Colonel William Claiborne, I

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Colonel William Claiborne, I

Also Known As: "William Cleybourne", "William Clayborne"
Birthplace: Crayford Parish, Kent, England, (Present UK)
Death: circa March 1677 (68-84)
Romancoke Plantation, near White House, King William County, Virginia Colony, (Present USA)
Place of Burial: near White House, King William County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Thomas Claiborne and Sarah Claiborne, widow James
Husband of Elizabeth Claiborne
Father of Leonard Claiborne; Mary 'Elizabeth' Harris; Lt. Colonel William Claiborne, II; Jane Brereton; John Claiborne and 1 other
Brother of Katherine Claiborne; Blanche Claiborne; Thomas Clayborne and Sara Clayborne
Half brother of Roger James, III; Sarah James; John James and Margaret Bysshe

Occupation: Sec. of Virgnina Colony, Va surveyor Gen, 1621-25, Va Gov. council, 1623-77, )(Va Sec of State, 1625-35, 1652-60, )( Va Treasurer, 1642-60)( Appointed by Parliament, 1652 ) (Acting Gov. Of Maryland, 1652-60), First Secretary of Va. Colony
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Colonel William Claiborne, I

William Claiborne

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Secretary of State for the Virginia Colony In office 1626–1634 Parliamentary Commissioner and Secretary of the Virginia Colony In office 1648–1660

Personal details

Born c. 1600 Crayford, Kent (England) Died c. 1677 West Point, Virginia

William Claiborne (c. 1600 – c. 1677)[1] (also spelled William Clayborne) was an English pioneer, surveyor, and an early settler in Virginia and Maryland. Claiborne became a wealthy planter, a trader, and a major figure in the politics of the colony. He was a central figure in the disputes between the colonists of Maryland and of Virginia, partly because of his trading post on Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, which provoked the first naval battles in North American waters. Claiborne repeatedly attempted and failed to regain Kent Island, sometimes by force of arms, after its inclusion in the lands that were granted by a royal charter to the Calvert family, thus becoming Maryland.

A Puritan, Claiborne sided with Parliament during the English Civil War and was appointed to a commission charged with subduing and managing the Virginia and Maryland colonies. He played a role in the submission of Virginia to Parliamentary rule in this period. Following the restoration of the English monarchy in 1660, he retired from involvement in the politics of the Virginia colony. He died around 1677 at his plantation, Romancoke, on Virginia's Pamunkey River. According to historian Robert Brenner, "William Claiborne may have been the most consistently influential politician in Virginia throughout the whole of the pre-Restoration period".[2]

Early life and emigration to America

Claiborne was born in Kent, England in 1600 to Thomas Clayborn, an alderman and lord mayor from King's Lynn, Norfolk who made his living as a small-scale businessman involved in a variety of industries, including the salt and fish trades, and Sarah Smith, the daughter of a London brewer.[3] The family name was spelled alternately as Clayborn, Clayborne, or Claiborne. William Claiborne, who was baptized on 10 August 1600, was the youngest of two sons.[4] The family's business was not profitable enough to make it rich, and so Claiborne's older brother was apprenticed in London, becoming a merchant involved in hosiery and, eventually, the tobacco trade.[3]

However, Claiborne was offered a position as a land surveyor in the new colony of Virginia, and arrived at Jamestown in 1621. The position carried a 200 acre (80 hectare) land grant, a salary of £30 per year, and the promise of fees paid by settlers who needed to have their land grants surveyed. His political acumen quickly made him one of the most successful Virginia colonists, and within four years of his arrival he had secured grants for 1,100 acres (445 hectares) of land and a retroactive salary of £60 a year from the Virginia colony's council. He also managed to survive the March 1622 attacks by native Powhatans on the Virginia settlers that killed more than 300 colonists. His financial success was followed by political success, and he gained appointment as Councilor in 1624 and Secretary of State for the colony in 1626. Around 1627 he began to trade for furs with the native Susquehannock on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay and two of its largest tributaries, the Potomac and Susquehanna Rivers. To facilitate this trade, Claiborne wanted to establish a trading post on Kent Island in the Chesapeake Bay, which he intended to make the center of a vast mercantile empire along the Atlantic Coast.[3] Claiborne found both financial and political support for the Kent Island venture from London merchants Maurice Thomson, William Cloberry, John de la Barre, and Simon Turgis.[5]

Kent Island and the first dispute with Maryland

In 1629, George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore arrived in Virginia, having traveled south from Avalon, his failed colony on Newfoundland. Calvert was not welcomed by the Virginians, both because his Catholicism offended them as Protestants, and because it was no secret that Calvert desired a charter for a portion of the land that the Virginians considered their own.[6] After a brief stay, Calvert returned to England to press for just such a charter, and Claiborne, in his capacity as Secretary of State, was sent to England to argue the Virginians' case.[7] This happened to be to Claiborne's private advantage, as he was also trying to complete the arrangements for the trading post on Kent Island.

Calvert, a former high official in the government of King James I, asked the Privy Council for permission to build a colony, to be called Carolina, on land south of the Virginia settlements in modern-day North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Claiborne arrived soon afterwards and expressed the concerns of Virginia that its territorial integrity was being threatened. He was joined in his protests by a group of London merchants who planned to build a sugar colony in the same area.[8] Claiborne, still intent on his own project, received a royal trading commission through one of his London supporters in 1631, one which granted him the right to trade with the natives on all lands in the mid-Atlantic where there was not already a patent in effect.[9]

Claiborne sailed for Kent Island on 28 May 1631 with indentured servants recruited in London and money for his trading post, likely believing Calvert's hopes defeated.[10] He was able to gain the support of the Virginia Council for his project and, as a reward for London merchant Maurice Thomson's financial support, helped Thomson and two associates get a contract from Virginia guaranteeing a monopoly on tobacco.[11] Claiborne's Kent Island settlers established a small plantation on the island and appointed a clergyman.[12] While the settlement on Kent Island was progressing, the Privy Council had proposed to George Calvert that he be granted a charter for lands north of the Virginia colony, in order to create pressure on the Dutch settlements along the Delaware and Hudson Rivers. Calvert accepted, though he died before the charter could be formally signed by the king and the new colony of Maryland was instead granted to his son, Cæcilius Calvert, on 20 June 1632.[13] This turn of events was unfortunate for Claiborne, since the Maryland charter included all lands on either side of the Chesapeake Bay north of the mouth of the Potomac River, a region which included Claiborne's proposed trading post on Kent Island. The Virginia Assembly, still in support of Claiborne and now including representatives of the Kent Island settlers, issued a series of proclamations and protests both before and after the granting of the Maryland charter, claiming the lands for Virginia and protesting the charter's legality.[14]

Claiborne's first appeal to royal authority in the dispute, which complained both that the lands in the Maryland charter were not really unsettled, as the charter claimed, and that the charter gave so much power to Calvert that it undermined the rights of the settlers, was rejected by the Lords of Foreign Plantations in July 1633.[15] The following year, the main body of Calvert's settlers arrived in the Chesapeake and established a permanent settlement on Yaocomico lands at St. Mary's City.[16] With the support of the Virginia establishment, Claiborne made clear to Calvert that his allegiance was to Virginia and royal authority, and not to the proprietary authority in Maryland.[17] Some historical reports claim that Claiborne tried to incite the natives against the Maryland colonists by telling them that the settlers at St. Mary's were actually Spanish, and enemies of the English, although this claim has never been proven.[18] In 1635, a Maryland commissioner named Thomas Cornwallis swept the Chesapeake for illegal traders and captured one of Claiborne's pinnaces in the Pocomoke Sound. Claiborne tried to recover it by force, but was defeated; although he retained his settlement on Kent Island. These were the first naval battles in North American waters, on 23 April and 10 May 1635; three Virginians were killed.[19]

During these events, Governor John Harvey of Virginia, who had never been well liked by the Virginian colonists, had followed royal orders to support the Maryland settlement and, just before the naval battles in the Chesapeake, removed Claiborne from office as Secretary of State.[20] In response, Claiborne's supporters in the Virginia Assembly expelled Harvey from the colony.[21] Two years later, an attorney for Cloberry and Company, who were concerned that the revenues they were receiving from fur trading had not recouped their original investment, arrived on Kent Island. The attorney took possession of the island and bade Claiborne return to England, where Cloberry and Company filed suit against him. The attorney then invited Maryland to take over the island by force, which it did in December 1637. By March 1638 the Maryland Assembly had declared that all of Claiborne's property within the colony now belonged to the proprietor.[22] Maryland temporarily won the legal battle for Kent Island as well when Claiborne's final appeal was rejected by the Privy Council in April 1638.[23] [edit]Parliamentary Commissioner and the second dispute with Maryland

In May 1638, fresh from his defeat over Kent Island, Claiborne received a commission from the Providence Land Company, who were advised by his old friend Maurice Thomson, to create a new colony on Ruatan Island off the coast of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea. At the time, Honduras itself was a part of Spain's Kingdom of Guatemala, and Spanish settlements dominated the mainland of Central America. Claiborne optimistically called his new colony Rich Island, but Spanish power in the area was too strong and the colony was destroyed in 1642.[24]

Soon after, the chaos of the English Civil War gave Claiborne another opportunity to reclaim Kent Island. The Calverts, who had received such constant support from the King, in turn supported the monarchy during the early stages of the parliamentary crisis. Claiborne found a new ally in Richard Ingle, a pro-Parliament Puritan merchant whose ships had been seized by the Catholic authorities in Maryland in response to a royal decree against Parliament. Claiborne and Ingle saw an opportunity for revenge using the Parliamentary dispute as political cover, and in 1644 Claiborne seized Kent Island while Ingle took over St. Mary's.[25] Both used religion as a tool to gain popular support, arguing that the Catholic Calverts could not be trusted. By 1646, however, Governor Leonard Calvert had retaken both St. Mary's and Kent Island with support from Governor Berkeley of Virginia, and, after Leonard Calvert died in 1648, Cæcilius Calvert appointed a pro-Parliament Protestant to take over as governor.[26] The rebellion and its religious overtones was one of the factors that led to passage of the landmark Maryland Toleration Act of 1649, which declared religious tolerance for Catholics and Protestants in Maryland.[27]

In 1648 a group of merchants in London applied to Parliament for revocation of the Maryland charter from the Calverts.[28] This was rejected, but Claiborne received a final opportunity to reclaim Kent Island when he was appointed by the Puritan-controlled Parliament to a commission which was charged with suppressing Anglican disquiet in Virginia; Virginia in this case defined as "all the plantations in the Bay of the Chesapeake."[29]

Claiborne and fellow commissioner Richard Bennett secured the peaceful submission of Virginia to Parliamentary rule, and the new Virginia Assembly appointed Claiborne as Secretary of the colony.[30] It also proposed to Parliament new acts which would give Virginia more autonomy from England, which would benefit Claiborne as he pressed his claims on Kent Island. He and Bennett then turned their attention to Maryland and, arguing again that the Catholic Calverts could not be trusted and that the charter gave the Calverts too much power, demanded that the colony submit to the Commonwealth.[30] Governor Stone briefly refused but gave in to Claiborne and the Commission, and submitted Maryland to Parliamentary rule.[31]

Claiborne made no overt legal attempts to re-assert control over Kent Island during the commission's rule of Maryland, although a treaty concluded during that time with the Susquehannocks claimed that Claiborne owned both Kent and Palmer Islands.[32] Claiborne's legal designs on Maryland were once again defeated when Oliver Cromwell returned Calvert to power in 1653, after the Rump Parliament ended.[33] In 1654, Governor Stone of Maryland tried to reclaim authority for the proprietor and declared that Claiborne's property and his life could be taken at the Governor's pleasure.[34] Stone's declaration was ignored and Claiborne and Bennett again overthrew him, creating a new assembly in which Catholics were not allowed to serve.[35] Calvert, now angry at Stone for what he perceived as weakness, demanded that Stone do something, and in 1655 Stone reclaimed control in St. Mary's and led a group of soldiers to Providence (modern Annapolis). Stone was captured and his force defeated by local Puritan settlers, who took control of the colony.[36] Given the new situation, Claiborne and Bennett went to England in hopes of convincing Cromwell to change his mind but, to their dismay, no decision was made and, lacking royal authority, the Puritans gave power over to a new governor appointed by Calvert.[37] Going behind Claiborne's back, Bennett and another commissioner reached an agreement with Calvert that virtually guaranteed his continued control over Maryland through the remainder of the Protectorate.[38]

With no authority left in Maryland, Claiborne turned to his political offices in Virginia. However, he was a Puritan and an ally of Parliament during the English Civil War, and upon the restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, he had few friends left in government. Claiborne therefore retired from political affairs in 1660 and spent the remainder of his life managing his 5,000 acre (2,023 hectare) estate, "Romancoke", near West Point on the Pamunkey River, dying there in about 1677.[39]

Family life and descendants

In the midst of the political turmoil of the conflict over Kent Island, Claiborne married Elizabeth Butler of Essex, who would remain his wife at least through 1668.[4] Claiborne was also the forebear of a number of lines of American Claibornes, and among his descendants are William C. C. Claiborne, first governor of Louisiana, fashion designer Liz Claiborne,[40], Daniel Sullivan (LtCol USMC), and a number of political figures from Tennessee and Virginia.[41] Descendants of the Claiborne family have formed a society to advance the genealogical study of Claiborne's lineage.[42]


  1. ^ A number of different sources dispute Claiborne's date of birth and which family he descended from in England, though Brenner, which is the most recent authoritative historical text, cites 1600 as the date of birth and the Norfolk / Kent Clayborns as his ancestry. Dates and other biographical information in this article are drawn from Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography 1887–89.
  2. ^ Brenner, p. 120
  3. ^ a b c Brenner, p. 121
  4. ^ a b Richardson, p. 95
  5. ^ Brenner, pp. 122–124
  6. ^ Browne, p. 27 and Fiske, pp. 263–264
  7. ^ Browne, p. 28 and Krugler, p. 107
  8. ^ Fiske, p. 265
  9. ^ Brenner, p. 124
  10. ^ Brenner, p. 124 and Hatfield, p. 186
  11. ^ Brenner, p. 131
  12. ^ Fiske, p. 271
  13. ^ Brenner, p. 141
  14. ^ Brenner, pp. 141–142
  15. ^ Browne, pp. 43–44
  16. ^ Fiske, pp. 272–274
  17. ^ Fiske, p. 274
  18. ^ Osgood, p. 94 and Fiske, p. 275
  19. ^ Hatfield, p. 186
  20. ^ Fiske, p. 277
  21. ^ Hatfield, p. 186 and Brenner, p. 143
  22. ^ Osgood, p. 95 and Fiske, pp. 280–282
  23. ^ Brenner, p. 157 and Fiske, pp. 281–282
  24. ^ Brenner, p. 157
  25. ^ Brenner, p. 167
  26. ^ Osgood, pp. 113–114
  27. ^ Fiske, pp. 288–290
  28. ^ Brenner, pp. 167–168
  29. ^ Osgood, pp. 120–121
  30. ^ a b Osgood, p. 124
  31. ^ Fiske, pp. 294–295
  32. ^ Osgood, p. 127 and Fiske, p. 294
  33. ^ Osgood, p. 121
  34. ^ Osgood, p. 129
  35. ^ Osgood, p. 130
  36. ^ Osgood, p. 131
  37. ^ Osgood, pp. 132–133
  38. ^ Osgood, p. 133
  39. ^ Fiske, p. 297
  40. ^ Bernstein, Adam (2007-06-27). "Liz Claiborne, 78, Fashion Industry Icon". The Washington Post: pp. B07. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  41. ^ A number of genealogies reference his descendants, including Boddie's 1999 Virginia Historical Genealogies.
  42. ^ "The National Society of the Claiborne Family Descendants". Retrieved 2008-01-22.


Brenner, Robert (2003). Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict, and London's Overseas Traders. London:Verso. ISBN 1-85984-333-6. Browne, William Hand (1890). George Calvert and Cecilius Calvert: Barons Baltimore of Baltimore. New York: Dodd, Mead, and Company. Fiske, John (1897). Old Virginia and Her Neighbors. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. Krugler, John D. (2004). English and Catholic: the Lords Baltimore in the Seventeenth Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 0-8018-7963-9. Hatfield, April Lee (2004). Atlantic Virginia: Intercolonial Relations in the Seventeenth Century. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-3757-9. Osgood, Herbert Levi (1907). The American Colonies in the Seventeenth Century. London: MacMilland and Company. Richardson, Douglas (2005). Magna Carta Ancestry: A Study in Colonial and Medieval Families. Genealogical Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8063-1759-0.

Exploring Maryland's Roots: William Claiborne National Society of Claiborne Family Descendants


In 1627, William Claiborne set out to locate the source of the great Chesapeake Bay. In August 1631, he landed upon the Isle of Kent and established the first English settlement in Maryland. This settlement was one of the first in the nation, predated only by Jamestown, Plymouth Rock, and the Massachusetts Colony. Established on the southeastern side of the island, the settlement stood approximately 2 miles northeast of Kent Point on the shore of what is now known as Eastern Bay. The island was already inhabited by several Native American tribes including the Matapeakes who occupied the southern banks of the Chester River and the Monoponsons who lived on the southern end of the island. The early settlers were often subject to attack from neighboring mainland tribes, the Wicomese and the Susquehannas. Records indicate that Claiborne built a fort, a church, dwellings and boats. He also built the first boat in Maryland, a small sailboat called a pinnace, which Claiborne named the "Long Tayle." In addition to planting gardens and orchards, Claiborne stocked farms with cattle and planted tobacco, starting Maryland’s famous tobacco economy that sustained the colonists and dominated colonial life until the 1800s when corn and wheat replaced it as Maryland’s main crops. Unfortunately, due to 350 years of erosion, today the remains of the settlement are most likely underwater. The next 25 years were turbulent ones as Claiborne struggled with Lord Baltimore for control of the island. It is reported that the first naval battle of the new world was fought between the forces of Claiborne and Lord Baltimore over possession of the island. Claiborne eventually lost his fight and was forced to relinquish control of the island.


Colonel William CLAIBORNE 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 was christened 10 Aug 1600 in Crayford, Kent, England. He died 1678 in , New Kent, Virginia. William married Elizabeth BUTLER on 1635 in , Westmorland, Virginia.

Elizabeth BUTLER [Parents] 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 was born 1610 in Roxwell, Essex, England. She married Colonel William CLAIBORNE on 1635 in , Westmorland, Virginia.

Hon./Capt. William Claiborne, born ca 1600, baptized 10 August 1600 in Crayford, son of Thomas & Sara Smyth-James Claiborne. William was admitted to Pembroke College, Cambridge, 31 May 1617 at age 16. On 13 June 1621 he was chosen by the Virginia Company to undertake the task of Surveyor of the Colony, compensated with 200 acres of land in the colony. He arrived at Jamestown in October, 1621 on the ship the George. He laid out the area on Jamestown Island known as New Towne. William would achieve many honors during his lifetime. In 1623 he was appointed to the council, and would serve as the first Secretary of the Colony 1625-35, 1652-60, and Treasurer – appointed for life in this position. He accumulated large tracts of land, including 250 acres at Archer’s Hope (James City); 500 acres at Blount Point (Warwick), 150 acres at Elizabeth City; 5000 acres in Northumerland County; 5000 acres on the Pamunkey; and 1,500 acres on the north wide of the York the River. His plantation in Virginia- was called “Romancoke.” By 1626 he had accumulated a total of 17,500 acres in 7 different locales. In 1631 he settled the Isle of Kent in the Chesapeake Bay and named his plantation there Crayford, becoming the 1st White Settler in what is now known as the State of Maryland He would subsequently lose his land on the Isle of Kent due to political machinations of the Royal Governor. He served courageously as Captain of the colonial troops in their struggles with the Indians.

William married ca 1635 Elizabeth Butler, born ca 1610 in Roxwell, Essex, England. “She was the daughter of John Butler (1585 - ?) and Jane Elliott (abt. 1582 - ?) of Little Burche Hall, Roxwell, Essex, England. Elizabeth's siblings were John Butler of Kent Island, Sara Butler, ? Butler (female), and Thomas Butler, married Joan Mountsteven Butler wife of Nicholas Mountsteven, haberdasher of St. Marins at Ludgate. Elizabeth's uncle was Capt. Nathaniel Butler, Governor of Bermuda.”

William & Elizabeth’s children were 1) Jane, 2) John, 3) THOMAS, 4) William, Jr. “the younger”, and 5) Leonard. William had died by Mar 1677, probably on his plantation, Romancoke.

Secretary of the Colony of Virginia

"Clayton Torrance in his excellent article on the English Ancestry of William Claiborne wrote: "There is no evidence that the Honorable WilliamClaiborne (1600-1677/8) and his wife Elizabeth Butler had other children (at least who survived infancy or childhood) than William, Thomas, Leonard, John, and Jane). Also Mary married 1st Edward Rice and 2nd Col. RobertHarris, 167__. "


STATE OF VIRGINIA Deeds & Orders 1650 ; 1652, pg. 36, William Claiborne 1648

Whereas there are certain debts and other things due to me at Chichecon (i.e. Chicacone) and other places up the Bay. These presents are to appoint and authorize my kinsman Mr. Samuel Smith to ask and receive as also to implead and acquit and compound for any the said debts with any persons inhabitants or beings in the said places and in particularas being guardian unto my two daughters I do hereby authorize the said Samuel Smythe to take all those cattle at Chiceon into his custody fortheir use and to receive a heifer due from the estate of James Cloughton for a bull he killed of theirs witness hereunto my hand and seal this second day of April 1648

_______________________________W. Claiborne Witness: Christopher Williams _______________________________

Following account re Claiborne's settlement on Hampton site is from Old Kecoughtan (p86), William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine, Series 1, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1901:

 On the west side of the river lived in these early days that very quaint character in our early history, called William Capp, who resided at "Little England," anciently known as Capps' Point, and who in 1610 represented Kecoughtan in the first American Legislature. Above him, on two tracts of land, together aggregating 150 acres, and separated from Capps by a creek, was the most famous of all the early settlers of this region. This man was the celebrated William Claiborne, surveyor, Treasurer of Virginia and Secretary of State. Here, on the very site of the present Hampton Town, he had his storehouse for trade with the Indians up Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere, and from this storehouse his sloops, loaded with goods in exchange for skins and furs, sailed to many points in Maryland, Nansemond and the Eastern Shore.

Isle of Kent, first permanent European settlement soon to become the colony of Maryland <p>Kent Island, Maryland's First Permanent European Settlement </p><p>"Virginian William Claiborne, a partner in the Lond firm of Cloberry and Company, claimed a large Eastern Shore island in the middle bay for a settlement and trading post. At the time the English arrived, the island was inhabited by Matapeake indians, who sold it to Claiborne for 12  pounds of trade goods. Naming it "Isle of Kent" after his birthplace, he chose a site east  and north of Kent Point on the southern tip of the island and there erected a stockade protected by four cannons. About one hundred people made up this first permanent European settlement in what soon became the new colony of Maryland."</p><p> </p><p>Source: </p><font size="2">The disappearing islands of the Chesapeake</font> <p>Written by William B. Cronin,Calvert Marine Museum,Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum,Mariners' Museum (Newport News, Va.),Maryland Historical Society</p><p><a href=";pg=PA46&amp;lpg=PA46&amp;dq =%22Kent+Island%22+%22fur+trade%22&source=bl&ots=Wg4Nx18Qy9&sig=1bOX7puzgm57 G5KK-IF1CKB_LbU&hl=es&ei=RoPyTMq8G8qXhQfzlqThDA&sa=X&oi=book_result& amp;ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=claiborne&f=false">;pg=PA46&amp;lpg=PA46&amp;dq=%22Kent+Is land%22+%22fur+trade%22&source=bl&ots=Wg4Nx18Qy9&sig=1bOX7puzgm57G5KK-IF1CKB _LbU&hl=es&ei=RoPyTMq8G8qXhQfzlqThDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct= result&resnum=4&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=claiborne&f=false</a>< /span

WIlliam Claiborne credited with starting piracy on the Bay

Despite early efforts to keep piracy out of Chesapeake waters, pirates could not long be confined to the high seas. By 1635, the first act of piracy had been committed on the Chesapeake. William Claiborne, owner of a plantation on Kent Island, sent his agent to capture a small pinnace as it approached Palmer's Island at the head of the Bay. Fueled by growing tensions between Maryland and Virginia, Claiborne (a Virginian) was likely incensed that the Maryland pinnace had invaded territory of his Kent Island plantation. The event sounded the starting gun for almost two hundred years of piracy in the Bay.

Colonel William CLAIBORNE was christened 10 Aug 1600 in Crayford, Kent, England, son of Thomas & Sara Smyth-James Claiborne.ref>Source: #S-206 Page 438</ref> He died 1678 in New Kent, Virginia.

William matriculated at Pembroke College, Cambridge, 31 May 1617 at age 16.[3] On 13 June 1621 he was chosen by the Virginia Company to undertake the task of Surveyor of the Colony, compensated with 200 acres of land in the colony. He arrived at Jamestown in October, 1621, on the ship the George and laid out the area on Jamestown Island known as New Towne.

William married Elizabeth BUTLER on 1635 in Westmorland, Virginia. Elizabeth was born 1610 in Roxwell, Essex, England. She was the daughter of John Butler (1585 - ?) and Jane Elliott (abt. 1582 - ?) of Little Burche Hall, Roxwell, Essex, England.[4] Elizabeths siblings were John Butler of Kent Island, Sara Butler, ? Butler (female), and Thomas Butler, married Joan Mountsteven Butler wife of Nicholas Mountsteven, haberdasher of St. Marins at Ludgate. Elizabeths uncle was Capt. Nathaniel Butler, Governor of Bermuda.

(William may have returned to England 24 Mar 1629/30 where he met Elizabeth Butler and married about 1631. Another source has two marriages - one to Jane Butler and another to Elizabeth Butler. Another source has his marriage 1635 in VA but this does not seem to fit birth dates of children.)

William would achieve many honors during his lifetime. In 1621, he was appointed Surveyor General at the solicitation of his cousin Ann, Countess of Pembroke. In 1623 he was appointed to the council and would serve as the first Secretary of the Colony 1625-35, 1652-60, and Treasurer – appointed for life in this position. He accumulated large tracts of land, including 250 acres at Archer’s Hope (James City); 500 acres at Blount Point (Warwick), 150 acres at Elizabeth City; 5000 acres in Northumerland County; 5000 acres on the Pamunkey; and 1,500 acres on the north wide of the York the River. His plantation in Virginia was called "Romancoke."

By 1626 he had accumulated a total of 17,500 acres in 7 different locales. In 1631 he settled the Isle of Kent in the Chesapeake Bay, becoming the 1st White Settler in what is now known as the State of Maryland, and named his plantation there "Crayford," He subsequently lost his land on the Isle of Kent due to political machinations of the Royal Governor.

William died in or after March 1677, probably on his plantation, Romancoke. Torrence states that there is no positive evidence of the date or place of William’s death, but it was about 1677 or 1678. There is no existing evidence of a will or probate.[5]

William Claiborne married, about 1635, Elizabeth Boteler (Butler), born before 1612, sister of John Boteler, an 3 March 2007 Family of Thomas (Sr.) CLAIBORNE/CLAYBORNE **** Page 14 associate of Claiborne on Kent Island, and daughter of Jo hn and Jane (Elliott) Boteler of the Parish of Roxwell, County Essex, England. As the "wife of Captain William Claiborne, Treasurer of the Colony," Elizabeth Claiborne patented 700 acres in Elizabeth City County, 26 November 1647, the patent reciting that the land was made over to her by her husband "in nature and lieu of a jointure," 11 June 1644. The last record of her, 1 March 1668/9, is a power of attorney for conveyance of land given by her to

"my son Captain William Claiborne, Junr," of New Kent 

County. The settlement of Kecoughtan was later named Elizabeth City (VA). In part, for carrying out his duties as Surveyor, Claiborne received a grant of 250 acres at Archer's Hope just

below Jamestown in Dec 1625.  In May 

1626 he received an additional grant of 500 acres near Blount Point on the n eck of land between the Warwick River and Deep Creek. Claiborne made his first return voyage to England in the fall of 1630. He would return to Virginia in the May of 1631. The purpose of the visit was to secure financing for his Kent Island venture in the upper Chesapeake and to recruit settlers. There Claiborne was introduced to the hous ehold of John Butler at Little Burch Hall. It was here that he met the 21 year old Elizabeth Butler. He also met her older brothers, John and Thomas. They had two sons at least, William and Thomas Claibor ne; two daughters, Jane Claiborne who married Thomas Brereton and Mary Claiborne who married 1st Edward Rice and after his death she married Robert Harris.


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Colonel William Claiborne, I's Timeline

July 25, 1599
St. Dunstan's,Church,Middlesex Co,England
July 25, 1599
August 10, 1600
Crayford Parish, Kent, England, (Present UK)
August 10, 1600
Crayford Parish, Kent, Engalnd, (Present UK)
August 10, 1600
Age 29
Northumberland Co., Va
Age 29
New Kent or Hanover County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
August 17, 1636
Age 36
Elizabeth City County, Virginia Colony, Colonial America
Age 37
Romancoke, New Kent County, Virginia