The Virginia Gazette

Today in the 1770s: October 18

WILLIAMSBURG, October 18, 1770.
On Monday the 15 instant, about one o'clock in the morning, departed this life, mournfully lamented throughout this colony, his Excellency the Right Hon. Norbourne Baron de Botetourt, his Majesty's Lieutenant, Governour General and Commander in Chief of the colony and dominion of Virginia, and Vice Admiral of the same. Truly and justly to express the many great virtues and amiable qualities which adorned this noble Lord, as well in his publick as private character, would demand the skill of the ablest penman. Suffice it then to inform such parts of the world as were strangers to his transcendent merits that Virginia, in his fall, sorely laments the loss of the best of Governours and the best of men. Let his distant relations and friends be told that we have all anticipated, and shall, to the latest period, share their griefs and deep afflictions, and that we condole with them, with the warmth of the most tender affection.

Virginia Gazette (Purdie & Dixon) October 18, 1770

About this entry:

The tone of this obituary speaks to Governor Botetourt's popularity and conciliatory skills that temporarily reduced the friction between Virginia and the crown. Following an elaborate funeral, his body was interred below the chapel at The College of William & Mary, an instituion he supported by endowing a medal to be awarded for academic excellence. This prestigious award continues to be awarded today. As a measure of the esteem felt for Governor Botetourt, the General Assembly authorized funds in 1771 to erect a statue in his memory. The statue originally was placed on the piazza of the Capitol, was eventually moved to the yard in front of the Wren Building at the college, and now stands in the rotunda at the Swem Library of the college.

Sources: Bullock, H.

Brought to you by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation