John Archdale

Governor of Carolina Province 1695 to 1696

John Archdale (1642-1717)

John Archdale was a son of Thomas Archdale of Loaks, in Chipping Wycomb, Bucks County, England and came to New England in 1664 as agent of his brother-in-law, Governor Fernando Gorges of Maine.

John Archdale owned two different shares of Carolina and was therefore a Lord Proprietor at two different times. He first purchased the share of John Berkeley, 1st Baron of Stratton upon that man's death in 1678. He gave that share to his young son, Thomas Archdale, who reached maturity and sold this share in 1696. John Archdale later purchased the share of Sir William Berkeley, left to his wife Lady Frances Berkeley, then she sold to four of the Lords Proprietors, who then sold this share to Archdale in 1705. In 1708, he gave this share to his daughter Mary Archdale Danson and her husband John Danson.

John Archdale visited the Albemarle region of North Carolina in March of 1686, and was commissioner for Gov. Fernando Gorges in Maine in 1687-'88. He became Governor of Carolina in 1695, and held the office for about two years. He was sagacious, prudent, and moderate, and under his administration the province made great progress in internal improvements. Archdale was a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), and, while enforcing a militia law, exempted all Friends from service.

By his moderation he quieted the troubles between the colonists and their feudal sovereigns, and, by establishing a special board for deciding contests between white men and Indians, he won the friendship of the latter. His conscientious scruples concerning the required oaths prevented his taking a seat in Parliament, to which he was elected in 1698.

Archdale published "A New Description of the Fertile and Pleasant Province of Carolina, with a Brief Account of its Discovery, Settling, and Government, up to this Time, with several Remarkable Passages during My Time" (London, 1707).

He was a Quaker and a Lord Proprietor, having purchased John Berkeley's share in 1678, which he soon gave to his son, Thomas Archdale. When a law was passed requiring officeholders to take an oath to serve the English crown, the Quakers, who believed oaths should be made only to God, met opposition and were prohibited from holding public office. From that time on their influence waned.

The Lords Proprietors in 1694 authorized Governor John Archdale "for ye Incouragement of settling those parts wch lye north of Cape Fear" to dispose of lands at moderate and reasonable rates so long as they were not below a half penny per acre.
On August 13, 1694, William Craven, 1st Baron Craven, and Palatine issued a commission and instructions to John Archdale, a former Lords Proprietor and future Lords Proprietor again (in 1705 he purchased William Berkeley's share from four other Lords Proprietors), as the next governor of Carolina. He did not arrive in Charles Town until August of 1695. The Lords Proprietors made him a Landgrave on November 24, 1694.

Click Here to read the Commission and Instructions provided by the Lords Proprietors to Governor John Archdale.

John Archdale, a distinguished and talented Quaker, arriving in August of 1695, began an administration so just and wise the dissension ceased and the colony entered upon a new career of prosperity. The quit-rents on lands were remitted for four years. The people were given the option of paying their taxes in money or in produce. The Indians were conciliated with kindness and protected against kidnappers.

Some native Catholics were ransomed from slavery and sent to their homes in Florida, and the Spanish governor reciprocated the deed with a friendly message. When the old jealousy against the Huguenots asserted itself in the Commons House of Assembly, the benevolent influence of Archdale procured the passage of a law by which all Christians, except the Catholics, were fully enfranchised; the ungenerous exception was made against the governor's will. It was a real misfortune to the colony when, in 1696, the good governor was recalled to England.

Owing to incompetent and thieving governors, appointed through favoritism and not fitness for the office, and to abortive attempts to introduce the Fundamental Constitutions on an unwilling people, the Albemarle colony did not prosper, and in 1693 the population was but half what it had been fifteen years before, while the Clarendon colony planted by Yeamans on the Cape Fear had been wholly abandoned long before that.

Meantime another colony had been planted at the mouths of the Ashley and Cooper rivers. These two surviving colonies, several hundred miles apart, now began to be called North and South Carolina. Their governments were combined into one, and better times were now at hand. In 1695, John Archdale, a good Quaker, became governor of both Carolinas, and from this time the settlements were much more prosperous that before.

The Pilgrims gave thanks that 90 per cent of the native population of New England had been wiped out so that in the words of John Archdale, Governor of Carolina in the 1690s, "the Hand of God [has been] eminently seen in thinning the Indians, to make room for the English".
In 1707, John Archdale, former governor of the province of Carolina, described in his memoirs how he communicated with certain Indians:

I…ordered him to bring these Indians with him to Charles Town, which accordingly he did. There were three men and one woman; they could speak Spanish, and I had a Jew for an Interpreter, so upon examination I found they professed the Christian Religion as the Papists do…

This incident took place in August of 1695, apparently right after Archdale's arrival in Charles Town.

There is no evidence to support many claims that John Archdale was a Governor or Deputy Governor of Albemarle in the mid-1680s.
Click Here for information on the Executive Council under Governor John Archdale.
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