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Thomas West, Baron De la Warr Portrait, 1610

Context

This painting depicts Thomas West, the twelfth baron De la Warr. De la Warr  was appointed by King James I in 1606 to be part of the royal council that oversaw the Virginia Company of London. He remained in England, where he helped monitor things from afar and would likely have been influential with policies and charters that would have impacted the colonies.

In 1610 De la Warr was appointed Virginia’s governor and captain-general for life and he set sail with ships full of supplies and colonists later that same year. He arrived in Virginia in June 1610 to find the people of Jamestown ready to desert the colony but his supplies and new colonists (along with an order to remain) helped convince them to stay.

During the remainder of 1610 through early 1611 De la Warr exercised a military regime that helped stabilize the chaotic colony but did not endear him to its occupants. He participated in several bloody attacks against the nearby Indian tribes in an attempt to protect the colony during the first Anglo-Powhatan War, but did not manage to bring about any sort of resolution.

During his time in Virginia De la Warr contracted dysentery and scurvy, which aggravated his already poor health and forced him to return to England in March of 1611. This move was not well received among the other members of the Virginia Company and De la Warr had to defend himself via a letter published in June of that year. De la Warr, however, saw his return to England as temporary and set sail for Virginia in 1618, but died during the return voyage.

Citation: Sheppard, William Ludwell, (1833-1912). Portrait of Thomas West, Baron De la Warr, 1877. State Artwork Collection, Library of Virginia.

Billings, Warren M. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Thomas West, twelfth baron De La Warr (1576–1618)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 27 Oct. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2015.

Standards

History: VS.1, VS.3, VS.4, USI.1, USI.5, VUS.1, VUS.3
English: 4.7, 5.7

Suggested Questions

Analyze: Do you think that a military regime was the best option for the colony? If not, what do you think would have worked better?

In Their Shoes: Pretend to be one of the colonists and write a letter to a family member in England, describing the events during De la Warr’s time in Virginia.

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