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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....

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Gálvez, Bernardo de (23 July 1746–30 November 1786), colonial governor of Spanish Louisiana and viceroy of New Spain, was born in Macharaviaya, Spain, the son of Matías de Gálvez, a prominent court official, and Josefa Gallardo Madrid. After distinguished service as a lieutenant in the Spanish campaigns against the Portuguese in 1762, which won him promotion to the rank of captain, Gálvez traveled to Mexico in 1765 with his uncle, José de Gálvez, visitor general of New Spain. In that posting he engaged in a series of campaigns against the Apaches along the Rio Grande (1769–1770) and became commander of Nueva Vizcaya and Sonora in northwestern Mexico. Returning to Spain in 1775 he joined the invasion of Algiers and after being wounded and promoted to lieutenant colonel served briefly in the military academy at Avila....

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Habersham, James ( June 1715?–28 August 1775), planter-merchant in colonial Georgia, royal councilor, and acting governor, was born in Beverly, Yorkshire, England, the son of James Habersham, a dyer and innkeeper, and Elizabeth Sission. His mother died when he was seven; subsequently his father apprenticed him to his uncle, Joseph Habersham, a London merchant. From him he mastered the import trade in hides, indigo, and sugar. By the age of twenty-one he had assumed charge of two sugar-refining houses connected with his uncle’s interests. In 1736 Habersham came under the religious influence of ...

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Ludwell, Philip (1638–1723), governor of the Carolinas and colonial Virginia official, was the son of Thomas Ludwell and Jane Cottington of Bruton Parish, Somersetshire, England. By 1660 Philip and his brother Thomas were living in Virginia, where Thomas was a member of the Council. The governor, ...

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Menéndez de Avilés, Pedro (15 February 1519–17 September 1574), captain general of the armada of the Indies and adelantado of Florida, was born in northern Spain, in the Asturian seaport of Avilés, the son of Juan Alfonso Sánchez and María Alonso de Arango. A descendant of minor hidalgos, he was connected by blood and marriage to several noble families, but as one of the youngest of twenty children, he could count on little else. Raised by relatives after his father died and his mother remarried, Pedro married a distant cousin, María de Solís, with whom he would have four children; invested his patrimony in a small, rapid sailing vessel; and became an unlicensed privateer....

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Minuit, Peter (1589?–1638), director general of New Netherland and governor of New Sweden, was born in Wesel, duchy of Cleves, the son of Jean Minuit and Sarah Breil. His parents were Walloons, French-speaking members of the Reformed church, but they lived in an area with a large Dutch-speaking population. Peter undoubtedly knew both languages. He spelled his name Minuit, French for “midnight,” rather than the Dutch spelling Minnewit. His surviving letters, however, are in Dutch. In 1613 he married Gerdruudt Raets in Wesel. Her father was burgomaster of Kleve. Minuit moved to Utrecht and was living there in 1615 while learning diamond cutting. He apparently later returned to Wesel, where he served as a ruling elder of the Walloon church. In May 1624 the city records noted that Minuit was about to undertake a long voyage. His wife returned to Kleve in 1625....

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Sothel, Seth (?–1694), proprietor and governor of Carolina, was born in England, but no details of his parentage or youth are known. By 1675 he possessed enough social status and wealth to be recommended to the proprietors of Carolina as a potential governor of their colony. At that time Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury, wrote to the governor of Carolina on behalf of Sothel, “a person of considerable estate in England,” asking the governor to “Pray treat this gentleman as my friend.” Sothel negotiated from the proprietors a manor in southern Carolina of 12,000 acres and made preparations to migrate to the colony. Before Sothel embarked he purchased in 1677 the earl of Clarendon’s proprietary share in Carolina....

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Vaughan, George (13 April 1676–20 November 1724), merchant and lieutenant governor of New Hampshire, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the son of Major William Vaughan, a Portsmouth merchant, and Margaret Cutt. George grew up in colonial New Hampshire’s most chaotic historical era, when Portsmouth’s frontier settlers were beset with almost constant wars with the French and Indians, proprietary challenges to their land titles, rapid changes in government, and often arbitrary royal officials. As a youth, Vaughan saw his father become wealthy in the timber and fish trades, become embroiled in the proprietary claims of Robert Mason, be both jailed for and the subject of a major land suit ( ...