Baron Botetourt

Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt

Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt (1718 – October 15, 1770) was a British noble and a governor of the Virginia Colony from 1768 to 1770.

Life

Before coming to Virginia he was (as Norborne Berkeley) Member of Parliament for Gloucestershire 1741-1763. He then obtained his peerage, when it was called out of abeyance in 1764, the third holder of the title having died in 1406.

Lord Botetourt resided in the Governor's Palace on Duke of Gloucester Street, now a major attraction of Colonial Williamsburg in the Historic Triangle. Although a popular governor, Lord Botetourt served only two years. Also during his time as governor, he was a member of the Board of Visitors of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and had an illegitimate son, Charles Thompson. He died suddenly while still in office in 1770 and was buried in the crypt under the Chapel in the Wren Building at William and Mary.

Tale of Two Statues

A statue of Lord Botetourt was placed in the Capitol in Williamsburg in 1773. The Capital of Colonial Virginia was located in Williamsburg from 1699 until 1780, but at the urging of Governor Thomas Jefferson, was moved to Richmond for security reasons during the American Revolution.

The statue of Lord Botetourt was acquired by the College of William and Mary and moved to the campus from the former Capitol building in 1801. Barring a brief period during the Civil War when it was moved to the Public Asylum for safety, it stood in the College Yard until 1958 when it was removed for protection from the elements, and then installed in the new Earl Gregg Swem Library in 1966 in the new Botetourt Gallery. In 1993, as the College celebrated its Tercentenary (300th anniversary), a new statue of Lord Botetourt, created in bronze by William and Mary alumnus, Gordon Kray, was installed in the College Yard in front of the Wren Building, in the place occupied for so many years by the original.

Named for Him

Botetourt County, Virginia, was named in Lord Botetourt's honour. Historians also believe that Berkeley County, West Virginia, and the town of Berkeley Springs, both now in West Virginia, were also named in his honour, or possibly that of another popular colonial governor, Sir William Berkeley.

Lord Botetourt High School in the unincorporated town of Daleville in Botetourt County, Virginia is also named in his honour.

Also, the Botetourt Dorm Complex at The College of William and Mary is named in honour of Lord Botetourt.

References

  • The House of Commons 1754-1790, by Sir Lewis Namier and John Brooke (HMSO 1964)

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