Explore By:

 Please turn your device to landscape view for wide tables like those below.

Thomas Ballard

Member From: 1666 - 1686

Member image
  • Birth Date: 1630 Birth Place:
  • Death Date: March, 1690
  • Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
  • Spouse: Anna
  • Children: Thomas
  • Religion: Vestryman, Bruton Parish: 1683
  • Education:
  • Military Service:
  • Occupation/Profession:
  • Bio: THOMAS BALLARD was Speaker of the House at the assembly of 1680-1682. Born in 1630 and baptized in 1636 at Inkborough, Worcestershire, Ballard had come to Virginia prior to 1652 and settled in York County, where he served as county clerk from July 1652, or earlier, to March 1663, or slightly later. Speaker Ballard had moved to James City County before 1666, when he represented the county in the House of Burgesses.
    Speaker Ballard had patented several tracts of land in the 1650s, most of which he had sold when he moved to James City County, although well into the 1670s he continued to acquire and sell land. In 1675, for example, he sold a large plantation at Henrico to Nathaniel Bacon,Jr., who had not fully paid Ballard when he died in 1676. In 1675 Ballard bought 330 acres at Middle Plantation that his son Thomas (1655-1710) sold in 1693 to become the site for the College of William and Mary. Speaker Ballard's many activities in business, at the bar, on the county court, and as a councillor kept him close to Jamestown and his friend Governor Sir William Berkeley. In 1666 Ballard accompanied Speaker Robert Wynne and others to Maryland to seek a cessation of tobacco planting, and he sat on committees "to regulate the price of Ordinary Keepers" and to advise Governor Berkeley in the choice of the colony's agent in England.
    Speaker Ballard was prominent in local affairs. He had been high sheriff in 1674, and he presided over the James City County Court and commanded the county militia during his tenure as Speaker. As a vestryman of Bruton Parish he witnessed the completion of the parish's first brick church in November 1683. In June 1670 Ballard was appointed to the Council, an office he held until summer 1677 when Lieutenant Governor Herbert Jeffreys suspended him as ''a Fellow of a Turbulent mutinous Spirit.''
    Early in the troubled year of 1676 Governor Berkeley listed Speaker Ballard and three other councillors as ''al I have left to assist me.'' Ballard attempted to moderate the aging governor's reaction to Bacon and to flex with popular demands rather than forfeit chances for conciliation. In June 1676, when Bacon had not yet become an outright rebel, Ballard was instrumental in arranging a short-lived reconciliation based on Bacon's repentance and Berkeley's forgiveness. Ballard and the Council also pushed Berkeley into giving Bacon a commission to fight Indians. The postrebellion royal commissioners reported that "severell of the councell and assembley members were concerned and acted in the promoting [of] this designe, en­couraging others to list themselves into Bacon's service, and particularly one Ballard, who endeavored to persuade some (who scrupled the Legality of Bacon's commission) that it was fairly and freely granted . . . this Ballard being one of the councill, and of those that both tooke and administered Bacon's Oath.''
    The last fact is indisputable; after Governor Berkeley had fled to the Eastern Shore in July, Bacon had held a meeting at Middle Plantation, near Ballard's home. Many gentlemen whose property and safety seemed threatened responded to Bacon's call and attended. On 3 August after much debate, in which Bacon revealed a casuistic readiness to allow signers to state oral exceptions, Ballard and others signed the oath. He and other councillors also signed papers advising Bacon to call an assembly and to conduct an election. These facts later were useful to Lieutenant Governor Herbert Jeffreys in his struggle against the Berkeley loyalists. Bacon, however, knew Ballard's real sentiments. In his 30 July proclamation he had described Ballard as Berkeley's "wicked and pernitious Counsellor." In September Bacon chose Anna Ballard and other councillors' wives to stand in the line of fire to protect his forces at Jamestown. After the rebellion Ballard sat on the courts-martial that condemned many rebels to death, although he absented himself from the trial of Giles Bland.
    The signatures on Bacon's oath were indelible fact, however, to be dredged up when Ballard and the Green Spring faction came into conflict with Lieutenant Governor Herbert Jeffreys. Ballard, Jeffreys wrote in June 1677, was "a Fellow of a Turbulent mutinous Spirit, yet one that Knowes how to bee (at every turne) as humble low and penitent as Insolent and Rebellious, and is for these Virtues called by Sir William Berkeley his Mary Magdalene, But was before Bacons chiefe Trumpett, Parasite Subscriber, Taker [and] Giver of his unlawful Oath, and an Emminent abetter of the late Rebellion, who . . , I have found very just Cause of Suspending him at present both from the Councill and Collectorship here.''
    The seeming intrusion of the postrebellion commissioners and Jeffreys, and later of Governors Culpeper and Effingham, into Virginia's affairs soon gave tremendous popularity to the old Berkeley loyalists. In 1679 news arrived that English authorities had formally excluded Philip Ludwell, Sr., and Thomas Ballard from the Council. The other councillors persuaded Culpeper to reinstate Ludwell, and the House of Burgesses responded by electing Thomas Ballard, who represented Jamestown, to its highest office.
    Speaker Ballard presided over the assembly of 1680-1682, which began in earnest the struggle against Governor Culpeper. At the next assembly the burgesses chose another member of the Green Spring faction, Edward Hill, Jr., as Speaker, but Ballard continued to play an active role in the House. After serving for the last time in the assembly of 1685-1686, he apparently retired from public affairs except to bring suit against Nathaniel Bacon's confiscated estate for payment for the land that, after Bacon's death, had been confiscated. He sought the balance due from Bacon's original purchase, but nothing is known about the disposition of the case. Ballard died at his home at Middle Plantation (the site of which seems to have been east of the College of William and Mary at the western end of Francis Street) and was buried on 24 March 1690.
  • Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: York County Clerk: 1652 - 1663
    High sheriff of James City County: 1674
    Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1680-82
    Member of the Council of State: 1670 - 1677
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1661-1676 James City County
1680-1682 Speaker of the House
1684 James City County Propositions and Grievances (Chair)
1685-1686 James City County Propositions and Grievances (Chair)

*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.

Search What's This?

Advanced Search