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Member From: 1643 - 1643
- Birth Date: unknown Birth Place:unknown
- Death Date: 1652
- Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
- Military Service:
- Occupation/Profession: Merchant and shipowner
- Bio: THOMAS STEGG was Speaker of the House of Burgesses at the assembly of 1643, the first at which the burgesses organized themselves in a formal body separate from the Council. A prominent merchant and shipowner, Stegg divided his time between Virginia and London. Described in 1638 as one of "the ablest merchants in the Colony," he invested with William Claiborne and other n the trading settlement at Kent Island; served as factor for Maurice Thompson, a London merchant; and owned more than 600 acres at Westover, in Charles City County, at his death.
Stegg was a member of the Council in 1642 and last was present on 1 August of that year; he evidently resigned at the end of the quarter session. Circumstances suggest that Stegg left the Council in order to be eligible for election to the House of Burgesses at the assembly of 1643. Charles City County elected him to the assembly, which convened on 2 March 1643, and he was chosen speaker of the Huse of Burgesses. Although membership records for the 1630s are incomplete, Stegg is not known to have been a burgess prior to 1643, and he was never again elected. He returned to the Council about 1647, was present during meetings in March and September 1648, and was continued as a councilor in the commission to governor William Berkeley that Charles II issued from Breda in June 1650.
During the English Civil War, however, Stegg supported Parliament against the king. In summer 1644 at Boston, having unloaded most of a cargo of wine from the Canary Islands, Stegg suddenly weighed anchor and brought his twenty-four-gun ship abreast of the Mary, a 100 ton merchantman from the royalist port of Bristol laden with fish destined for Bilbao, Spain. Stegg summoned the Mary's master aboard his vessel, showed him a commission from Lord high Admiral Robert Rich, Second earl of Warwick, for the capture of royalist vessels, and demanded that he surrender the Mary. Stegg promised to allow the master and his crew "what belonged to them and their wages to that day." Then, "turning up the half hour glass," he released the Bristol master to return "his answer by that time of half an hour." "two or three would have fought, and rather have blown up their ship than have yielded," John Winthrop reported in his journal, "but the greater part prevailed, so she was quietly taken." A large crowd had gathered "upon Windmill hill to see the issue, and some who had interest in the ship, especially one Bristol Merchant, (a very bold malignant person), began to gather company and raise a tumult," Winthrop recalled. After the crowd was dispersed, the deputy governor wrote Stegg "to know by what authority he had done it in our harbor, who forthwith repaired to him with his commission." After long and deliberate debates, the Bay Colony leaders eventually resolved that, out of respect for Parliament, they would not challenge Stegg's Ccommission or his actions. They "permitted him to carry away they said shipp."
Steggs allegiance to Parliament was clear from his incident, as well as from his business connections with Michael Sparke, an ardent puritan citizen and stationer of London and Maurice Thompson, a principle architect of Parliament's commercial policy during the commonwealth and protectorate. Indeed, Stegg died while in service to Parliament. On 26 September 1651 Parliament appointed Stegg, William Claiborne, Richard Bennett, Robert Dennis, and Edmund Curtis as commissioners t Secure Virginia's and Maryland's surrender and "due obedience tp the Commonwealth of England." Claiborne and Bennet sailed with Curtis, who commanded the Guinea, and successfully arranged Virginia's peaceful surrender on 12 March 1652. Stegg had sailed with Captain Dennis aboard the John and died at sea. His will, dated 6 October 1651, was written aboard the ship and proved July 1652.
- Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices:
Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1643
Member of the Council of State: 1642; 1647 - 1652
|Charles City County
|Speaker of the House
*The information within this interactive and searchable application has been researched extensively by the House Clerk’s Office. As with any historical records of this age and breadth, there may be discrepancies and/or inconsistencies within records obtained from a variety of credible sources. Any feedback is encouraged at firstname.lastname@example.org.