Nielsen Hayden genealogy

Nathaniel Butler, Governor of Bermuda

Male 1577 - Aft 1642  (> 66 years)


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  • Name Nathaniel Butler 
    Suffix Governor of Bermuda 
    Born 1577  [1
    Gender Male 
    Alternate birth 1578  [2
    Died Aft 1642  [1
    Person ID I26474  Ancestry of PNH, TNH, and others
    Last Modified 14 Sep 2019 

    Father John Butler,   b. Aft 1532, of Tofte in Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Between 1 Sep 1612 and 20 Jan 1614  (Age < 78 years) 
    Mother Mary Gedge,   b. 1541,   d. Aft 1615  (Age > 75 years) 
    Married Aft 1571  [2
    Family ID F7481  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Notes 
    • From Wikipedia:

      Nathaniel Butler [...] ]was an English privateer who later served as the colonial governor of Bermuda during the early 17th century. He had built many structures still seen in Bermuda today including many of the island's coastal fortresses and the State House, in St. George's, the oldest surviving English settlement in the New World (the State House, completed in 1620, was the first purpose-built building to house the Bermudian parliament). He also has the distinction of introducing the potato, the first seen in North America, to the early English colonists of Jamestown, Virginia.

      First serving in the service of the Earl of Warwick during his early sailing career, he was later appointed as governor of Bermuda, then administered by the Somers Isles Company (an offshoot of the Virginia Company), a post which he served from 1619 to 1622. During this time, he salvaged guns from a shipwrecked vessel and used them to arm the island forts then under construction including Southampton Fort and those of Smith's and Paget Island in 1620 (the incident would later be recorded by John Smith in 1624). While Governor of Bermuda, he played an indirect role in the development of the Bermuda rig, when he employed a shipwrecked Dutch boat-builder. He would also be the first to introduce the potato to North America when, in 1621, he had a cargo of potatoes shipped to Governor Francis Wyatt of Jamestown. He was the third governor of Bermuda.

      After a brief stay in Jamestown the following year, during which he published a report entitled "Unmasked Face of Our Colony in Virginia as it was in the winter of the Year 1622" later presented to the Privy Council upon his return to London, Butler was made an Admiral of the Providence Island colony, at the age of 61. He later found employ with the Providence Island Company during 1639 and 1640.

      While on a privateering expedition in mid-1639 along the Spanish Main, he successfully captured a Spanish frigate at the harbour of Trujillo, and was later paid 16,000 pesos in ransom. However, the frigate alone was considered a poor prize by the standards of the time and, suffering from inexperienced officers unfamiliar with the region (including future privateer James Riskinner), the expedition followed a very erratic course throughout the Caribbean and failed to capture anything else of value by the time of their return to Providence in September 1639.

  • Sources 
    1. [S76] The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-ongoing).

    2. [S3498] Butler of Droitwich by Jon M. Stallard. Richmond, Virginia, 2004.