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Anza, Juan Bautista de (07 July 1736–19 December 1788), military commander, explorer, and governor, was born in the presidio of Fronteras, Sonora, Mexico, the son of Juan Bautista de Anza, commandant of the post since 1719, and María Rafaela Becerra Nieto; his grandfather was commandant of Janos presidio, Chihuahua. Anza’s father was killed in combat in 1739, but Anza continued in the family tradition, and on 1 December 1752 entered the militia at Fronteras. On 1 July 1755 he was promoted to lieutenant at Fronteras, and, after participating in Indian campaigns in Sonora, he rose in 1760 to the rank of captain and commander of the presidio at Tubac (in present-day Arizona). On 24 June 1761 he married Ana María Pérez Serrano of Arizpe, Sonora, but no children were born of the union....

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Berkeley, Sir William (03 July 1606–09 July 1677), royal governor and captain general of Virginia, was born in or near London, the son of Sir Maurice Berkeley, a well-connected gentleman of distinguished family. He was the brother of John, first Baron Berkeley of Stratton, a colonial proprietary. He entered Queen’s College, Oxford, in February 1623 and received his B.A. in July 1624 from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. Five years later, he completed his M.A. at Merton College, Oxford. A charming, intelligent, well-connected gentleman, Berkeley became a favorite of King Charles I and was created a member of the Privy Chamber. In 1632 he was appointed a Commissioner of Canadian affairs and executed the office with distinction. He authored a number of notable plays, among them ...

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Buade, Louis de (22 May 1622–28 November 1698), French soldier and courtier, was born at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the son of Henri de Buade and Anne Phélypeaux de Pontchartrain, aristocrats. On his father’s side he was descended from the old nobility of the sword and on his mother’s from the ascending nobility of the robe. His father, comte de Frontenac, baron (later comte) de Palluau, and colonel of the Régiment de Navarre, was highly regarded by Louis XIII, who stood as godfather to the infant Louis at his baptism....

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Gage, Thomas (1719 or 1720–02 April 1787), soldier and the last royal governor of Massachusetts, was born in Firle, Sussex, England, the son of Thomas Gage, first Viscount Gage of the Irish peerage, who had for political reasons abandoned his family’s traditional Roman Catholicism and joined the Church of England, and Benedicta or Beata Maria Theresa Hall, an heiress who gained notoriety for her alleged promiscuity. The year of Gage’s birth traditionally has been given as 1721, but the fact that he entered school in 1728 suggests that he was actually born in 1719 or early 1720. Gage spent much of his early childhood at his mother’s family seat in Gloucestershire. During his eight years at the Westminster school (1728–1736), Gage associated with a number of youths who would later achieve military and political prominence....

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Gayoso de Lemos, Manuel (30 May 1747–18 July 1799), Spanish army officer, governor of the Natchez district, and governor general of Louisiana, was born in Oporto, Portugal, the son of Manuel Luis Gayoso de Lemos y Sarmiento, a Spanish consul general, and Theresa Angelica Amorín y Magallanes. Educated in England, he developed a capacity for languages and diplomacy. He entered the army’s Lisbon Infantry Regiment as a cadet in 1771 and began a slow rise in rank....

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Hunter, Robert ( October 1666–31 March 1734), British army officer and royal governor of Virginia, New York and New Jersey, and Jamaica, was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of James Hunter, an attorney, and Margaret Spalding. Lacking land or inherited wealth, Robert Hunter chose a military career. In the November 1688 Glorious Revolution, Hunter formed part of the dragoon bodyguard that escorted Princess Anne from London as she fled her father, James II. An ardent Whig, Hunter continued to serve William III in Cardross’s Dragoon Regiment, Colonel John Hill’s Regiment, the Royal Scots Dragoons, and Colonel Charles Ross’s Irish Dragoons. In the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–1713) Hunter was aide-de-camp to commander in chief John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, a close relationship that brought Hunter into contact with the most influential men in Great Britain. Under Marlborough, Hunter rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel, saw active duty at the battles of Blenheim and Ramillies in 1704 and 1706, and was instrumental in securing the 1706 surrender of the city of Antwerp....

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Johnstone, George (1730–24 May 1787), naval officer and first governor of British West Florida, was born in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, the son of Sir James Johnstone, Laird of Westerhall, and Barbara Murray. After entering the Royal Navy in 1743, Johnstone fought in King George’s War before his promotion to lieutenant in 1749. Johnstone was undoubtedly brave but also, wrote a superior, “incapable of subordination.” He faced two courts-martial and fought at least one duel during the French and Indian War....

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Lane, Sir Ralph (1528– October 1603), soldier and colonial governor, was the son of Sir Ralph Lane of Orlingbury, Northamptonshire, England, and Maud Parr, daughter of William, Lord Parr of Horton. Lane’s place of birth is unknown. Lane was educated at the Middle Temple in 1554 and was elected to Parliament in 1558 and 1563. He went to court in 1563 and, as a client of the earl of Leicester, was an equerry to Queen Elizabeth by 1568. He served in the force sent to quell the northern rebels in 1569....

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Bienville. Engraving by John Chester Buttre. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-100821).

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Le Moyne, Jean-Baptiste (baptized 23 Feb. 1680–07 March 1767), French soldier, explorer, and governor of colonial Louisiana, was born in Montréal, New France, the son of Charles Le Moyne, sieur de Longueuil et de Châteauguay, a provincial nobleman, and Catherine Thierry Primot. Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne inherited the title ...