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Sir Ferdinando Gorges (1565–1647), the "Father of English Colonization in North America"[1], was an early English colonial entrepreneur and founder of the Province of Maine in 1622, although Gorges himself never set foot in the New World.

Gorges was born in Ashton Phillips, Somerset, England. In 1601, he became involved in the Essex Conspiracy and later testified against its leader, Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.

In 1605, he helped sponsor the expedition of George Weymouth to the mouth of the Kennebec River along the coast of the present day state of Maine in the United States. In 1607, as a shareholder in the Plymouth Company, he helped fund the failed Popham Colony, near present-day Phippsburg, Maine.

In 1622, Gorges received a land patent, along with John Mason, from the Plymouth Council for New England for the Province of Maine, the original boundaries of which were between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers. In 1629, he and Mason divided the colony, with Mason's portion south of the Piscataqua River becoming the Province of New Hampshire. Gorges and his nephew established Maine's first court system.

Capt. Christopher Levett, early English explorer of the New England Coast, was an agent for Gorges, as well as a member for the crown's Plymouth Council for New England.[2] Levett's attempt to establish a colony in Maine ultimately failed, and he died aboard ship returning to England after meeting with Governor John Winthrop in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.

Ferdinando Gorges's son was Robert Gorges, Governor-General of New England from 1623–1624. But Robert Gorges was seen with some suspicion by American colonists, who were skeptical of Gorges' almost feudal idea of governance and settlement, and ultimately Gorges returned to England.

Ferdinando Gorges died a destitute man in 1647. Maine later fell under the control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and 173 years later achieved statehood in 1820.


  1. ^ John Franklin Jameson, Henry Eldridge Bourne, Robert Livingston Schuyler, The American historical review, Volume 4:P683
  2. ^ York Deeds, Maine Historical Society, Maine Genealogical Society, John T. Hull, Portland, 1887

See also


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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