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Edward Major

Member From: 1645 - 1653

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  • Birth Date: 1615 Birth Place:
  • Death Date: ca. 1655
  • Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
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  • Bio: EDWARD MAJOR was Speaker of the House of Burgesses at the first assembly of 1652, which imminently followed Virginia's surrender to the authority of Parlaiment. Major had represented Upper Norfolk County in the assembly of 1645-1646, and Nansemond (as the county was renamed) in the assembly of 1646. He was not again reelected to the House of Burgesses until April 1652, when he was chosen as Speaker. Major was not present at the November 1652 assembly, at which Nansemond County burgess Thomas Drew was elected Speaker, but served in the House of Burgesses for the last time in 1653.
    Edward Major, of Nansemond, was born I England in 1615 and had come to Virginia on the Bonaventure in January 1635. He lived briefly in Charles City (later York) County, where in 1635he witnessed a deed for Captain John Utie, of Utimaria, and soon after settled near the Nansemond River. On 18 May 1637 Major patented 450 acres on the river adjoining the land of Daniel Gookin, a puritan member of the assembly of 1640. He added another 50 acres in 1646, patented 300 acres in Warwick in September 1645, and owned land in York County that his son William, who died in 1677, inherited.
    Speaker major evidently was one of many puritan settlers that the Benett family brought to Virginia, and his Nansemond home was situated in the stronghold of Virginia's puritans. Major's absence from the assembly between 1647 and 1652 suggests that he may have accompanied Richard Bennett to establish the puritan providence settlement in Maryland in 1648. Major was for many years a justice of the peace for Nansemond County and a prominent member of the county militia. Governor Richard Bennett named him Lieutenant colonel in 1653. Major's election as Speaker coincided with Bennett's election as governor and general puritan ascendancy in Virginian politics. Governor Bennett had represented Parliament in March 1652, and he and his brother Robert (who had listed Major as a headright seventeen years before) were majors neighbors and close friends. James Branch Cabell suggested that the Major and Bennett's families were connected, and further, that Governor Bennett's attempt to prevent the election of Walter Chiles as Speaker of the House in 1653 was intended to help Major regain the chair. Speaker Edward Major died during the winter of 1654-1655. His will, dated 17 November 1652, was recorded in Nansemond County in February 1655.
  • Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1652
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1645-1646 Upper Norfolk
1646 Nansemond
1652 Apr Nansemond Speaker of the House
1653 Nansemond

*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 history@house.virginia.gov.

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