Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Dunmore, John Murray

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DUNMORE, John Murray, Earl, royal governor of Virginia, b. in 1732; d. in Ramsgate, England, in May, 1809. He was descended, in the female line, from the house of Stuart; succeeded to the peerage in 1756; was appointed governor of New York in 1770, and of Virginia in July, 1771. On his arrival at Williamsburg in 1772 he dissolved the Virginia assembly; and in May, 1774, he again dissolved the same body, because it resolved to keep the first of June, the day for closing the port of Boston, as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. On the following April, Lord Dunmore caused the removal of the powder from the magazine at Williamsburg, on board an English ship. This incensed the people, and they took arms under Patrick Henry. Lord Dunmore, becoming alarmed at this action, convened the council, but nothing changed Henry's purpose. Lady Dunmore was sent on board the “Fowey” man-of-war, and the governor issued a proclamation against “a certain Patrick Henry” and his “deluded followers,” but upon the receipt of the news from Lexington he fled to Fort Johnston, sending his wife to New York. In 1776, when the British army arrived in New York, Lord Dunmore was joined by a few loyalists, and carried on a petty warfare, plundering the inhabitants on the James and York rivers, and carrying off their slaves. On 9 Dec. his followers suffered a severe defeat at the battle of Great Bridge, and shortly afterward he burned Norfolk, then the most populous and flourishing town of Virginia. He was afterward obliged to take refuge on board his fleet, which was driven by well-placed batteries from one place to another, till he anchored near the mouth of the Potomac. Continuing his predatory warfare, he established himself early in June on Gwynn island, in the Chesapeake, there vainly awaiting aid, but was dislodged by the Virginians in July, being wounded in the leg. Washington said, in December, 1775, “I do not think that forcing his lordship on shipboard is sufficient. Nothing less than depriving him of life or liberty will secure peace to Virginia, as motives of resentment actuate his conduct to a degree equal to the total destruction of that colony.” Lord Dunmore with his fleet of fugitives continued during a part of 1776 on the coasts and rivers of Virginia, but, after various distressing adventures, he burned the smaller vessels, and sent the remainder to the West Indies. In 1779 his name appears in the confiscation act of New York. He returned to England, and in 1786 was appointed governor of the Bermudas. — His wife, Elizabeth, d. at Southwood house, near Ramsgate, England, in 1818, was the daughter of the Earl of Galloway.