© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.


William Berkeley in Jamestown

William Berkeley (1606-1677) was the governor of Virginia from 1642 to 1652 and again from 1660 to 1677. Born in England, educated at Oxford, and knighted by Charles I in 1639, he was Virginia's most enduring and influential governor of the seventeenth century.

Troubled by Virginia's one-dimensional economic structure, he tried as governor to diversify Virginia's economy by imposing limits on tobacco production and paying bounties for alternative crops and industries. He brutally suppressed the Indian uprisings of 1644, but afterward tried to set aside Indian lands on the colony's frontier as a reservation and buffer. In 1676, he faced an uprising of primarily smaller farmers from the interior, led by Nathaniel Bacon, who were dissatisfied with his supposedly too-conciliatory Indian policy. While forced by Bacon's army to temporarily flee from Jamestown, he regained control over the government after Bacon's death in October 1676. He subsequently pursued a harsh policy of punishment for the rebellion's leaders, and under pressure from the king, resigned his office in April 1677. He died shortly after returning to England later that year.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...