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Argall, Sir Samuel (1580–24 January 1626), English explorer and colonial leader in early Virginia, was baptized at East Sutton, Kent, England, on 4 December 1580, the son of Richard Argall, a gentry landowner, and Mary Scott, daughter of a wealthy knight. As the eighth son and twelfth child of a prominent family, Argall neither had the luxury of living as a landed gentleman, nor the necessity of forging a career without influential kin connections in Kent and London....

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Ashmun, Jehudi (21 April 1794–25 August 1828), colonial agent and missionary in West Africa, was born in Champlain, New York, the son of Samuel Ashmun, a justice of the peace, and Parthenia (maiden name unknown). An intensely devout Christian from the age of sixteen, Ashmun studied theology and classics at Vermont’s Middlebury College and the University of Vermont in Burlington. Following his graduation from the latter in 1816, he was appointed principal and instructor at the Maine Charity School, a Congregationalist college in Hampden, Maine. In 1818 he married Catherine Gray; it is not known if they had any children....

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Ayllón, Lucas Vázquez de (1480?–18 October 1526), Spanish judge and founder of the first Spanish colony in North America, was born at Toledo, Spain, the son of Juan Vázquez de Ayllón, a member of a distinguished Mozarabic family, and Inés de Villalobos. Lucas was educated in the law, earning the ...

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Barnwell, John (1671– June 1724), frontier settler and Indian fighter, was the son of Alderman Matthew Barnwell of Dublin, Ireland, and Margaret Carberry. The elder Barnwell was killed in the siege of Derry in 1690 as a captain in James II’s Irish army, which attempted to restore the last Stuart king after the revolution of 1688. The family seat, Archerstown in County Meath, was forfeited as a result of this support of James II against William and Mary....

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Barradall, Edward (1704–19 June 1743), attorney general of Virginia, was born in England, the son of Henry Barradall and Catherine Blumfield, members of the English gentry. He was called to the bar at the Inner Temple. Sometime before 1730 he emigrated to Virginia and transferred his law practice to the General Court in Williamsburg. He was very successful; one of his clients was ...

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Blathwayt, William (1649?–16 August 1717), imperial bureaucrat, was born in London, England, the son of William Blathwayt, a lawyer of the Middle Temple, and Anne Povey, daughter of the auditor of the exchequer Justinian Povey. His father died, broken and bankrupt by the civil wars, when William was less than two years old. He was raised by his uncle Thomas Povey, a connoisseur of Dutch decorative art and colonial administrator under Cromwell and Charles II, who sent him to the Middle Temple, 1665–1668. In 1668 Povey arranged Blathwayt’s clerkship with Sir William Temple, ambassador at The Hague and champion of an alliance of the Protestant maritime states, England and the Netherlands, against Catholic France. Blathwayt not only absorbed the ambassador’s ideals, he also impressed that influential statesman with his energy (it was said that in any office where Blathwayt worked no one else had anything to do). Blathwayt gained recognition for his method of filing and indexing correspondence (his first official letter was from ...

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Bollan, William (1710?–1782), colonial agent and lawyer, was born in England and emigrated from there to America while a teenager. He pursued a legal career by studying as an apprentice under the tutelage of Massachusetts attorney Robert Auchmuty. Little is known of Bollan’s early life and career. However, by 1733 he had begun to gain prominence as an attorney, as evidenced by his acquisition of Harvard College and Boston’s Anglican parish, King’s Chapel, as clients. Bollan was an Anglican, which placed him in a religious minority in Congregational-dominated Boston. By the mid-1730s he had begun to venture into land speculation in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island....

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Bridger, Jonathan (fl. 1696–1722), colonial official, also recorded as John Bridger, was of obscure origin. He worked early in his career as a shipwright for the Royal Navy at the naval dockyard in Portsmouth, England, and later served as a navy ship’s purser on a voyage to the northern American colonies, probably in the early 1690s....

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Byrd, William (1652–04 December 1704), Virginia colonial officer and planter, was born in London, England, the son of John Bird, a goldsmith, and Grace Stegge. Because his father was a member of a powerful labor guild, Byrd (who later changed the spelling of his name, probably because it sounded more “elegant”) grew up aspiring to a comfortable but lower-middle-class position in caste-bound London. However, when he was eighteen he received a letter from his uncle, Thomas Stegge, a plantation owner in Virginia, asking Byrd to join him and become his heir. Accepting the opportunity to secure position and wealth as a landed gentleman in the new world, Byrd sailed to Virginia in the autumn of 1670 and joined his kinsman on his plantation of 1,800 acres near the fall line of the James River. A year later Stegge died, and Byrd inherited his entire estate. In that same year Byrd accompanied a party that crossed the Blue Ridge Mountains and explored the western wilderness. Quickly, the young man proved himself an able husbandman, caring for his tobacco plantations and improving the Indian trade that his uncle had begun. Soon he was recognized throughout the colony as a rising man of property and influence. In fact, he was typical of that group of Virginia leaders that arrived in the colony in the last half of the seventeenth century and established powerful families that would dominate Virginia in the next century. Needing a wife with experience in managing slaves and handling the domestic duties of a plantation, he married Mary Horsmanden, a well-connected widow, in 1673. They had five children before her death in 1699....

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Calvert, Cecilius (08 August 1605–30 November 1675), second Lord Baltimore and founder and first proprietor of Maryland, was born probably in Kent County, England, the son of Sir George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore, and Anne Mynne. Little is known of Cecilius’s childhood. Named Cecil for Sir Robert Cecil, the most powerful man in the government of James I, he was baptized in the Church of England on 2 March 1606. As his father steadily advanced in government service to membership on the Privy Council and a position as one of the principal secretaries of state, the family conformed to the Church of England. Calvert attended Trinity College (Oxford) but did not take a degree. When he made the decision to live openly as a Roman Catholic remains problematic. He may have decided in advance of his father, who resolved his religious commitment in November 1624. Earlier that year Calvert traveled to the Continent, and while his pass contained the usual prohibition against visiting Rome, there is reason to suspect that he did. Certainly by 1625 young Calvert openly worshiped as a Catholic. In so doing, he identified with an outlawed, but never socially ostracized, minority within the English community. He took the name Cecilius when confirmed into the Catholic faith....