The end of the administration of the Virginia Company and the taking over of affairs by the King, James L, dates from his proclamation of July 13, 1624, seventeen years after the settlement at Jamestown. For some years there had been a constant dispute between the King and the Company. The liberal charters obtained by Edwin Sandys and his associates, combined with the independence shown by the Company, and the liberty loving settlers, had been the source of a great deal of opposition on the part of the King, who implicitly believes); in the royal prerogative to dictate his twill to all subjects wherever they might dwell. This was aggravated to a great extent by the secret machinations of Gondomar and the Spanish King.
Edwin Sandys,<a href="#1" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 1
Pronounced Sands, the y being silent. It was sometimes spelled Sandes."> the Treasurer and head of the Company, after the overthrow of Sir Thomas Slnith,-though a member of the Church of England, and son of Edwin Sandys, the Bishop of York, was one of the most liberal-minded men of his age. In company with George Cranmer, a grandnephew of Archbishop Cranmer, he had traveled in Europe for six years( 1583-1589) spending most of that time at Geneva, where he had studied the Calvinistic doctrines, and become seasoned with Genevan principle, which were antagonistic to all monarchial principles of government. It is said of hint that "lie was ardently in favor of the emancipation of the SANDY'S S CONVICTIONS
human mind in matters of religion and religious liberty, and was at heart opposed to the government of a monarchy, and favored civil liberty." Sandys is also quoted as declaring that "He thought that if God from heaven did constitute and direct a frame of government on earth, it was that of Geneva."
It can be readily seen why a man with his convictions should attempt to establish a free government in Virginia, and how he gathered around him, men of the same opinions, such as Southampton, Farrar, Cavendish and others, who were among the most advanced thinkers of that clay.
The administration of Sir Thomas Smith had not only proved a failure, but a large amount of the money subscribed by stockholders in the company had been lost without proper accounting on the part of Smith and his assistants, and it was to save the company- from bankruptcy and failure. in colonization that Edwin Sandys, patriotically agreed to accept the administration of affairs. Had it not been for the intrigues of Gondomar. Warwick, Argall and other members of the company, under the influence of the last two mentioned, it is doubtful if even the King could have succeeded in his determination to annul the charter; for he seized upon these charges as just cause for sending a commission to Virginia to investigate the affairs of the company. These men, being in his employ, naturally returned a report to his liking.
John Farrar, the deputy treasurer, writes that "The King was at the bottom of this whole proceeding which from beginning to end was a despotic violation of honor and of justice; which proved him to be a roan void of every laudable principle of action. a man in all his exertions made himself the scorn of those who were not in his power and the detestation of those who were; a man whose head was indeed encircled with the regal diadem, but never, surely, was head more unworthy or unfit to wear it." To which Peckard has added in a note: "He became the public jest and object of ridicule to all the States of Europe."<a href="#2" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 2
Brown's First Republic in America, pp. 602-603.">
When sides were taken in controversy in the company, prior to the dissolution, the Warwick faction could only summon twenty-six adherents; whereas, the Sandys faction had over 1,000 supporters within the membership alone. The company did not surrender its rights without protest. The best legal minds of England were employed to fight before the courts and an appeal was even made to Parliament, which, unfortunately, was nearly ready to adjourn, though favorable to the claim of the Sandys faction. Many of the Parliament members were associated with Sandys and Southampton in the protest.
The massacre of 1622, charges of mismanagement and the determination of Warwick and Argall to use every- endeavor to prevent the company's investigation of their connection with the piratical cruises of the Treasurer, all proved of great assistance to the King in justifying his course. Warwick and Argall probably saved their necks from the headman's axe when the company was dissolved, as proceedings against them were never taken by the King. It is very- fortunate that Nicholas Farrar, anticipating the dissolution of the company, had' a copy of all of the court books and records of the company carefully transcribed. These were afterwards at tested, upon oath, as true copies, and presented to the Karl of Southampton.<a href="#3" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 3
It is said that Farrar spent £00 from his private purse for the purpose above mentioned. Two of these books, with some pages missing, are now in print and available for inspection by our historians. The two volumes contain about 43,000 words, and it is very much hoped that the pages missing may be found, thus giving a complete record of the proceedings of one of the moat remarkable undertakings of the seventeenth century.">
The members of the company had expended over £100,000 out of their own private fortunes. The King's jealously of their freedom of discussion, their liberal administration, their refusal to elect officers nominated by him, the determination of the Virginia settlers to sell their tobacco where they willed, regardless of his express command as to its disposition, had proved their undoing. The colony henceforth was to be administered according to his royal will, regardless of any- protest the colonists might make.
It was during the administration of Governor Wyatt that the first suit for breach of promise was instituted and the first duel fought.
Captain Samuel Jordan, of Jordan's journey, died in 1623, and it is recorded that only three or four days after his death, Rev. Grivell Pooley began making overtures, looking towards consummating marriage with the widow, Mrs. "Sysley Jordan." He persuaded Captain Isaac Madison to accompany him to the home of the widow to assist him in broaching the subject. Rejected, he paid a second visit and reported to Madison that she had contracted herself. Madison was induced to accompany him the second time to witness the widow's pledge.
Madison, in reporting what took place, states that, on being received at the house, the Rev. Pooley asked for a dram and the widow ordered a servant to fetch it, but Pooley declared he would not accept it unless it be prepared and "fetched" by her fair hand. When she agreed to this, Madison and Pooley followed her into the room. It is to be presumed that both gallant gentlemen failed not to drink the fair Sysley's health, and it was then, it is reported, Pooley took hold of the widow's hand and repeated these words: "I, Grivell Pooley, take thee, Sysley, to my wedded wife, to have and to hold till death us do part, and, thereto, I plight thee my troth." Still holding her hand, he continued the form of words as if she were speaking: "I Sysley, take thee, Grivell, to my wedded husband, to have and to hold till death us do part."
Madison says that she did not repeat the words, but that they drank to each other and Pooley kissed her, exclaiming-: "I am throe and thou art mine, until death us separate." It seems that the young- widow then insisted that Pooley and Madison keep secret what had transpired, else gossip would snake light of her accepting such attention so soon after her husband's death, and Pooley asserted that "Before God he would not reveal it till she thought the time fitting-." The secret was too much for the infatuated swain and he informed his friends of his good fortune, whereupon the incensed Sysley contracted herself to William Ferrar ( Farrer), a brother of the John and Nicholas Farrer, previously mentioned as prominently- connected with the Virginia Company.
On June 14, 1623, Pooley instituted against the widow the first breach of promise suit in English America.<a href="#4" class="toolTip" title="Footnote: 4
It is to be noted that the first suit was a man against a woman."> The case was argued before a court consisting of Governor Wyatt, Sir George Yeardley, George Sandy-s, Ralph Hamor, John Pounds and Roger Smith, sitting as a "Council of State." The trial was continued over to the November term. At this hearing, "The Council in Virginia (not knowing how to decide so nice a difference, our devines not taking upon them pressily to determine whether it be a formal and legal contract), referred the case to the Company in England, "desiring the resolution of the Civil Lawyers thereon and a speedy return thereof.
As a precaution against future occurrences, the court decreed that it was contrary to the ecclesiastical laws of the realm of England for a, woman to contract herself to (two) several men at the same time, "whereby much trouble loth grow between parties, and the Governor and Council of State much disquieted. To prevent the like offense to others, it is by the Governor and Council, ordered in Court that every- minister give notice in his church, to his parishioners, that what man or woman soever shall use any words or speech, tending to the contract of marriage, though not right or legal, yet may so entangle and breed struggle in their consciences, shall for the third offense undergo either corporal punishment, or the punishment by fine, or otherwise, according- to the guilt of the persons so offending."
The reader will note that punishment was placed for the "third offence," not first and second, therefore, it is to be presumed, the fair Sysley, not having been charged with more than "two offenses," was permitted to marry the man of her choice and lived happily ever afterwards.
The duel mentioned in the first paragraph was fought in the early spring of 1624. The principals were George Harrison, of Martin's Brandon, and Richard Stephens, a merchant, of Jamestown. 'Mr. Harrison had taken offense at Stephens' handling of an invoice of goods shipped from England by his brother, John Harrison. Words and blows passed, followed by Harrison's challenge. The latter had been in ill health and left a sickbed to meet his antagonist on the field of honor. Harrison was wounded in the leg and died two weeks later. Stephens was exonerated from being the cause of his death as "The Doctor and Chirurgeons did open his bodie upon the juries request. * * * * * They did affirm that he could not have lived long and that he died not of the hurt which he received. For it was but a small cut between the garter and his knee."
One hundred and seven children are known to have been born in the colony between 1609 and 1625. and the following settlers were still living in Virginia:
Of those sent under the royal charter in 1606-1608: Nathaniel Causey, John Dods, Davis Ellis, Captain Thomas Graves, Anne Laydon, John Laydon, Captain John 'Martin (the only member of the original council then living in Virginia), Thomas Savage, Richard Taylor, Captain Francis Vest and probably a few others. Raleigh Crashaw was living in 1624, and he was probably still living, but absent; Ensign William Silence is recorded as "lost" in 1623, but he may have been living in captivity.
Of those sent under the company charters in 1609-1615: William Askew, Robert Aston, Henry and Thomas Bagwell, William Bailer, Hugh Baldwin, Michael Batt, Lieutenant Edward Berkley, Theophilus Beriston, Richard Briggs, Walter Blake, John Blow (Blower, etc.), Richard Bolton, Reynold Booth, Thomas Bouldin, Thomas Cage, William Capps, Thomasine Causey, John Carter, Joan Chandler, Isaac Chaplin, Francis and Thomas Chapman, Josiah Chard, John Clay, Phetiplace Close, Joseph Cobb, Susan Collins, Henry Coltman, Joan Croker, John Bowneman, Elizabeth Dunthorne, John Ellison, Robert Fisher, Joan and Pharao Flinton, John Flood, Thomas Garnet, Thomas Godby, George Grave, Robert Greenleafe, Edward Grindon, John Gundrie, John Hall, Ralph Hamor, Thomas Harris, John Hatton, Hugh Haward (Harwood or Howard), Gabriel and Rebecca Holland, Oliver Jenkins, John Johnson, Elizabeth Jones, Cicely Jordan, Win. Julian, Richard Kingsmill, Thomas Lane, John Lightfoot, Robert Lince (Lynch?), Albiano Lupo, Francis Mason, William Morgan, Alexander Mountney, Robert Paramour, Robert Partin, William Perry, Joan and William Pierce, Robert Poole, Jr., John Powell, John and William Price, Miles Prickett, John Proctor, James Robeson, Christopher and Robert Salford, Walter Scott, Samuel and William Sharpe, James Sleigh, Joan and John Smith, William Spencer, Thomas Stepney, John Stone, Thomas Sully, John Taylor, Captain Willian Tucker, Henry Turner, John and Susan Vigo, William Vincent, Edward Waters, Thomas Watts, Amyte Wayne, Michael Wilcocks, Henry Williams, Thomas Willoughby, Sir George and Lady Temperance Yeardley and others. All of the above were entitled to land under the great charter of November 28, 1618. The reader can note how familiar most of these names are in Virginia of today.
Governor Sir Francis Wyatt did not remain in Virginia but a short time after James I. assumed control and reappointed him as Governor. He had come to Virginia from Ireland, where his family were owners of large estates. Receiving a message from his old home that his father, Sir George Wyatt, had died, he found it necessary to return to Ireland to settle the estate, and left for home, via England, on May 17, 1626. James I. had died March 27, 1625, and Charles I, his oldest surviving son, had succeeded him.
Readers of these papers will recall that Henry, Prince of Wales, an enthusiastic patron of the young colony, died shortly after the founding of the town of Henricopolis. Charles, therefore, was next in line of succession. The colonist named one of the points at the entrance of the Chesapeake in his honor (Cape Charles); a fort near Point Comfort and a great stretch of territory had also received his name. Unfortunately, Charles was not interested in Virginia, other than a possible source of revenue for his royal purse. He confirmed all of the promulgations of his father and added other restictions even more binding and galling to a people who had tasted of the blessings of self-government.
Charles appointed Sir George Yeardley in Wyatt's stead, but did not change the order of James abolishing the General Assembly. This was the second time Yeardley had been placed at the head of the government, his first service having been from 1619 to 1621.
Yeardley, apparently, was a friend of the colony, and would have proven a foil to many of the evils suffered under the administration of the notorious Harvey, who succeeded him in 1630, had he lived. He died November 13, 1627, and was buried at Jamestown. A marble slab, within the walls of the church is supposed to cover his last resting place. The inscription on the stone was engraved upon metal. The metal has been stolen.
During the interval between Yeardley's death and the arrival of Harvey, the council appointed, first, Captain Francis West, as deputy-Governor; second, Dr. John Pott, as Nest sailed for England March 5, 1629.