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It was at this time that the old feudal fealty showed itself in Virginia, being given an opportunity of expression in favor of the Crown of which Virginia was a fief. It was at this time that Sir William Berkeley was gov. ernor of Virginia, one of those few knightly souls of old Europe who came to America and whose renown is worthy to live forever in the pages of chivalry. "He. belonged to an ancient English family; believed in monarchy as a devotee believes in his saint, and brought to the little capital at Jamestown all the graces, amenities and well-bred ways which at that time were articles of faith with the cavaliers. He was certainly a cavalier of cavaliers, taking that word to signify an adherent of monarchy and the Established Church. For these, this smiling gentleman was going to fight like a tiger or a ruffian. The glove was of velvet but under it was the iron hand which would fall inexorably alike on the New England Puritans and the followers of Bacon''-Cook's “Hist. of Virginia'' p. 182.
And he was right in his severity, for force only can keep fraud at bay!
To write the life of Berkeley could be done better in verse than in prose. He was a hero-a “Rokeby"-the only hero in all the history of the thirteen English colonies of North America whose personality is sur. rounded by the halo of romance. His mind was exalted, keen and active. He wrote a “Discourse and View of Virginia” and his drama “The Lost Lady” was acted in London and made an impression for its merit and character on Pepys. He was an able administrator and looked after the prosperity of the colony in material things. He set an example to planters in the manner in which he cultivated his estate of “Greenspring” ten miles from Jamestown, where he raised 1500 apple trees, besides apricots, peaches, pears, quinces and mellicottons.” The colony under his administration advanced to a population of 40,000. In his hospitality he was unbounded. The noble generosity of his soul caused him to stand with knightly valor by those who had pledged themselves in the same cause, through the cal. amities of misfortune and the dangers of civil strife. "When afterwards, in the stormy times, the poor cavaliers
flocked to Virginia to find a place of refuge, he entertained them in a regal fashion at 'Greenspring'". (Cook's “Virginia” p. 183.)
It was at this time in 1649 that they brought the news with them—the cavalier exiles—that the monarchy was wrecked, democracy triumphant and the King murdered. It was at this time that Sir William Berkeley felt the occasion strong within him and did that act which made the memory of the whole colony of Virginia great, which gave it a reputation from his heroism and fealty that no other colony has ever achieved and which she would never had achieved without that gallant and immortal cavalier. He determined in the line of his duty, his fealty of knight to King, to rally his little power to the cause of the fallen monarchy and to cast the armed gauntlet of defiance at the mighty commonwealth of England and all her dependencies. It was his duty; and not to reason for the expediency of it, or to neglect it for the number and strength of the enemy.
According to a manuscript by a Puritan regicide in the British Museum Library, E. 665-3, pages 1604-7, on the "Surrender of the Colony of Virginia," it is related that he “laid about him very busily and very loudly all last summer both in actions and in speeches. * He got the militia of the country to be of his party and nothing talked on but burning, hanging, plundering, etc., or anything rather than yield to such bloody tyrants,” (as the parliament of England). What by threatening some and flattering others, the assistance of 500 Indians promised him * * * * he had so far prevailed and was of late so far seconded by those unhappy gentlemen that help to ruin themselves and their King
* * * that there was indeed little else spoken of, or resolved on but ruin for this poor wicked country.”
These ''unhappy gentlemen'' spoken of, who were brought to aid Sir William, were no doubt the few cavaliers who did come to Virginia, and the fingers of both hands are more numerous than their names. These he invited to be members of his military council, and their names are more worthy of preservation than any in the ancient history of Colonial Virginia. Then the old hero, Sir William Berkeley, thought it time to break away from
all connection with such a gang of cut-throats, as he called them, and proclaim an independent monarchy in the American Colonies.
On Oct. 10, 1649, he forced the House of Burgesses to sign his proclamation, which is given in full in that very rare book “Henning's Statutes at Large of the Colony of Virginia.” Vol. I. pp. 358-61.
The following is the celebrated Proclamation of an Independent Kingdom in the Colonies under Charles II., against the unconstitutional parliamentary government ruling in England:
Act I. "Whereas divers out of ignorance, others out of malice, schism and faction, in pursuance of some design of innovation, may be presumed to prepare men's minds and inclinations to entertain a good liking of their contrivement, by casting blemishment of dishonor on the late most excellent and now undoubtedly sainted King, and to those close ends vindicating and attesting the late proceedings against the late blessed King (though by so much they may seem to have color of law and form of justice, they may be truly said to have the more and greater height of impudence); and on this foundation of asserting the clearness and legality of the said unparalleled treasons, perpetuated on the said King, do build hopes and inferences to the high dishonor of the regal state, and in truth to the utter disinheritance of His Most Sacred Majesty that now is, and the divesting of him of these rights which the law of Nature and of Nations and the known laws of the Kingdom of England have adjudged inherent to his royal line and the law of God, himself (if sacred writ may be so styled of which this age doth loudly call in question) hath consecrated unto him. And, as arguments easily and naturally deduced from the aforesaid cursed and destructive principles, with endeavor they press and persuade the powers of the commission to be void and null, and all magistracy and offices thereon depending to have lost their vigor and efficacy, by such means assuredly expecting advantages for the accomplishment of their lawless and tyraneous intentions. Be it therefore declared and enacted by the governor, council and burgesses of this Grand Assembly and the authority of the same, that
what person soever, whether stranger or inhabitant of this colony, after the date of this act, by reasoning, discourse, or argument, shall go about to defend and maintain the late traitorous proceedings against the aforesaid King of most happy memory, under any notion of law or justice, such person, using reasoning, discourse or argument, or uttering any words or speeches to such purpose, and being proven by competent witnesses, shall be adjudged an accessory, post mortem to the death of the aforesaid King and shall be proceeded against for the same according to the known laws of England; or, whoever shall go about by irreverent and scandalous language to blast the memory and honor of the late most pious King, shall on conviction suffer such censure and punishment as shall be thought fit by the governor and council. And be it further enacted, that what person soever shall by words or speeches endeavor to insinate any doubt, scruple or question of or concerning the undoubted and inherent right of His Majesty that now is, to the colony of Virginia, and these other, His Majesty's dominions and countries, as King and supreme Governor, such words and speeches shall be adjudged high treason.
“And it is also enacted, that what person soever, by false reports and malicious rumors, shall spread abroad among the people anything to change of government, or to the lessening of the power and authority of the governor, or government, either in civil or ecclesiastical causes (which this Assembly hath and doth declare to be full and plenary to all intents and purposes), such persons, not only the authors of such reports and rumors but the reporters and divulgers thereof (unless it be done by way of legal information before a magistrate) shall be adjudged equally guilty, and shall suffer such punishment even to severity, as shall be thought fit, according to the nature and quality of the offence.”
The names of the Grand Assembly that proclaimed King Charles II. in Virginia were:—Sir William Berkeley, Governor. For James County, Walter Chiles, Thomas Swann, William Barrett, George Reade, William Whittaker, George Dunston. For Henrico County, William Hatcher. For Charles City, Col. Edward Hill and Charles Sparrow. For Warwick County, Col.
Thomas Harwood and John Walker. For Isle of White County, George Handy and Robert Pitt. For Nansmond County, Col. George Carter and Toby Smith. For Elizabeth City, Capt. William Worlick and Joseph Robbins. For Lower Norfolk, Barth. Hoskins and Thomas Lambert. For York County, Col. Ralph Wormley and Ralph Burnham. For Northumberland County, Col. Francis Poythers and Joseph Trussell.