Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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GATES, Sir Thomas, governor of Virginia, lived in the 17th century. The second charter of Virginia, which bears the date of 23 May, 1609, intrusted the colonization of that land to a numerous body of adventurers. Among those, who were to execute Raleigh's design, were Robert Cecil, earl of Salisbury, Sir Francis Bacon, Captain John Smith, Sir Oliver Cromwell, uncle to the protector, and others, besides a number of public companies of London, which represented the nobility, army, bar, and industry of England. This new charter transferred to the company the power that had before been reserved for the king and contained a command that allegiance and obedience should be rendered to such governors as should be appointed by the council in England. The officers were Sir Thomas West, Lord De la Warr, captain-general of Virginia; Sir Thomas Gates, lieutenant-general ; Sir George Somers, admiral: Captain Newport, vice-admiral: Sir Thomas Dale, high-marshal; and Sir Ferdinand Wainman, general of horse. Colonization had taken such hold of the public mind that large sums of money were freely contributed, and so many persons desired to be transported that nine ships, with more than five hundred emigrants, were despatched in charge of Captain Newport, Sir George Somers, and Sir Thomas Gates. They sailed from England in May, 1609, but only seven ships arrived in Virginia. The ship of the three commissioners, the "Sea Venture," was separated from the rest of the fleet by a hurricane, and stranded on the rocks of Bermuda, and a small ketch also perished. Sir Thomas Gates and his passengers remained nine months in Bermuda, where they constructed two vessels, partly from the wreck of the "Sea Venture" and partly from cedars, which they felled. On reaching Virginia, on 24 May, 1610, they found the colony in a state of misery and desolation; for, after the departure of Smith, the old and new colonists, no longer controlled by a recognized authority, had abandoned themselves to indolence and vice. Famine had reduced their numbers to sixty, and only four pinnaces remained in the river. The settlers desired to burn the town, but were prevented by Gates, who resolved to sail for Newfoundland with the remaining colonists, in order to seek a passage for England. As they descended the River, they met Lord De la Warr, bringing colonists and supplies, 9 June, 1610, and returned with him to Jamestown. The council were eager for some immediate profit, and, in order to give them a full account of the state of affairs, Lord De la Warr sent Sir Thomas Gates to England. Becoming discouraged by his report, many of the organization withdrew their aid, and the return of Lord De la Warr confirmed their suspicions. Sir Thomas Gates succeeded, however, in collecting new recruits, and in August, 1611, arrived in Virginia with six ships, three hundred men, one hundred cattle, and all manner of provisions. He assumed the office of governor, and endeavored to make religion the foundation of law and order. During his rule, new settlements were made in Henrico (1611), and the third patent for Virginia was signed (March, 1612), which granted to the share-holders in England the Bermudas and all islands within three hundred leagues of the Virginia shore. This acquisition was subsequently transferred to a separate company. Sir Thomas Gates returned to England in 1614, and endeavored to revive and strengthen the fallen hopes of the London company of share-holders. Sir Thomas Dale succeeded him as governor of Virginia. It is supposed that the wreck of the "Sea Venture" furnished Shakespeare the groundwork for his comedy of "The Tempest."
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