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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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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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Folger, Peter (1617–1690), translator and government official, was born in Norwich, England, the son of John Folger and Meriba Gibbs. Around 1635 Peter Folger immigrated to Massachusetts with his widower father. During the voyage to America on board the vessel Abigail, he met and fell in love with Mary Morrill, an indentured maidservant. Living at first in Dedham and Watertown, Folger worked as an artisan for nine years (he was variously skilled as a weaver, miller, surveyor, and shoemaker) to raise the sum of twenty pounds necessary to buy Morrill’s freedom from ...

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Lyman, Phineas (1715–10 September 1774), provincial general and colonizer, was born in Durham, Connecticut, the son of Noah Lyman, a weaver, and Elizabeth (maiden name unknown). Lyman’s exact birthdate is unknown; he was baptized 6 Mar. 1715. After abandoning weaving, his father’s craft, Lyman studied to enter Yale, graduated in 1738, and stayed on as a tutor and part-time law student until 1742. In that year he married Eleanor Dwight; they had five sons and two daughters. Lyman moved to Suffield, Connecticut, where he practiced law, held a militia commission, and became prominent in provincial politics. In 1747 he was appointed to initiate the ultimately successful process to obtain recognition that Suffield was in Connecticut, rather than Massachusetts, a province with an equally, and perhaps more, plausible claim to the town. Lyman served briefly as a deputy, one of two elected by the freemen of Suffield to the General Court of Connecticut. In 1752 he was chosen for its upper house. As one of the most active of the twelve assistants elected annually, until 1758 he negotiated with other colonies and the London government about Connecticut’s wartime roles. Military duties began to divert him in 1755. War with France interrupted another of Lyman’s interests, his close involvement in the schemes for westward settlement of the Susquehannah Company....

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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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Oñate, Juan de (1551–03 June 1626), frontiersman and colonial administrator, was born in Nueva Galicia, Mexico, the son of Cristóbal de Oñate, a provincial governor, and Doña Cathalina de Salazar. Cristóbal de Oñate is noted for discovering and developing the silver mines at Zacatecas, Mexico. Little is known of Juan’s childhood except that he followed his father’s lead, discovering the rich mines at Zichú, Charcas, and San Luis Potosí and became renowned on the northern frontier of New Spain for fighting the Chichimecas. In August 1595 he was confirmed as guarda mayor de la Casa de la Moneda de Potosí. He married and had two children with Isabel Tolosa, a descendent of both Cortés and Montezuma....

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Saint-Denis, Louis Juchereau de (17 September 1676–11 June 1744), French colonial explorer and commandant, was born at Quebec, New France, the son of Nicolas Juchereau de Saint-Denis and Marie-Thérèse Giffard. Saint-Denis’s early life is veiled in obscurity. He accompanied his cousin Pierre Le Moyne...

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Sandys, George (02 March 1578–04 March 1644), writer and official of colonial Virginia, was born at Bishopthorp near York, England, the son of Edwin Sandys, the archbishop of York, and his second wife, Cicely Wil(s)ford. Sandys entered Oxford University as a gentleman-commoner at the age of eleven in 1589, then at eighteen went to the Middle Temple, London. He remained at the Inns of Court only a year or two. Before the age of twenty-one, he married Elizabeth Norton of Ripon. The exact date of the family-arranged marriage is unknown, but it had ended, although it was never formally dissolved, by 1606. The couple had no children....