Francis Wyatt

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Sir Francis Wyatt
Governor of Virginia
In office
November 1621 – 18 September 1625
Appointed by James I
Preceded by Sir George Yeardley
Succeeded by Sir George Yeardley
In office
November 1639 – February 1641
Appointed by Charles I
Preceded byJohn Harvey
Succeeded byWilliam Berkeley
Personal details
Royal commission from Charles I of England appointing Sir Francis Wyatt as Governor of Virginia

Sir Francis Wyatt (1588–1644) was an English nobleman, knight, politician, and government official. He was the first English royal governor of Virginia. He sailed for America on 1 August 1621 on board the George. He became governor shortly after his arrival in October, taking with him the first written constitution for an English colony. Also sailing with him on this voyage was his second cousin Henry Fleete Sr., who helped found colonies in both Virginia and Maryland. In 1622 he rallied the defense of Jamestown which was attacked by Native Americans, during which the lives of some 400 settlers were lost and he then oversaw the contraction of the colony from scattered outposts into a defensive core. [1]


Francis was the son of Sir George Wyatt and his wife Jane Finch. He was born at Boxley Manor in Kent, and attended St Mary Hall, Oxford, (from 1 July 1603) and Grey's Inn (1604). He was knighted 7 July 1618 at Windsor. [2]

Wyatt was governor of Virginia from November 1621. Virginia became a royal colony in 1624, but Sir Francis, at the request of the crown, remained on as governor until 18 September 1625, when Sir George Yeardley, whom he had succeeded, resumed the office. In 1624, Wyatt resided in Jamestown with his wife, his brother Haute, and seventeen servants. In 1625, he received a black servant girl after a court settlement from her previous employer. [3] After leaving office, he left Virginia for Ireland and England to settle his father's estate. He was appointed governor again in 1639, sailing from England to take up his post. He served from November 1639 until February 1641 and was then succeeded by Sir William Berkeley. He arranged the purchase of the home of the previous governor to use as the first designated "state house" of the colony, the government previously having met in the church. [4]

Wyatt returned to England after his second term as governor and died in Boxley. He was buried there on 24 August 1644.

Sir Francis Wyatt organized the General Assembly which had been called in 1619. This was the first legislative body in America. Sir Francis caused its privileges to be embodied in a written constitution, the first of its kind in the New World.


Francis Wyatt's grandfather was Sir Thomas Wyatt the younger, who had led the Kent faction of Wyatt's rebellion to the Spanish marriage of Queen Mary in support of Lady Elizabeth, and was executed for treason as a result. His great-grandfather Thomas Wyatt the elder, the poet, was briefly imprisoned in the Tower of London for an alleged relationship with Anne Boleyn.

Sir Francis's wife Margaret was the daughter of Sir Samuel Sandys and the niece of George Sandys, the treasurer of Jamestown. Francis and Margaret's children included Henry, whose daughter Frances briefly held Boxley; Francis, who was at King's College, Cambridge, in 1639; Edwin, an MP who successfully sued his niece to regain Boxley, but whose son died without issue; and Elizabeth, whose grandson Robert Marsham, 1st Baron Romney (1685–1724), eventually inherited Boxley. Boxley remained with the barons and earls of Romney for more than two hundred years. [5] Sir Francis left no direct descendants in what would later become the United States of America.

    • Sir Francis had a daughter Elizabeth Wyatt who married Christopher Garlington who immigrated to America (Virginia) between 1637 and 1638. He was born between 1614-1620, in England (his father, Nicholas was born in 1582, in Thurland Castle, Lancashire, England). He returned to England briefly to marry Elizabeth Wyatt abt. 1644, sister of Sir Dudley Wyatt, Cavalier who came to Virginia. He had served in the army of Charles I, King of England, and was one of the grantees of the northern Neck, all the tract of land between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers, from Charles I, dated at the St. Germains in France, 18 September 1650. Virginia was the only place that these faithful soldiers of King Charles I had to go to seek new fortunes. "Cavaliers and Pioneers, Volume I, Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1800", by Nell Marion Nugent and published in 1934, on Page 186.

We see that Christopher Garlington, from a prominent and titled family in England, paid his way to Virginia and purchased land, in Virginia, on or before 1638. Christopher found Virginia to be a safe haven for worshiping freely and in an attempt to recreate the Garlington fortune. The first record found for Christopher is recorded in :York County, Deeds, Orders, Wills, Etc. Book 2, p. 58: "…Christopher Carlington(a misspelling of the name) his heirs executors administrators or asignes to their owne use forever one hundred acres of land sett lying & being at the heed of the New Pocosin River being bounded by the sd river on the North & running South unto the Maine woods & by the Gleabe land on the East side & on the West by the s'd Thomas Curtice …"Christopher Garlington is mentioned in Nell Marion Nugent's Book, "Cavaliers & Pioneers, Volume I, abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, 1623-1800, Page 371, page 383, Page 467, and Page 556, and many more. From these land records it would seem that Christopher Garlington moved from York County to Northumberland County by the year 1658. Christopher Garlington became a substantial tobacco plantation owner.

Christopher Garlington III, grandson of Christopher Garlington I, married Elizabeth Conway in Lancaster County, Virginia on 5 May 1724. Miss Conway was born in 1705/1705 to Col. Edwin Conway III and his wife Ann Ball. Ann Ball, daughter of Col. Joseph Ball and Elizabeth Romney Ball, and half sister to Mary Ball, the mother of George Washington. Rita Carpenter Jenrette is a direct descendant of Christopher Garlington.

His younger brother, the Reverend Hawte Wyatt (1594–1638), who was the rector of Maidstone, Kent, traveled to Virginia with Francis in 1621 and returned with him to England in 1624, after their father died. Rev. Wyatt's many descendants in America include the late Duchess of Windsor, wife of Edward VIII, later the Duke of Windsor. [6]


  1. ^ ""to quit many of our Plantacons and to vnite more neerely together in fewer places the better for to Strengthen and Defende ourselve.", Gov. Francis Wyatt, quoted in At the Edge of the Precipice: Frontier Ventures, Jamestown’s Hinterland, and the Archaeology of 44JC802 Archived 24 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Seth Mallios, APVA Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities July 2000
  2. ^ The Virginia magazine of history and biography, Volume 3 By Virginia Historical Society, p. 177, 1895
  3. ^ A Study of the Africans and African Americans on Jamestown Island and at Green Spring, 1619–1803, Martha W. McCartney, 2003
  4. ^ STATEHOUSES AT JAMESTOWN, Virtual Jamestown
  5. ^ [1] Allington & Boxley: a compilation of original sources on Allington Castle and Boxley Abbey. Accessed 2012 3 April.
  6. ^ Vickers, Hugo (2011). Behind Closed Doors: The Tragic, Untold, Story of the Duchess of Windsor. London: Hutchinson. p. 377. ISBN  978-0-09-193155-1.
Government offices
Preceded by
George Yeardley
Colonial Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
George Yeardley
Preceded by
John Harvey
Colonial Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
William Berkeley