Thomas Eastchurch

Appointed Governor of Albemarle 1677 - Never Served Actively

Thomas Eastchurch had begun his political maneuvering as he sought the post of governor of Albemarle County prior to the 1673 death of his relative, the Lord Treasurer Clifford, and several of the Lords Proprietors had promised that he would have it. At the Albemarle County elections held in September of 1675 in conformance with the terms of the Fundamental Constitutions, Eastchurch and his faction acquired control of the House of Burgesses, and Eastchurch was elected its Speaker.

It appears that after Eastchurch gained control of the House of Burgesses, he arranged to have the President and Acting Governor John Jenkins arrested and imprisoned for several unnamed misdemeanors. In the short time that he was in control of the government, Eastchurch apparently used only the title of Speaker, and not that of Governor. Eastchurch may have been emboldened to take the reins of government on the basis of the earlier promises that he would be appointed governor, but his seizure of power was premature.

By 1677, the scene was set for yet another confrontation between opposing factions in the new colony - Thomas Eastchurch as Speaker of the House of Burgesses and Governor-appointee against Thomas Miller as Secretary and Collector of Customs, holding their commissions from the Lords Proprietors and the Commissioners of Customs respectively. Both had just traveled to England to receive their commissions and headed back to the Albemarle colony.

Click Here to read the Lords Proprietors' two Commissions and Instructions to the newly-appointed Governor Thomas Eastchurch, dated November 21, 1676. Note - one commission is for Albemarle County, and the second commission is for the new settlements south of Albemarle, along the Pamilico River and the Neuse River. Proof that the colony was growing southward.

Eastchurch and Miller took a ship sailing one of the normal trade routes from England to the island of Nevis in the Leeward Islands where they could obtain another ship for America. In Nevis, Eastchurch met a woman of considerable fortune and took the opportunity to marry her. Not wishing to depart quickly and to avoid further delay in settling affairs in Albemarle County, Eastchurch provided Miller with a commission to serve as President of the Executive Council until his arrival and gave him "very full and ample powers."

Eastchurch later proceeded to Jamestown settlement, where he died later in 1677 - never assuming the reins over Albemarle County. His Governorship was in name only and also only for a few months.

Click Here for what little is known about the Executive Council under Governor Thomas Eastchurch.
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