Gates, Sir Thomas, fl. 1585-1621, English colonial governor of Virginia. He was knighted for his services under the 2d earl of Essex in the successful expedition against Cádiz in 1596. Gates, who had been a lieutenant in the expedition (1585-86) under Sir Francis Drake that removed Sir Walter Raleigh's first colony from Roanoke Island, was the first named of the grantees in the original charter (1606) of the London Company, which founded Virginia. In 1609 he commanded, as deputy governor, the "third supply" to the colony, a fleet of nine ships with over 500 colonists. Two of the ships, including Gates's, the Sea Venture, were wrecked in the Bermudas (the story of this wreck apparently inspired William Shakespeare's Tempest). The survivors supported themselves for 10 months in the Bermudas before they completed two pinnaces in which they finally reached Jamestown in May, 1610. Arriving to find that only about one tenth of the colonists had survived the rigorous winter, Gates resolved to abandon the colony. As he was departing for England in June, however, he was met by the governor, Lord De la Warr, heading a new relief. At De la Warr's orders the settlers turned back to Jamestown. That autumn Gates returned to England, and in Sept., 1611, he reappeared at Jamestown with a new expedition containing 300 persons (including his wife and daughters) and many cattle and swine. Since De la Warr had returned to England in March, Gates now served as governor until Mar., 1614, when he also went back to England. He planned further expeditions to Virginia, but they never materialized. He is thought to have died in the East Indies in 1621

Percy, George

Percy, George, 1580–1631?, English colonial official in Virginia. He sailed to Virginia with the expedition of 1606–7 and was deputy governor (1609–10) after John Smith's return to England and, later, in the absence (1611) of Sir Thomas Gates. In 1612, Percy himself returned to England. He wrote A True Virginia Relation of … (c.1622) in self-defense after another writer (presumably John Smith) had criticized Percy's leadership in the “starving time.” He also wrote a Discourse of the Plantation of … Virginia.

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Early life

George Percy was born in England, the youngest son of Henry Percy, 2nd/8th Earl of Northumberland and Lady Catherine Neville. He was sickly for much of his life, possibly suffering from epilepsy or severe asthma. He graduated from Oxford University in 1597. While at university, he gained admission to Gloucester Hall and the Middle Temple.

Percy's vocation was the military. His first service came in the Dutch struggle for independence from Spain in the early 1600s. He also served in Ireland.

Life in Virginia

Percy was part of the first group of 105 English colonists to settle the Jamestown Colony. He departed England in December 1606 and kept a journal of his voyage. He arrived in Virginia in April 1607 and recorded the struggles of the colonists to cope with the American environment, disease, and the Powhatan Indians. "Thus we lived for the space of five months in this miserable distress," he wrote in his journal, "not having five able men to man our bulwarks upon any occasion."[1]

Although Percy had a higher social rank than all of the other first colonists, he was initially denied a seat on the Virginia Council. Nevertheless he took the lead in the early life of the colony, taking part in the expedition to the James River falls in May and June 1607. In autumn 1607, he sided with the President of the colony, Edward Maria Wingfield, who was subsequently deposed by John Ratcliffe, Gabriel Archer, and John Smith. From late 1607 until autumn 1609, Percy had little power in Jamestown but served as Smith's subordinate.

When Smith left the colony in September 1609, Percy assumed the presidency of the colony. However, his persistent illness kept him from executing his office, leaving the duties of the presidency to Ratcliffe, Archer, and John Martin. It was during Percy's tenure that the colony suffered through the "Starving Time" in the winter of 1609-10. "Now all of us at James Town beginning to feel that sharp prick of hunger, which no man truly describe but he which hath tasted the bitterness thereof," he recounted later.[2] Percy accomplished little while President, other than to order to construction of Fort Algernon at Old Point Comfort. When Sir Thomas Gates arrived in May 1610, Percy happily surrendered control of the colony to him.

In June 1610, Thomas West, 3rd Baron De La Warr arrived in Jamestown and with a commission to serve as the colony's governor. De la Warr appointed Percy to the council and named him captain of the Jamestown fort. In August 1610, De la Warre sent Percy and seventy men to attack the Paspahegh and Chickahominy Indians. The force ravaged the Indians' settlements, burning their buildings, decimating their crops, and indiscriminately killing men, women, and children. Percy also led the successful defence of the Jamestown fort against an Indian attack and earned the praise of De La Warr. When the Governor returned to England in March 1611, he appointed Percy to lead the colony in his absence. "But the winds not favoring them, they were enforced to shape their course directly for England--my lord having left and appointed me deputy governor in his absence, to execute martial law or any other power and authority as absolute as himself."[3] Percy's term as Governor lasted until April 22, 1612, when he departed for England.

After Virginia

After his service in the New World, Percy returned to England but remained interested in colonization schemes. In 1615, he proposed an expedition to Guiana but found no supporters. In 1620, he sold his four shares in the Virginia Company and returned to military service. Percy returned to the Netherlands in 1621 when war between Spain and the Dutch resumed. He was the commander of a company in the Low Countries in 1627. It is uncertain whether he died in England or in the service abroad.

Percy apparently never married and fathered no children. It is uncertain what his relation was to Anne Floyd (1593-1618)[4] who bore Lady Anne Percy in 1608.

Ancestry[show]Ancestors of George Percy
Sir Henry Percy, 4th Earl of Northumberland
Henry Percy, 5th Earl of Northumberland
Lady Maud Herbert
Sir Thomas Percy
Sir Robert Spencer of Spencer Coombe or Spencercombe or Spencer Court
Catherine Spencer
Eleanor or Alianore Beaufort
Henry Percy, 2nd/8th Earl of Northumberland
Ralph Harbottle of Beamish
Guiscard or Wychard (or Guicciard or Richard) Harbottle of Beamish
Margaret Percy
Eleanor Harbottle
Sir Henry Willoughby of Wollaton
Jane (or Joan) Willoughby
Margaret Markham
George Percy
Richard Nevill, 2nd Baron Latymer
John Nevill, 3rd Baron Latymer
Anne Stafford
John Nevill, 4th Baron Latymer
Sir George de Vere
Dorothy de Vere
Margaret Stafford
Lady Katherine or Catherine Nevill
Sir Charles Somerset, 1st Earl of Worcester
Henry Somerset, 2nd Earl of Worcester
Elizabeth Herbert, 3rd Baroness Herbert
Lucy Somerset
Sir Ambrose or Anthony Browne
Elizabeth Browne
Lucy Neville
  1. ↑ George Percy, "Observations gathered out of a discourse of the plantation of the southern colony in Virginia by the English, 1606," in Jamestown Narratives: Eyewitness accounts of the Virginia Colony, The First Decade, 1607-1617, ed. Edward Wright Haile (Champlain, Va.: Roundhouse, 1998), 100.
  2. ↑ George Percy, "A True Relation of the proceedings and occurrents of moment which have hap'ned in Virginia from the time Sir Thomas Gates was shipwrack'd upon the Bermudes, anno 1609, until my departure out of the country, which was in anno Domini 1612" in Jamestown Narratives, 505.
  3. ↑ Percy, "True Relation," 513.
  4. ↑ Brenan, Gerald (1902). A History of the House of Percy, from the Earliest Times Down to the Present. London: Freemantle. Vol. II pp. 208–9. Note: This source documents marriage to Anne Floyd, but not date of marriage.