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Norborne Berkeley Botetourt

BOTETOURT, Norborne Berkeley, baron. colonial governor of Virginia, born in England about 1717; died in Williamsburg, Virginia, 15 October 1770. He was colonel of the North Gloucestershire militia in 1761, and represented that division of the county in parliament until he was made a peer in 1764. He claimed the title of Baron Botetourt, or Bottetourt, as the lineal descendant of Sir Maurice de Berkeley, who died in 1347. Having lost heavily at gambling, he solicited an appointment, and in July 1768, was made governor of Virginia. He was instructed to impress the colonists with a display of power and dignity, and to enforce submission to the principle of parliamentary supremacy, while humoring the colonists in every other particular. He succeeded Sir Jeffrey Amherst, who, like his predecessors for three quarters of a century, would not go out to Virginia to reside. Lord Botetourt was expected to arrive in a seventy-four, and to set up a state carriage and a body-guard. He arrived in the James River in November 1768, and was soon on friendly terms with the Virginians. In May 1769, when the assembly passed resolutions condemnatory of parliamentary taxation and of the sending of accused persons to England for trial, Botetourt dissolved the legislature, in which Thomas Jefferson, a young lawyer recently elected from Albemarle county, was a leader. The next day they met in convention at the Raleigh tavern and passed resolutions against the use of any merchandise that should be imported from Great Britain These articles of association were recommended to the other colonies and sent to England. All of the members were re-elected except those who had dissented from the action of the majority. Lord Botetourt did not forfeit the respect and esteem of the people by that act. In his correspondence with Hillsborough, Lord Botetourt wrote that the colonists would eagerly assist the mother-country if called upon by requisition, as formerly, but that they would never assent to the principle of parliamentary taxation. He received from Lord Hillsborough a promise of repeal, and, finding himself deceived, demanded his recall, and shortly afterward died, his death having been hastened by chagrin at the failure of his efforts to effect a reconciliation between the colonists and the home authorities. He interested himself, during his residence in Virginia, in William and Mary College, and presented gold and silver medals to the students. In 1770 the assembly voted to erect a statue of the deceased governor, which was executed in 1774 and placed in front of the capitol, whence it was removed in 1797 to the front of William and Mary College, where it stood until the civil war, during which it was taken to the enclosure of the insane asylum at Williamsburg.

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