Andros, Sir Edmund 1637–1714

Descendent of a distinguished family from the English Channel island of Guernsey, Sir Edmund Andros was born in December 1637. He served under four English monarchs before his retirement from public service in 1706. From 1674 through 1698, Andros served as governor of New York, then of the short-lived Dominion of New England, and finally of Virginia. Andros was an able and experienced administrator who sought to impose greater Crown control over the colonies and the burgeoning English empire. He constantly found himself at odds with colonists who viewed his measures as arbitrary and hostile to colonial interests. On four separate occasions, colonists from New York (1680 and 1689), Massachusetts (1689), and Virginia (1698) rebelled against Andros’s heavy-handed governance. Prior to 1675, Andros gained administrative experience by holding offices on Guernsey and military experience as an officer in various colonial regiments. In 1675, James Stuart, duke of York, appointed Andros governor of New York, formerly the Dutch colony of New Netherland. Andros’s military and administrative experience made him an ideal candidate to govern a colony only recently seized from the Dutch and still exposed to threats from the French and their native allies. As governor, Andros helped forge an alliance, called the Covenant Chain, between the English and the powerful Iroquois of upstate New York. Andros governed New York’s European population by creating an oligarchic council dependent on economic privileges conferred by him. When excluded Dutch and English leaders protested, Andros had them arrested and confiscated their property. Andros’s actions, though approved by the duke of York, smacked of arbitrary and despotic government. When the duke of York became King James II in 1685, he moved to consolidate the Crown’s control over the colonies, increase its colonial revenues, and better provide for colonial defense against France and Native American nations by creating the Dominion of New England. James II appointed Andros governor-general of this new colony, stretching from Maine to the Delaware River. The Dominion of New England, which incorporated the New England colonies, New York, and New Jersey into a single government, stripped the Northern colonies of their charters and their elected assemblies. The dominion also placed all power in the hands of Andros, his lieutenant governor, and appointed councils. Andros’s actions immediately produced protests from the colonists he governed. Andros’s strict enforcement of the Navigation Acts upset New England merchants. Andros then outraged other New Englanders when he began to challenge the legitimacy of land titles issued by New England towns under the old colonial charters. To further weaken Puritan dominance of the local and colonial governments, Andros and James II replaced Puritan officials such as judges and sheriffs with non-Puritans loyal to him. He also limited town meetings to one session per year, prohibited towns from using tax money to pay ministers’ salaries, and forced Boston to give up one of its Puritan churches to the Anglican Church. To pay for his excessive salary of 1,200 pounds, along with his officials’ salaries, Andros levied heavy taxes, which a majority of his own council opposed. In 1687, when leading men from the town of Ipswich, Massachusetts, protested Andros’s arbitrary rule, he promptly arrested the men, had them tried before an unsympathetic jury (picked by an Andros-appointed sheriff), and then jailed them. In New York, the heavyhanded administration of Andros and his deputy governor, Francis Nicholson, outraged New Yorkers, too. By the spring of 1689, rumors that William of Orange and his wife, Mary, had claimed the throne abdicated by James II began to reach New York and Boston. Andros and Nicholson responded by imprisoning men who brought news of the Glorious Revolution to the colonies. In April, Andros was in Boston, but his main body of troops was in Maine waging war against the Abenakis. On April 18, 1689, Boston and its surrounding towns rose in rebellion against Andros. Within hours, 2,000 or so militia members streamed into Boston in a carefully coordinated uprising led by Puritans. The rebellion leaders promptly arrested and jailed Andros along with twenty-five of his officials. Andros spent nine months in a Boston jail before colonial officials shipped him to England to face charges that he had abused his authority. In April 1690, a privy council exonerated Andros of the charges the Massachusetts government had brought against him. In 1692, King William III appointed Andros captain general and governor-in-chief of Virginia. Almost immediately, Andros clashed with powerful men in Virginia. In 1697, leading Virginians traveled to London and charged Andros with abusing his power. Facing recall, Andros resigned and returned to London. After serving as lieutenant governor of Guernsey, Andros retired from public life in 1706. He spent the remainder of his life in London until he passed away in February 1714. John Craig Hammond See also: Boston; New England, Dominion of; Politics and Government (Chronology); Politics and Government (Essay); Document: Commission of Sir Edmund Andros for the Dominion of New England (1688). Bibliography Johnson, Richard R. “The Revolution of 1688 9 in the American Colonies.” In The Anglo-Dutch Moment: Essays on the Glorious Revolution and Its World Impact, edited by Jonathan I. Israel. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Lovejoy, David S. The Glorious Revolution in America. New York: Harper and Row, 1972. Webb, Stephen Saunders. “The Trials of Edmund Andros.” In The Human Dimensions of Nation Making: Essays on Colonial and Revolutionary America, edited by James Kirby Martin. Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin, 1976. Illustrated portrait of British Colonial Administrator Sir Edmund … What Was the Dominion of New England? History of Massachusetts Sir Edmund Andros Stock Photos & Sir Edmund Andros Stock Images …

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