Archdale, John (DNB01)

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ARCHDALE, JOHN (fl. 1664–1707), governor of North Carolina, was son of Thomas Archdale, and grandson of Richard Archdale, a London merchant, who in 1628 acquired the manors of Temple Wycombe and Loakes in Buckinghamshire (Visit. London, i. 24; Lipscomb, Buckinghamshire, iii. 640). Several members of the family were educated at Wadham College, Oxford, but John does not appear to have been at any university. His eldest sister had married Ferdinando Gorges, grandson of Sir Ferdinando Gorges [q. v.], and in the autumn of 1664 Archdale accompanied his brother-in-law to New England to make good the latter’s claim to the governorship of Maine (Cal. State Papers, Amer. and West Indies, 1661–8, Nos. 868, 921, 1549). He carried with him a letter from Charles II, requiring the administrators to hand over to Archdale the government or to show cause to the contrary. Archdale’s request was refused, and he appealed to the commissioners, by whose intervention Gorges seems eventually to have made good his claim (cf. ib. 1669–74, Nos. 150, 750). Early in 1674 Archdale returned to England, bringing with him Gorges’s report on Maine, which he presented to the council. In England he openly identified himself with the newly formed body of quakers.

In 1686 Archdale visited North Carolina, and a letter written by him to George Fox from Carolina in March is printed in Hawks’s ‘History of North Carolina.’ In 1687–8 he was acting as commissioner for Gorges in the government of Maine. He had become one of the proprietors of North Carolina, and in 1695 he was appointed governor of that colony. His administration is said to have been singularly successful. ‘He improved the military system, opened friendly communications with the Indians and Spaniards, discouraged the inhumanities of the former so effectually as to induce them to renounce the practice of plundering ship-wrecked vessels and murdering their crews; and combined with singular felicity the firm requisites of the governor with the gentle and simple benevolence of the quaker’ (W. G. Simms, South Carolina, p. 72). His quaker proclivities induced him to exempt Friends from service in the colonial militia. He also introduced the culture of rice into the colony, and on relinquishing the government in 1697 he received the thanks of the colony for his services—a recognition that had not been accorded to any previous governor.

Soon after his return to England Archdale was, on 21 July 1698, elected member of parliament for Chipping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. He had allowed himself to be nominated ‘without his own seeking’ by the church party in opposition to the Marquis of Wharton’s nominee (Off. Return, i. 579; Luttrell, Brief Relation, pp. 467, 469; Macaulay, ii. 692), and his election was a blow to the junto. But on 7 Jan. 1698–9, having ‘had the advice of lawyers that his affirmation would stand good instead of an oath,’ he refused to swear. After a debate the House of Commons decided against him, a fresh writ was issued, and on 21 Jan. a Thomas Archdale (possibly his son; cf. Gardiner, Reg. of Wadham, i. 374) was elected in his place.

Archdale took no further part in politics, but in 1707 he published his ‘New Description of that fertile and pleasant Province of Carolina … with several remarkable passages of Divine Providence during my time’ (London, 4to). It was reprinted at Charleston in 1822 from a copy in Charleston Library, ‘supposed to be the only copy extant,’ but there is another in the British Museum Library. It is also reprinted in R. R. Carroll’s ‘Historical Collections on Carolina,’ New York, 1836.

[Archdale’s New Description, 1707; Cal. State Papers, Amer. and West Indies; Smith’s Cat. Friends’ Books, p. 123; Hewatt’s South Carolina; Holmes’s American Annals; Bancroft’s History of the United States; Hutchinson’s Collection of Papers, pp. 385–8 ; Commons’ Journals; Mr. John Ward Dean in Notes and Queries, 4th ser. vi. 382; Appleton’s Cyclopædia of American Biography.]

A. F. P.