Nauset and vicinity

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  • ID: I12273
  • Name: William Gorges
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: est 1590 in Wraxall, Somerset
  • Death: Aft 1637 in England
  • Note:
    Gorges, Robert (1595-1624?), William Gorges (1606-1659), and Thomas Gorges (1618-1670), son, nephew, and cousin, respectively, of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, an English soldier, colonizer of New England, and proprietor of Maine, each served at different times as his deputy governor in the New World. They were the agents for his repeated attempts to settle territory for England, bring law and order to the area, and carve out a personal estate for himself in the 1620s, 1630s, and 1640s until civil war at home and his death in 1647 intervened.

    William Gorges, soldier, was born in Wraxall, England, the son of Sir Edward Gorges, the older brother of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, and Dorothy Speke. He first served his uncle Sir Ferdinando as a lieutenant at Plymouth Fort and then as governor of the Province of New Somersetshire, a grant Sir Ferdinando obtained from the Council of New England when its territories were divided up in 1635. William Gorges went to New England in 1636 with other settlers, including "craftsmen for the building of houses and erecting of saw-mills," as well as cattle for a private plantation to be established for his uncle.

    As governor William Gorges became embroiled in a dispute with George Cleeve, a cantankerous early settler. Disturbed by the actions of the youthful governor, Cleeve departed for England, where he voiced his complaints to Sir Ferdinando, who then recalled his nephew in 1637. Sir Ferdinando later regretted this action, saying that Cleeve had deceived him. The result was that this effort to impose formal government and thereby further his private interests failed. Once back in England, William Gorges wrote that he had been "disappointed of my . . . voyage." What he did next is not clear.

    Father: Edward Gorges b: 5 Sep 1564 in England

    1. Title: The Gorges family
      Author: Maxine N. Lurie
      Publication: online
      For genealogical information on the Gorges family see James P. Baxter, Sir Ferdinando Gorges and His Province of Maine (3 vols., 1890; repr. 1967), and Raymond Gorges, The Story of a Family through Eleven Centuries . . . Being a History of the Family of Gorges (1944). These two books also provide information on the three Gorges as governors. For specific material on William see Charles E. Banks, "The Administration of William Gorges, 1636 to 1637," Maine Historical Society Collections, 2d ser., 1 (1890): 125-31. For Thomas see Robert E. Moody, ed., The Letters of Thomas Gorges, Deputy Governor of the Province of Maine, 1640-1643 (1978), and Moody, A Proprietary Experiment in Early New England History: Thomas Gorges and the Province of Maine (1963). References to Robert are scattered in these and the following sources. Still useful for general information on Maine are Henry S. Burrage, The Beginnings of Colonial Maine, 1602-1658 (1914) and Gorges and the Grant of the Province of Maine 1622 (1923). More modern evaluation is in Richard A. Preston, Gorges of Plymouth Fort (1953); John G. Reid, Acadia, Maine, and New Scotland: Marginal Colonies in the Seventeenth Century (1981); and Emerson Baker et al., eds., American Beginnings: Exploration, Culture, and Cartography in the Land of Norumbega (1994).
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