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Edmund/Edmond Scarborough/Scarbrough

Member From: 1630 - 1648

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  • Birth Date: ca. 1617 Birth Place:
  • Death Date: 1671
  • Gender: Male Race: Caucasian
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  • Bio: EDMUND SCARBOROUGH (or Scarburgh) was Speaker of the House of Burgesses at the Assembly of 165-1646. A wealthy man, Scarborough was a colorful figure in Eastern Shore affairs. Speaker Scarborough's father had come to Virginia about 1621, settled on the Eastern Shore late 1620s, served in the Assembly in th 1630s, and died in 1635. Speaker Scarborough represented Northampton County in the assemblies of 1643, 1645, 1645-1646, 1647-1648, and April 1652, remained out of office for several years after Virginia's surrender to Parlaiment and was elected again for Northampton County from 1661 to March 1662 in the assembly of 1661-1676 and Accomack County from October 1666 to 1670. His brother, Sir Charles Scarborough, studied medicine and lectured at Cambridge until the beginning of the English Civil War, when he went to Merton College, Oxford. A founding member of the Royal Society, fellow of the College of Physicians, and a staunch royalist, Sir Charles Scarborough later served as Physician to Charles II and James II. Edmund shared his brother's political sentiments, and, barred from civil office in 1653 for his support of the Northampton protest, he remained out of the assembly until 1656.
    Edmund Scarborough's stature as a merchant is suggested y the number of ships he owned in 1652, the names of which are known because Scarborough ran afoul with the law. Scarborough owned the Seahorse (in which he traded with New Netherlands), the Deliverance (a twenty-on bark worth £50), the May Flower (a bark worth £120), the King David (a galliot worth £180), the Hobby Horse, the Ann Clear, the Artillery (which he owned in partnership with Edward Gibbons, of Boston Massachusetts), and an identified shallop valued at £20. When governor Bennet ordered Scarborough arrested in 1653 for selling arms and ammunition to the Indians, his property in the colony was sequestered, although he successfully fled. Finally, the assembly of 1655 found him innocent of "all charges and crimes made against him for matter of trade and etc."
    On 28 November 1635 Scarborough had patented 400 acres in Accomack County, and during the next quarter century he continued to amass land under the headright system at the rate of 50 acres for each immigrant he brought to Virginia: one such patent in 1651 was for 3,600 acres, another in 1656 claimed 3,500 for transporting seventy persons, forty-one of them slaves. He became the largest landowner on the Eastern Shore, having acquired by the 1660s some 30,000 acres, and he also owned the county's largest flock of sheep, 174 head in 1660.
    Trade and manufacturing figured prominently in Scarborough economic activity. He imported slaves in the 1650s, probably through New Netherlands, and oversaw the operation of his fleet of merchant vessels. Scarborough invested in a salt works, with which he hoped to provide salt for the whole Eastern Shore population. The General Assembly in 1663 granted him a monopoly for salt production there, but he could not produce all that was needed, and in 1666 he assented to the repeal of e act that forbade importation of salt. Scarborough also had a tannery and shoemaking industry that employed nine shoemakers by 1662.
    Scarborough's character was reminiscent of a swashbuckling Elizabethan, and his treatment on various occasions of Indians, Marylanders, Dutch, and Quakers ranged from aggressive to reprehensible. In April 1644, for example, some five hundred Virginians were killed in Indian attacks directed by Chief Opechancanough. That June Scarborough was named an officer for Northampton's retaliatory forces. Possibly, in the aftermath of the Indian attack and in the absence of Edward Hill, Sr., who had been Speaker of the House in 1644 and 1645, Scarborough's military reputation made him an attractive candidate for the Speaker's chair at the assembly of 1645-1646.
    The Eastern Shore Indians called Scarborough the Conjurer. On one occasion he is said to have had informed an Eastern Shore tribe that the Great Spirit would speak to them at a deep ditch on a Sunday morning. Scarborough, the story goes, placed a cannon at the other end of the ditch, and when the Indians came parley to the spirit "Preached so forcefully that few hearers remained alive after his introductory remarks." In April 1650 Scarborough led a body of fifty Northampton County men to capture or kill the king of the Pocomoke Indians: Scarborough's force 'shot at the Indians, slashed them, cut their bows, took Indians prisoners, [and] bound one of them with a chain." Scarborough's illegal attack raised the prospect of Indian retaliation, and the governor and Council prosecuted Scarborough and his company offered a payment of Roanoke wampum and ten weeding hoes to appease the Indians. Scarbrough later was found cleared of wrongdoing, and in 1659 and 1660 he led an expedition, this time with the colony's full sanction, against the Assategues along the Virginia-Maryland boundary on the Eastern Shore.
    As early as 1640 Scarborough had been active as a surveyor, and he was named surveyor general f the colony in 1655, after Thomas Loveinge died. Scarborough , too, hld the office to his death. Scarborough was chosen in 1663 to mark the boundary line between Virginia and Maryland. They year before, he had outwitted William Waters, who had represented Northampton County, by drawing the boundary between Accomack and Northampton counties to give Accomack twice as much acreage as its southern neighbor (the subsequent dispute over the county line was not settled until March 1688). The assembly in September 1663 probably hoped that Scarborough would bargain as sharply when it sent him to confer with Lord Baltimore's representatives. In the Marylanders' absence Scarborough marked the boundary to Virginia's advantage by some 30 miles, which not only prolonged the boundary dispute between the two colonies but also defined the geographical limit of Virginia to include a recently established settlement of Quakers. Scarborough upheld orthodoxy and the law and tried to establish Virginias boundary claim in his characteristic manner. Acting under authority of "an act prohibiting the unlawful assembling of Quakers" passed by the General Assembly in 1663, Scarborough, accompanied by forty horsemen "for pomp of Safety," proclaimed he assembly's commands and demanded that the Quakers f the border area give their allegiance to Virignia; many refused and had their property confiscated. Having represented Northampton County in the assembly in 1661 and 1662, by October 1666 Scarborough had been reelected to the House of Burgesses by Accomack County. He served he assembly through the October 1670 session, the last before his death in 1671.
  • Other Notable Service and/or Elected Offices: Speaker of the House of Burgesses: 1645-46
Session District District Number Party Leadership Committees
1630 Accomack
1632 Feb Accomack
1633 Accomack
1643 Northampton
1645 Northampton
1645-1646 Northampton Speaker of the House
1647-1648 Northampton

*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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