate the largest fertilest and most glorious Plantation under your Majesties Dominion; the which if otherwise suspended will produce the greatest advantage to this Nation’s Commerce and considerablest Income to your Majesties Revenue, that any part of the world doth to which we trade.”
He states ” . . . again, if the Hollanders must not trade to Virginia, how shall the planters dispose of their tobacco? The English will not buy it (all) for what the Hollander carried thence was a sort of tobacco not . . . used by us in England but merely to transport for Holland. Will it not then perish on the planter’s hands? Which undoubtedly is not only an apparent loss of so much stock and commoditie to the plantations who suffer thereby, but for want of its employment an infinite prejudice to the Commerce in general.”
” . . . I demand then, in the next place, which way shall the charge of governments be maintained, if the Hollanders be debarred trade in Virginia and Maryland, or anything raised to defray the constant and yearly levies for the securing the inhabitants from invasions of the Indians? How shall the forts and public places be built and repaired, with many other incident charges daily arising which must be taken care for, else all will come to destrustion?for when the Hollander traded thither, they paid upon every anchor of brandy (which is about 25 gallons) 5 shillings import brought in by them, and upon every hogshead of tobacco carried thence 10 shillings; and since they were debarred trade, our English, did not, whilst the Hollander traded there, pay anything, neither -would they they traded not . . ; so that all these charges being taxed on the poor planters, it hath so impoverished them that they scarce can recover wherewith to cover their nakedness. As foreign trade makes rich and prosperous any country that hath within it any staple commodities to invite them thither, so it makes men industrious, striving with others to gather together into societies, and building of towns and nothing doth it sooner than the concourse of shipping, as we may see before our eyes, Dover and Deal what they are grown into, the one by the Flanders trade, the other by ships riding in the Downs.”
PROPOSALS OF FREE TRADE
“…let me on behalf of the said colonies of Virginia and Maryland make these following proposals, which I hope will appear but equitable:
“First, that the traders to Virginia and Maryland from England shall furnish and supply the planters and inhabitants of those colonies with all sorts of commodities and necessaries which they may want, or desire, at as cheap rates and prices as the Hollanders used to have when the Hollander was admitted to trade thither.
“Secondly, that the said traders out of England to those colonies shall not only buy of the planters such tobacco… as is fit for England, but take off all that shall be yearly made by them, at as good rates and prices as the Hollanders used to give for the same, by bills of exchange or otherwise.
“Thirdly, that if any of the inhabitants or planters of the said colonies shall desire to ship his tobacco or goods for England, that the traders from England to Virginia and Maryland shall let them have freight in their ships at as low and cheap rates as they used to have when the Hollanders and other nations traded thither.
“Fourthly, that for maintenance of the governments, raising of forces to withstand the invasions of the Indians building of forts and other public works needful in such new discovered countries, the traders from England to pay these in Virginia and Maryland as much yearly as was received of the Hollanders and strangers as did trade thither, whereby the country may not have the whole burden to lie on their hard and painful labour and industry, which ought to be encouraged but not discouraged.
“Thus having proposed in my judgment what is both just and equal, to all such as would not have the Hollanders permitted to trade into Virginia and Maryland. I hope if they will not agree hereto, it will easily appear it is their own profits and interest they seek not those colonies’s nor your Majesty’s service, but in contrary the utter ruin of all the inhabitants and planters there; and if they perish, that vast territory must be left desolate, to the exceeding disadvantage of this nation and your Majesty’s honour and revenue.”
After this proposal and exposure of selfish interests of English officials, Bland concludes: “Let all Hollanders and other nations whatsoever freely trade into Virginia and Maryland, and bring thither and carry thence whatever they please.” With the condition to enable English ships to compete with French and Dutch, he suggests a tonnage duty “to counterpoise the cheapness” of navigating Dutch and other ships.
At a mere glance at the second act one may easily see the disabling effect of the law, on Virginia planters, which called forth Bland’s opposition in their defense; and as one may rightly guess, the inevitable result of the law, was the low price of tobacco, the chief support of planters.
“TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION”-THE CLOSE VESTRY
Prior to 1662 the vestrymen were elected by the parishioners, and this was proper. It was called the “open vestry”; but after this time the vestry was closed. That is, it was made a self perpetuating body, wherein the people of the parish had no say. This meant taxation without representation and was a direct step toward a proprietary or despotic government. It caused frequent murmuring among the Colonists; but so long as the vestry did what was good and “above board” the Colonists acquiesced. Indeed, among so many conflicting disturbances it was difficult for the planters to give much thought to any one of them.
THE PROPRIETARY GRANT OF 1673
Another stroke of injustice happened by the absolutely foolish way in which Charles the Second repaid his favourites for their public service to the crown. Some of the grants of wild lands in America made by the King to his favourites were very proper; but when lands already granted and occupied by Englishmen were again granted to others, the climax was well nigh reached.
In 1673, Charles granted to the Earl of Arlington and Lord Culpeper all the territory of Virginia, including wild lands, and long settled and improved plantations. The grant was made for the term of thirty-one years, at the rent of forty shillings per annum. These patents entitled the grantees to all rents. escheats, etc., with power to convey vacant lands, nominate sheriffs. etc. In short, turned all the territory of Virginia into a proprietary government, for “although the grants to these noblemen were limited to a term of years, yet they were preposterously and illegally authorized to make conveyances in fee simple.”
RENEWED INDIAN INCURSIONS
In 1675 the plantation of Greenspring, near Jamestown, was settled on Sir William Berkeley, for “the great pains he hath taken and hazards he has run, even of his life, in the government and preservation of the country from many attempts of the Indians.” For some time prior to this date the Indians had made frequent inroads on the frontier. They now renewed their attacks with greater force. The people petitioned Sir William for protection, and upon the meeting of the assembly, war was declared against the Indians in March 1676. The forts were garrisoned and the five hundred enlisted men were put under command of Sir Henry Chicheley, and he was ordered to disarm the neighboring Indians. Things now seemed to be in better shape for the people; but they were instructed to carry arms with them to church, fasting days were appointed, and provision was made for employing the Indians. The people were better satisfied. Sir Henry Chicheley was beginning his march against the common enemy the Indians.. when, to the surprise of every one, Sir William Berkeley ordered him to disband his forces. At this point the Indians continued their incursions, causing the people great alarm. Tortured by fearful apprehension they went to their fields knowing not what time they would be struck down by the lurking foe. Added to these troubles were the common superstitions current at that date.
“T. M.’s” ACCOUNT
An old chronicler of Bacon’s Rebellion, “T. M.,” believed to be Thomas Mathews, son of Colonel Samuel Mathews, at one time Goverernor-gives us a very interesting account. “About the year 1675,” says “T. M.” “appeared three prodiges in this country, which from th’ attending disasters were look’d upon as omnious presages.
“The one was a large comet every evening for a week or more at southwest; thirty five degrees high streaming like a horse taile westwards, untill it reached (almost) the horrison, and setting towards the Northwest.”Another was, fflights of pigeons in breadth nigh a quarter of the midhemisphere, and of their length was no visible end; whose weights brake down the limbs of large trees whereon these rested at nights, of which ffowlers shot abundance and eat ‘em; this sight put the old planters under the most portentous apprehension, because the like was seen (as they said) in the year 1640 when the Indians committed the last massacre, but not after, untill that present year 1675.
“The third strange appearance was swarms of fflyes about an inch long, and big as the top of a, man’s little finger, rising out of spigot holes in the earth, which eat the new sprouted leaves from the tops of the trees without other harm, and in a month left us.”
“T. M’s” account; written probably thirty years after the Rebellion, we find very interesting as we follow the trend of the Rebellion. It was first printed in the “Richmond (Virginia) Enquirer” in 1804 from an exact copy of original manuscript made by Mr. Jefferson, then President of the United States. The spelling and orthography show their age.
THE MURDER OF ROBERT HEN
In the summer of 1675, on a Sunday Morning, Robert Hen, a herdsman, with an Indian was slain. Hen was found, mortally wounded, at his cabin door in Stafford County, by people on their way to Church. He told them in a dying breath that the outrage had been committed by some Algonquins of the hostile Doeg tribe. Colonel Mason and Captain Brent, with a small party of militia, pursued the criminals about twenty miles, killing the red men whenever occasion presented. Unfortunately he came across a party of Susquehannocks, a friendly tribe, and killed many of them. A chief ran up and told Colonel Mason of the mistake, and the firing was instantly stopped. He told Mason also, that the herdsman was killed neither by Algonquins nor Susquehannocks, but by Senecas, a tribe of the Five Nations. The affair had gone far enough to have unfortunate consequences. The Susquehannocks now took refuge in an old fort of the Piscataways, a friendly tribe, on the North Bank of the Piscataway river near the present site of the City of Washington. More murders occurred among the inhabitants of Maryland, and the Maryland government sent out Major Thomas Truman, in command of some militia, to dislodge the Susquehannocks. The Marylanders asked that Virginia should send a cooperative party to assist in this work.
The Virginia leader was Colonel John Washington, who immigrated to Virginia in 1657, from Yorkshire, England. The two Commanders set out to dislodge the Indians, but through the proposition of Major Truman, five of the chiefs were sent out as envoys from the fort and were found guarded by Truman when Washington arrived across the Potomock. The envoys were accused of many of the recent outrages, all of which they denied. Washington asked, why was it that a party of Susquehannocks just captured wore the clothes of some murdered whites? Nine of their tribe lay unburied at Hurston’s plantation, killed by the whites in self defense. The envoys denied these to be any of their party, whereupon it was suggested that Ti Truman take the envoys over to Hurston’s place that they might be confronted with their own dead. Truman set about to perform this office, but in a short while had the envoys put to death”Knocked on the head.” Truman was impeached for this piece of savage cruelty, but escaped without other punishment.
It is very probable, though, that the Susquehannocks lied, and deserved some sort of punishment as example; however, it was-base to disregard the rules of civilized warfare by putting them to death. They were hardly guilty of the murder of Hen, but did commit the more recent depravities; lying to bring down vengeance on their enemies the Senecas. Of the murder of Robert Hen, “T. M.” says: “Ffrom this Englishman’s bloud did (by degrees) arise Bacon’s Rebellion with the following mischiefs which overspread all Virginia and twice endangered Maryland ….”
Colonel Washington’s force was too small to hold in check the infuriated Susquehannocks, who had escaped from the fort and stirred up other tribes at the heads of the rivers to wreak vengeance on the whites. The woods became alive with war-painted red men, lurking under cover of the forests, ready to commit any outrage that might present itself. “On a single day in January, 1676, within a circle of ten miles’ radius, thirty-six people were murdered; and when the governor was notified, he coolly answered that nothing could be done until the assembly’s regular meeting in March.” As noted before in this paper, when the assembly did meet in March and got together forces for defense, the militia was immediately disbanded by the perverse Berkeley.
Various counties showed their grievances. Surry County: “That great quantityes of tobacco has been Raised for the building of fforts & yett no place of defense in ye Country sufficient to secure his Majesties poore subjects from the ffury of floraine Invaders.”
Isle of Wight County: “Also wee desire that ther be a continuall warr with the Indians that we may have once have done with them Many other counties likewise filed their grievances; but to them all, Berkeley paid little attention.
MURDER of BACON’S OVERSEER
Nathanael Bacon lived at Curles, in Henrico County, on the James River; but beside this estate he owned one farther up the river in the suburbs of Richmond called “Bacon Quarter Branch.” It is said that the young man had said: “If the redskins meddle with me, damn my blood but I’ll hurry them, commission or no commission.” He very soon had good occasion to carry out this threat, for in May, 1676, word was brought to him at “Curles” that “Quarter Branch” had been attacked and his overseer and a servant slain. The people, armed and prepared for a march, gathered around him, asking him to lead them against the Indians.
The fiery Bacon-one of the most gifted and popular men in all Virginia-made an eloquent speech and accepted the command; but first sent a courier to the governor again asking a commission. Berkeley returned an evasive reply, which Bacon took as permission to march, and sent a very polite letter of thanks to the Governor for the promised commission. Bacon, now having mustered about five hundred men, marched to the falls of the James. No sooner had he done this than Sir William issued a proclamation declaring all who did not return home within a certain time rebels. At this, all of Bacon’s force deserted him, with the exception of about sixty men; he paid no attention to this, however, and with scarce provisions, made his way farther up the river. After some searching in the wilderness of the upper James, Bacon came across a party of Indians lodged in an old fort. They were soon routed, and Bacon and his men soon returned to their homes; very shortly after this Bacon was elected one of the Burgesses from Henrico County.
Meanwhile Berkeley, becoming infuriated at Bacon’s action, took the field with a party of horse, to suppress and arrest this young man. Berkeley, hearing that the whole peninsula of York was uprising, and fearing civil war, returned home and much to his distaste had to dissolve the “long parliament” which had continued its meetings since 1660.
Among the members of this legislature, may be mentioned: Captain William Berkeley, Colonel William Clayton, Adjutant-General Jennings, Captain Daniel Parke, Colonel John Washington, and Colonel Edward Scarburgh. Robert Wynne was speaker for the house until 1676 when he was succeeded by Augustine Warner of Gloucester. James Minge of Charles City was clerk.
THE ARREST OF BACON
After his election, while going down James River with a party of friends, Bacon was met by a war vessel and ordered on board, where he was arrested by the High Sheriff of James City, Major Howe. Berkeley addressed him, “Mr. Bacon, you have forgot to be a gentleman.” “No, may it please your honor,” replied Bacon. “Then,” said the governor, “I’ll take your parole.” This he did, giving him his liberty; but a number of his companions he kept in irons. The members of the new assembly on June the 9th, were sent for by the governor. He addressed them for a while on the Indian disturbances, in an abrupt speech, Then said: “If there be joy in the presence of the angels over one sinner that repenteth, there is joy now, for we have a penitent sinner come before us. Call Mr. Bacon.” Bacon came in and was compelled to confess his offense to the house, bending on one knee, and ask pardon of God, the king, and the governor. He did this in the following words, recorded in Henning’s Statutes, 11.543:
“I, Nathanael Bacon Bacon Jr., Esq., of Henrico County, in Virginia, do hereby most readily, freely, and most humbly acknowledge that I am, and have been guilty of divers late unlawful, mutinous, and rebellious practices, contrary to my duty to his most sacred majesty’s governor, and this country, by beating up of drums; raising of men in arms’, marching with them into several parts of his most sacred majesty’s colony, not only without order and commission, but contrary to the express orders and commands of the Right Honorable Sir William Berkeley, Kn’t, his majesty’s most worthy governor and captain-general of Virginia. And I do further acknowledge that the said honorable governor hath been very favorable to me, by his several reiterated gracious offers of pardon, thereby to reclaim me from the persecution of those my unjust proceedings, (whose noble and generous mercy and clemency I can never sufficiently acknowledge), and for the re-settlement of this whole country in peace and quietness. And I do hereby, upon my knees, most humbly beg of Almighty God and of his Majesty’s said governor, that upon this my most hearty and unfeigned acknowledgement of my said mis-carriages and unwarrantable practices, he will please to grant me his gracious pardon and indemnity, humbly desiring also the honourable council of state, by whose goodness I am also much obliged, and the honorable burgesses of the present grand assembly to intercede, and mediate with his honor, to grant me such pardon. And I do hereby promise, upon the word and faith of a christian and a gentleman, that upon such pardon granted me as I shall ever acknowledge so great a favor, so I will always bear true faith and allegiance to his most sacred majesty, and demean myself dutifully, faithfully, and peaceably to the government and the laws of this country, and am most ready and willing to enter into bond of two thousand pounds sterling, and for security thereof bind my whole estate in Virginia to the country for my good and quiet behavior for one whole year from this date, and do promise and oblige myself to continue my said duty and allegiance at all times afterwards. In testimony of this, my free and hearty recognition, I have hereunto subscribed my name, this 9th. day of June, 1676.”NATH. BACON.”
The Council interceded thus:
“We, of his Majesty’s council of State of Virginia, do hereby desire according to Mr. Bacon’s request, the right honorable the governor, to grant the said Mr. Bacon his freedom.
|Phil Ludwell,||Hen. Chicheley,|
|James Bray,||Nathl. Bacon,|
|Wm. Cole,||Thos. Beale,|
|Ra. Wormeley,||Tho. Ballard,|
|“Dated the 9th. of June, 1676.”|
After the foregoing, Sir William repeated three times, the following words: “God forgive you, I forgive you.” Colonel Cole added, “And all that were with him.” “Yea,” responded the governor, “and all that were with him.” The governor, again starting up, spoke: “Mr. Bacon, if you will live civilly but ’till next quarter court, I’ll promise to restore you again to your place there,” waving towards Bacon’s former seat in the council. Bacon, however, was restored to his seat on that very Saturday.
Nathaniel Bacon, whose name is subscribed to the above intercession, and cousin of the rebel, wrote out the apology which he persuaded Bacon to recite before the council. If he would do this, the rebel was promised a commission allowing him to go against the Indians, on the following Monday. It was this cousin who also warned him in time to fly for his life, it is supposed.
THE “THOUGHTFUL MR. LAWRENCE”-BACON’s FLIGHT
There were two other men who were much help to Bacon in his troubles with Berkeley and the Indians-William Drummond, “a hard-headed and canny Scotchman,” for whom Lake Drummond in Dismal Swamp is named, was at one time governor of a Colony in North Carolina. He now lived in Jamestown. He and Lawrence owned the best houses in that place. Lawrence, who was apostrophized “the thoughtful” by “T. M.”, “kept an ordinary” at Jamestown. He had been a student at Oxford, and “for wit, learning and sobriety” this gentleman was “equalled by few.” It was at his house that Bacon stopped while in Jamestown. Very soon after Berkeley’s public demonstration of kindness to; Bacon, the latter discovered it to be only a cloak for the governor’s treacherous measures, which he intended carrying out as soon as he could do so with propriety. Bacon therefore, quietly slipped out of town. As soon as the news was known, the house of Lawrence was searched, but in vain.
BACON’S REVOLT WITH SIX HUNDRED MEN
The next Berkeley heard from Bacon, was news of his being at the head of the James, with six hundred men behind him, marching toward Jamestown. Within four days Bacon had his fusileers drawn up on the village green in front of the state house. Sir William Berkeley rushed out wildly, baring his breast and with drawn sword exclaimed: “Here, shoot me! Fore God, fair mark-shoot!” Bacon answered: “Sir, I came not, nor intend to hurt a hair of your honor’s head, and for your sword, your honor may please to put it up, it shall rust in the scabbard before ever I shall desire you to draw it. I come for a commission against the Heathen who daily inhumanely murder us and spill our breathern’s blood, and nor care is taken to prevent it.” Adding: “God damn my blood I came for a commission, and a commission I will have before I go.” “And turning to his soldiers said: `Make ready and present!’-which they all did.” During this outburst Bacon was walking up and down in front of his men, “his left arm akimbo” and violently gesticulating with his right-both he and the governor in a white heat of rage. Very soon the governor and council withdrew to his private apartment, followed by Bacon. It is said that Bacon had previously instructed his men, who now waited with arms presented at the assembly window, to fire on the assembly should he draw his sword while inside the house. Bacon argued his case for some time, frequently carrying his hand from his hat to his sword hilt. The fusileers now cocked their guns and shouted through- the window: “We will have it! We will have it!” Then a Burgess, waving his handkerchief, “You shall have it! You shall have it!” Whereupon the men uncocked their peices and resting them on the ground, awaited the return of their commander.
The long sought commission, making Nathanael Bacon, junior, general and commander-in-chief was granted, and duly signed by the governor and assembly. A memorial to the king was also drawn up, stating the condition of the Colony and Bacon’s valuable services in suppressing the incursions of the Indians. An act of indemnity was also passed on behalf of Bacon. The whole assembly now thought that Bacon had done the proper thing, and, as we look over the circumstances, no doubt he had pursued the right course; but Sir William Berkeley secretly thought very different. On the back of all this, after his full consent, ratified by council and assembly, he addressed a letter to his Majesty, saying: “I have above thirty years governed the most flourishing country the sun ever shown over, but am now encompassed with rebellion like waters in every respect like that of Massaniello, except their leader.” Massaniello, assassinated in 1647, was an Italian fisherman who rose up against the supreme power of Austria, owing to their unjust taxation, and with a party of men “armed with canes,” overthrew the viceroy and ruled until his assassination.
Nathanael Bacon, a brilliant commander and one who could strike hard blows against the enemy quickly, was now in quest of the savages, but he had hardly begun this work, when word reached him that Berkeley had issued a proclamation branding him “Traitor and Rebel.” This cruel injustice cut the young commander to the heart, “for to think that while he was hunting Indian wolves, tigers, and foxes, which daily destroyed our harmless sheep and lambs, that he and those with him should be pursued with a full cry, as a mere savage or a no less ravenous beast.” He quickly retraced his steps and encamped at Middle Plantation, the present site of Williamsburg. Civil warfare was scented in the air of the colony, and things began to take a very serious turn.
Meantime, Berkeley, having in vain tried to arouse the spirit of Gloucester (one of the most loyal and populous counties), fled across the Chesapeake Bay to Accomac. Bacon now issued his Manifesto:
“If virtue be a sin, if piety be guilt, all the principles of morality, goodness and justice be perverted, we must confess that those who are now called Rebels may be in danger of those high imputations. Those loud and several bulls would affright innocents, and render the defense of our brethren and the inquiry into our sad and heavy oppressions Treason. But if there be (as sure there is) a just God to appeal to, if religion and justice be a sanctuary here, if to plead the cause of the oppressed, if sincerely to aim at his majesty’s honor and the public good without any reservation or by interest, if to stand in the gap after so much blood of our dear brethren bought and sold, if after the lost of a great part of his Majesty’s colony deserted and dispeopled freely with our lives and estates, to endeavor to save the remainders, be treason-God Almighty judge and let guilty die. But since we cannot in our hearts find one single spot of rebellion or treason, or that we have in any manner aimed at subverting the settled government or attempting of the person of any either magistrate or private man, notwithstanding the several reproaches and threats of some who for sinister ends were disaffected to us and censured our innocent and honest designs, and since all people in all places where we have yet been can attest our civil, quiet, peaceable behavior, for different from that of rebellion and tumultous persons, let truth be bold and all the world know the real foundations of pretended guilt. We appeal to the country itself, what and of what nature their Oppressions have been, or by what cabal and mystery the designs of many of those whom we call great men have been transacted and carried on. But let us trace these men in authority and favour to whose hands the dispensation of the country’s wealth has been committed. Let us observe the sudden rise of their estates composed with the quality in which they first entered this country, or the reputation they have held here amongst wise and ,discriminating men. And let us see whether their extractions and education have not been vile, and by what pretence of learning and virtue they could so soon into employments of so great trust and consequence. Let us consider their sudden advancement and let us also consider wither any public work for our safety and defence, or for the advancement and propogation of Trade, Liberal Arts, or Sciences is here extant in any (way) adequate to our vast charge. Now let us compare these things together and see what sponges have sucked up the public treasure and whether it hath not been privately contrived away by unworthy favorites and juggling parosites, whose tottering fortunes have been repaired and supported at the public charge. Now if it be so judged what greater guilt can be there to offer to pry into these and to unriddle the misterious wiles of a power full cabal, let all people judge what can be of more dangerous import than to suspect the so long safe proceedings of some of our grandees and whether people may with safety open their eyes in so nice a concerne.”Another main article of our guilt is our open and manifest aversion of all, not only the foreign but the protected and Darling Indians, this we are informed is rebellion of a deep dye, for that both the governor and council are by Colonel Cooles assertion bound to defend the Queen and the Appomattocks with their blood. Now whereas we do declare and can prove that they have been for these many years enemies to the King and Country. Robbers and theives and Invaders of his Majesty’s right and our interest and estates; but yet have by persons in authority been defended and protected even against his Majesty’s loyall subjects, and that in so high a nature that even the complaints and oaths of his Majesty’s most loyall subjects in a lawfull manner proffered by them against those barberous outlaws, have been by ye right honorable governor rejected . . . “
Though this manifesto be written in the prose of a bygone century, we can readily see that its author was no ordinary man. No wonder that he should “despise the wisest of his neighbors for their ignorance.” In his arraignment of Berkeley he shows the difficulties as follows:
THE DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLE
“For having upon specious pretences of public works raised unjust taxes upon the commonality for the advancement of private favorites and other sinister ends, but no visible effects in any measure adequate.”For not having during the long time of his government in any measure advanced this hopeful colony either by fortifications, towns, or trade.
“For having abused and rendered contemptible the Majesty of justice, of advancing to places of judicature scandalous and ignorant favorites.
“For having wronged his Majesty’s prerogative and interest by assuming the monopoly of the Beaver Trade.
`For having in that unjust gain bartered and sold his Majesty’s Country and the lives of his loyal subjects to the Barbarous Heathen.
“For having with only the privacy of some few favorites with-out acquainting the people, only by the alteration of a figure forged a commission by we know not what hand, not only without but against the consent of the people, for raising and effecting of civil wars and distractions, which being happily and without bloodshed prevented.
“Of .these aforesaid articles we accuse Sir William Berkeley as guilty of each and every one of the same, and as one who hath traitoriously attempted, violated, and injured his Majesty’s interest here by the loss of a great part of his colony, and many of his faithful and loyal subjects by him betrayed, and in a barbarous and shameful manner exposed to the incursions and murders of the Heathen.
“(Signed) NATH. BACON, Gen’1. . “By the consent of ye people.”
The discussion over the manifesto at Middle Plantation lasted all day and far into the night. Four of the council and many other prominent men of the colony were present. They were willing to sign a part of the paper, but feared going the full length lest they suffer. But Bacon was no half way man, and insisted that they choose between himself and Berkeley-he pointed out also, that to sign a part of the paper would make them as guilty of treason as to sign the whole. He had as soon be hung for “slaying a sheep as a lamb.” In the meantime another Indian outrage so shocked those present that they all signed without further argument and the meeting stood adjourned.
A FORENOTE OF THE REVOLUTION OF 1776
Bacon now set out against the Indians, defeating them on every side-the largest encounter being that of the Appomattox Indians at the present location of Petersburg. His blows were so well directed, and success so phenomenal, that by early September every plantation in the colony was apparently safe from Indian molestation.
It is a very striking fact that the assembly providing ways and means for Bacon to suppress the Indians met in June, 1676, and that exactly one hundred years later to the month-June, 1776-resolutions were passed instructing the Virginia delegates in Congress to declare the colonies free and independent. Showing the trend of Bacon’s thought and the possibility of a revolution in 1676, it may be interesting to bring in here a conversation between Bacon and John Goode. Goode was one of our earliest frontiersmen in the colony, and well thought of by all. He sided strongly with Bacon until this conversation occurred in September, then, fearing Bacon’s rash measures, he underwent a change, and later communicated the conversation to Berkeley, which I give as a direct copy from Goode’s Virginia Cousins, 30 B , 30 D
JOHN GOODE’S LETTER AND BACON
Hon’d Sr.-In obedient submission to your honours command directed to me by Capt. William Bird I have written the full substance of a discourse Nath: Bacon, deceased, propos’d to me on or about the 2d day of September last, both in order and words as followeth:Bacon-There is a report Sir William Berkeley hath sent to the King for 2,000 Red Coates, and I doe believe it may be true, tell me your opinion, may not 500 Virginians beat them, wee having the same advantages against them the Indians have against us.
Goode–I rather conceive 500 Red Coats may either Subject or ruine Virginia.
B.-You talk strangely, are not we acquainted with the country, can lay ambussadoes, and take trees and putt them by, the use of their discipline, and are doubtless as good or better shott than they.
G.-But they can accomplish what I have sayd without hazard or coming into such disadvantages, by taking Opportunities of landing where there shall be noe opposition, firing out-houses and Fences, destroying our Stocks and preventing all trade and supplyes to the country.
B.-There may be such prevention that they shall not be able to make any great progresse in Mischeifes, and the country or Clime not agreeing with their constitutions, great mortality will happen amongst them in their Seasoning which will weare and weary them out.
G.-You see Sir that in a manner all the principall men in the Country dislike your manner of proceedings, they, you may be sure will joine with the red Coates.
B.-But there shall none of them bee (allowed).
G.-Sir, you speake as though you design’d a totall defection from Majestic, and our Native Country.
B.-Why (smiling) have not many Princes lost their dominions soe.
G.-They have been such people as have been able to subsist without their Prince. The poverty of Virginia is such, that the major part of the Inhabitants can scarce supply their wants from hand to mouth, and many there are besides can hardly shift, without Supply one year, and you may bee sure that this people which soe fondly follow you, when they come to feele the miserable wants of food and rayment, will bee in greater heate to leave you, then they were to come after you, besides here are many people in Virginia that receive considerable benefitts, comforts and advantages by Parents, Friends and Correspondents in England, and many which expect patrimonyes and Inheritances which they will by no means decline.
B.-For supply I know nothing: the country will be able to provide it selfe withall in a little time, save ammunition and Iron, and I believe the King of France or States of Holland would either of them entertaine a Trade with us.
G.-Sir, our King is a great Prince, and his Amity is infinitely more valuable to them, then any advantage they can reape by Virginia, they will not therefore provoke his displeasure by supporting his Rebells here; besides I conceive that your followers do not think themselves engaged against the King’s authority, but against the Indians.
B.-But I think otherwise, and am confident of it, that it is the mind of this Country, and of Mary Land and Carolina also, to cast off their Governor and the Governors of Carolina have taken no notice of the People, nor the People of them, a long time; and the people are resolv’d to own their Governor further: And if wee cannot prevaile by Armes to make our conditions for Peace, or obtaine the Priviledge to elect our own Governour, we may retire to Roanoke.
And here bee fell into a discourse of seating a Plantation in a great Island in the River, as a fitt place to retire to for Refuge.
G.-Sir, the prosecuting what you have discoursed will unavoidably produce utter ruine and distruction to the people and Countrey, & I dread the thoughts of putting my hand to the promoting a designe of such miserable consequence, therefore hope you will not expect from me.
B.-I am glad I know your mind, but this proceeds from mere Cowardlynesse.
G.-And I desire you should know my mind, for I desire to harbour noe such thoughts, which I should fear to impart to any man.
B.-Then what should a Gentleman engaged as I am, doe, you doe as good as tell me. I must flay or hang for it.
G.-I conceive a seasonable Submission to the Authority you have your Commission from, acknowledging such Errors and Excesse, as are yett past, there may bee hope of remission.
I perceived his cogitations were much on this discourse, bee nominated Carolina, for the watch word.
Three days after I asked his leave to goe home, hee sullenly answered, you may goe, and since that time, I thank God, I never saw or heard from him.
Here I most humbly begg your Honours pardon for my breaches and neglects of duty, and that Your Honour will favourably consider in this particular, I neither knew any man amongst us, that had any means by which I might give intelligence to your honour hereof, and the necessity thereof, I say by your honors, prudence, foresight and Industry may bee prevented. So praying God to bless and prosper all your Councells and Actions I conclude.
Your Honours dutifull servant, JOHN GOODE. January ye 30th., 1676.
BACON’S NAVAL MANOEUVERS-ARREST OF GILES BLAND
Having done with the Indians and issued a proclamation commanding all the men in the Colony to join his forces and retire into the wilderness should any English troops arrive, until a reconciliation could be made-Bacon now dispatched Giles Bland (the son of the London merchant and nephew of Theodorick Bland) with four armed vessels to arrest Berkeley in Accomack. Upon seeing the sloops sail in, Sir William Berkeley was thrown into despair, but rallied his wits, and through the help of Colonel Philip Ludwell, aided by treachery, succeeded in capturing Bland with his entire fleet. Bland was immediately put in irons and very badly treated. One of his party, Captain Carver, was hanged on the shore of Accomack. Berkeley now enlisted many longshoremen and indentured servants, promising them the lands of the rebels as a reward. In this way he got together about 1,000 men and started joyously for Jamestown, which place he had little trouble entering and taking charge, since Bacon and his men were then near West Point (Virginia).
On hearing this news, the rebels at once set out for Jamestown and encamped at Green Spring-the comfortable home of his adversary, Berkeley. Bacon now began erecting palisades and thus entrenching himself. Here he did a very singular thing-sending out a party of horse he captured the wives of many of the leading loyalists, and fearing an untimely attack of Berkeley, he dispatched a courier to him stating that his intention was to place these wives in front of his works should a sally be made before the palisades were completed. Among these ladies may be named: Colonel Bacon’s lady (wife of the rebel’s cousin), Madame Ballard, Madame Bray, and Madame Page. We cannot understand why Bacon should have done this most unchivalrous act, although we know that he would sooner have been defeated than allowed harm befall them. We must admit it was a clever strategem, though unheard of before, and it had its desired effect, ‘for “it seems that those works, which were protected by such charms (when a raiseing) that play’d up the enimys shot in there gains, could not now be stormed by a virtue less powerfull (when completed) then the sight of a few white aprons . . . ” Berkeley later complained against the plunder of his plantation: “His dwelling-house at Green Spring was almost ruined; his household goods, and others of great value, totally plundered; that he had not a bed to lie on; two great beasts; three hundred sheep, seventy horses and mares, all his corn and provisions taken away.” Berkeley probably greatly exaggerated this; though it is probable also that the Baconites did consume a quantity of his excellency’s food and wine.
THE SPEECH AT GREEN SPRING
The young commander now having everything in readiness to greet the governor, addressed his men as follows:
“Gentlemen and Fellow Soldiers, how am I transported with gladness to find you thus unanimous, bold and daring, brave and gallant. You have the victory before the fight, the conquest before the battleYour hardiness will invite all the country along as we march to come in and second you . . . The ignoring of their actions cannot but so much re flect upon their spirit, as they will have no courage left to fight you. I know you have the prayers and well wishes of all the people in Virginia, while the others are loaded with their curses. Come on, my hearts of gold; he that dies in the field lies in the bed of honour!”
THE FLIGHT OF BACON
Notwithstanding the fact that Bacon; on hearing of the governor’s return from Accomack, had marched his men between 30 and 40 miles one day and worked hard all night on breastworks-his men often with little food and lying in damp trenches; he was now ready to sound defiance to the old governor. Berkeley’s motly crew of spoilsmen, “rogues and royalists,” “intent only on the plunder of forfeited estates promised them by his honor,” now began to desert “his honor” in great numbers. Out of 600, scarcely 20 remained to oppose Bacon. A slight skirmish ensued, which resulted in the complete rout of Berkeley’s party. They retreated before Bacon’s men, leaving their dead and dying on the field. Berkeley evacuated Jamestown and fled again to Accomac. In describing the first attack on Jamestown, before entrenching himself at Green Spring, Bacon writes to his friends-Captain William Cookson and Captain Edward Skewan-as follows:
“From Camp at Sandy Beach “S’ber the 17th, 1676.
“Before wee drew up to James Towne a party of theirs fled before us with all hast for ffeare: with a small party of horse (being dark in the Evening) we rode up to the Point at Sandy Beach, and sounded a Defiance which they answered, after which with some difficulty for want of materialls wee entrenched ourselves for that night, our men with a great deal of Bravery ran up to their works and ffir’d Briskly and retreated without any losse.
“They shew themselves such Pitifull cowards, contemptable as you would admire them. It is said that Hubert Farrell is shot in the Belly, Hartwell in the Legg, Smith in the head, Mathews with others, yet as yet wee have noe certaine account. They tooke a solemne oath when they Sallyed out either to Rout us, or never Returne: But you know how they use to keepe them: . . “
“Your reall Friend, “NATH: BACON.”
THE BURNING OF JAMESTOWN
After the fight at Jamestown, the Baconites pushed on into the town (a distance of about three miles), which they found deserted. They found a little Indian-corn, some horses, two or three cellars of wine, “and many tanned Hides.” That the “rogues should harbor there” no longer, the capital town was burned to ashes. Drummond and Lawrence first set fire to their nice houses, and the other soldiers, following the example, laid the place in ashes. The first brick church in the colony was also burned. Berkeley and his party beheld this sight from their vessels about twenty miles down the river.
Bacon next marched to the York River (crossing at Gloucester Point) and made his way up into Gloucester County. It was his idea to encounter Colonel Brent, who was said to be marching against him with a force of twelve hundred men. Brent’s men, on hearing of the success of Bacon, deserted him, leaving him with a mere handful. Bacon now made his headquarters at Colonel Warner’s, called a convention, and administered the oath to the Gloucester people. (The oath drawn up at Green Spring, guaranteeing support against Berkeley).
BACON’S DEATH AT DR. PATE’S
He now- made his way to another part of the county, stirring up the inhabitants in his behalf at the Court House and other places as he went. Passing the present site of Wood X Roads, Bacon next encamped at Pate’s Plantation (now known as Bacon’s Fort). “This Prosperous Rebell, concluding now the day his owne, . . . intending to visit all the northern part of Virginia to understand the state of them and to settle affairs after his own measures . . . But before he could arrive to the Perfection of his designs (wch none but the Eye of Omniscience could Penetrate) Providence did that which noe other hand durst) or at least did) doe and cut him off . . . He dyed much dissatisfied in minde inquiring ever and anon after the arrival of the Friggats & Forces from England, and asking if his Guards were strong about the house.” (Commissioner’s Report-Winder Papers, Virginia State Library.)
Enduring the many hardships and privations of camp life, and under a tremendous mental strain, this “Washington of his day” finally surrendered to the Agent of Death, October 1, 16?6. The cause of his death is not known, though various surmises have been made; but we believe it was due to malarial fever, probably contracted in the swamps and trenches in the low country around Jamestown. Some contend that he met death through poison from the hands of the tyrannical governor; but we are inclined to think that it was the poison of the swamps.
To manifest thy spleen, but thus to slay
Our hopes of safety; liberty, our all
Which, through thy tyranny, with him must fall
To its late cross? . . . “
(Bacon’s epitaph by his man.)
BACON’S LOST BURIAL PLACE
Prior to this time, we believe, every writer of Bacon’s Rebellion has confessed his ignorance as to Bacon’s burial place, and we confess it very difficult to determine at this late date. Berkeley had offered a reward for his body, dead or alive, and for that reason great secrecy was maintained. Two traditions have been current; one that his body was entombed in the York River-the other that he was hidden in the woods and stones piled on the body. The first tradition we believe to be Incorrect, from the simple fact that to carry the body a distance of several miles to the York River would have meant discovery, besides the difficulty of such an undertaking, which demanded immediate action. The chances are that the body was not carried more than a mile or two from Pate’s house, since his followers were very anxious to quit the melancholy spot and escape the wrath of Berkeley. It is probable, then, that the body of Bacon was buried in the neighboring woods and then stones piled on the spot to avoid any chance of discovery.
A short while ago the writer of this paper visited the old site of Bacon’s fort and endeavored to explore the surrounding country, hoping to find something of interest regarding the rebel. A part of the original house is still standing, though remodeled. All that remains of the old fort is a slight elevation, which on close inspection reveals a few scattered bricks. The various owners of the place have tried, in vain, to plow down the ridge and thus make it tenable for vegetation: Now and then an old arrow head or some other relic of Indian days is discovered. After visiting Bacon’s fort, the writer was conducted by Mr. Frederick Henry Wolfe to a spot a mile and a half distant on his plantation (probably, originally a part of Bacon’s fort), and shown a very remarkable construction. There were eight large ironstone rocks, four on each side, resembling a tomb. There were no other rocks anywhere near this spot, and the unnatural construction in this field, which in the days of Bacon must have been a wilderness, led Mr. Wolfe and also the writer to believe that under these weights rested the dust of General Nathanael Bacon, Junior. There are good reasons for this idea and it is the ardent wish of the writer that this site be excavated, hoping to find something to better substantiate the evidence that it is Bacon’s grave. ‘ It is probable, though, that after two hundred and thirty-three years, we would find little of hidden interest.
THE END OR THE REBELLION-EXECUTIONS
It is quite beyond us to surmise what the results would have been, had not the untimely hand of death intervened. The “meteoric career” of General Bacon lasted but “twenty weeks.” It is very clear that no ordinary young man could have accomplished as much as did the melancholy Bacon. With his death also occured the death of the Rebellion.
A few of his Captains dodged about for a short space of time, but soon sent in their submissions to the governor. Berkeley’s revengeful and tyrannical disposition now predominated. Captain Hansford was captured; he asked that he might be “shot like a soldier and not hanged like a dog”; but this favor was denied him. Hansford has been called the “First Native Martyr to American Liberty.” Captain Edward Cheesman was brought before Berkeley, who asked: “Why did you engage in Bacon’ designs?” Cheesman’s wife answered: “It was my provocations that made my husband join the cause; but for me he had never done what he has done.” She then fell upon her knees before the governor and implored mercy for her husband, asking that she might pay the penalty. Berkeley returned an insulting reply which made all present shudder at his outrageous conduct.
The wasting of human lives went on. Some of the leaders could not be found. “T. M.” tells us that when Lawrence was last heard of, the “thoughtful” man and four others were seen, with pistols and horses, in snow ankle deep making their way to a fairer clime. The old Scotchman – Mr. Drummond-was found in White Oak Swamp, and taken to the governor, who greeted him with the “ironical sarcasm of a low bend.” “Mr. Drummond, you are very welcome. I would rather see you just now, than any other man in the Colony. Mr. Drummond, you shall be hanged in half an hour.” “What your honor pleases, ” said Drummond.
The bloodthirsty Berkeley would have continued the executions, had not the commissioners from England arrived in January, 1677, to whom we are indebted for a good and impartial account of the rebellion. News of Berkeley’s measures at length reached the throne; “as I live,” said the the King,” the old fool has put to death more people in that naked country than I did here for the murder of my father.” In April, the governor was removed from office, and returned to England, where he died in July, before he had an opportunity to kiss the King’s hand.
From “Forces Tracts,” we offer a list, in part, of those hung by Berkeley. The list is made out and signed by Sir William, but we do not think that it includes all who met death at his hands.
“1.-One Johnson, a stirer up of the people to sedition but no fighter.
“2.-One ‘Barlow, one of Cromwell’s soldiers, very active in this rebellion, and taken with forty men coming to surprise me at Accomack.
“3.-One Carver, a valiant man, and stout seaman, taken miraculously, who came with Bland, with equall com’n and 200 men to take me and some other gentlemen that assisted me, with the help of 200 soldiers; miraculously delivered into my hand.
“4.-One Wilford, an interpreter, that frighted the Queen of Pamunkey from ye lands she had granted her by the Assembly, a month after peace was concluded with her.
“5.-One Hartford, a valiant stout man, and a most resolved rebel.
“All these at Accomack.”
“At York whilst I lay there.”
“1-One Young, a commissionated by Genl_ Monck long before he declared for ye King.
“2.-One Page. a carpenter, formerly my servant, but for his violence used against the Royal Party, made a Colonel.
“3.-One Harris, that shot to death a valiant loyalist prisoner.
“4-One Hall, a clerk of a county but more useful to the rebels than 40 army men-that dyed very penitent confessing his rebellion against his King and his ingratitude to me.
“5.-One Drummond, a Scotchman that we all suppose was the originall cause of the whole rebellion, with a common French-man, that had been very bloody.”
“Condemned at my house, and executed when Bacon lay before Jamestown.
“1 –One Coll’l Crewe, Bacon’s parosythe, that continually went about ye country, extolling all Bacon’s actions, and (justifying) his rebellion.
“2 -One Cookson, taken in Rebellion.
“3 -One Darby, from a servant made a Captain.
Sir William Berkeley of London was educated at Merton College, Oxford, and in 1629 received the degree of Master of Arts. He made a tour of Europe in 1630; was governor of Virginia from 1639 to 1651, and 1659 to 1677-thirty years-a term equalled by no other governor of the Colony. The year that he came to Virginia-1639-he published a play, “The Lost Lady.” He published also, in 1663, “A Discourse and View of Virginia.” He was buried at Twickerham. Sir William had no children, and bequeathed his property to his widow. He married the widow of Samuel Stephens, Warwick County, Virginia. She, after Berkeley’s death, married Colonel Philip Ludwell.
BACON’S REBELLION IN LITERATURE
Mrs. Afra Behn published a play on Bacon’s Rebellion in 1690. It was called “The Widow Ranter, or the History of Bacon in Virginia,” and was honored by Dryden with a prologue. Campbell (the historian) says: “It sets historical truth at defiance, and is replete with coarse humor and indelicate wit. It is probable that Sarah Drummond may have been intended by `The Widow Ranter.’ It appears that one or two expressions in the Declaration of Independence occur in this old play.”
With the patriot, Bacon, began the undying spirit of American Independence, which blossomed into the Revolution of 1776, and the fragrance of which still lives in the hearts of all Americans.
In compiling the above paper, I wish to acknowledge the use of the following references:
Virginia Historical Magazine
William and Mary College Quarterly
Beverley’s History of Virginia
Goode’s “Virginia Cousins”
Virginia Historical Register
“T. M.’s” Account in Force’s Tracts, Campbell’s History of Virginia, and John Fiske’s “Old Virginia and Her Neighbors.” These last three have been freely used.