Berkeley, Sir William

, a native of London, was the youngest son of sir Maurice Berkeley, and brother of John lord Berkeley of Stratton. He was elected probationer fellow of Merton college, Oxford, in 1625, and four years after was admitted M. A. In 1630, he set out on his travels, where he seems to have acquired that knowledge which fitted him for public business, and on his return, became gentleman of the privy-chamber to Charles I. In 1646, he went on some commission to Virginia, of which province he had afterwards the government. He invited many of the royalists to retire thither as a place of security, and hinted in a letter to king Charles I. that it would not be an unfit place as a retreat for his majesty depending, perhaps, more upon the improbability of its being attacked, than on its means of defence. Virginia, however, was not long a place of safety; the parliament sent some ships with a small force, who took possession of the province without difficulty, and removed sir William Berkeley from the government, but suffered him to remain unmolested upon his private estate. In 1660, on the death of colonel Matthews, in consideration of his services, particularly in defending the English from being killed by the natives, and in destroying great numbers of the Indians without losing three of his own men, he was again made governor, and continued in that office until 1676, when, he returned to England, after an absence of thirty years. He died the following year, and was buried July 13, in the parish church of Twickenham. His writings are, “The Lost Lady,” a tragi-comedy, Lond. 1639, foil, and, as the editor of the Biog. Dram, thinks, another play called “Cornelia,1662, not printed, but ascribed to a “sir William Bartley.” He wrote also a | Description of Virginia,” fol. In Francis Moryson’s edition of “The Laws of Virginia,” Lond. 1662, fol. the preface informs us that sir William was the author of the best of them. 1

1 Ath. Ox. II. 586. Biog. Dram. Lysons’s Environs, vol. III.