Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Andros, Edmund

ANDROS, Sir EDMUND (1637–1714), colonial governor, was the second son of a Guernsey gentleman belonging to Charles I's household. He was appointed gentleman in ordinary to the Queen of Bohemia in 1660, served in the regiment of foot sent to America in 1666, was major in Rupert's dragoons in 1672, and succeeded his father as bailiff of Guernsey in 1674. The same year he was appointed by James, duke of York, to be governor of the province of New York, which had been granted to the duke by Charles II. In 1678 he was knighted. He was engaged in some disputes with the authorities of the neighbouring colonies, and in 1681 was recalled to England. On the accession of James II to the throne, Andros was appointed governor of the various colonies consolidated to form the dominion of New England, which, included all the English North American settlements, except Pennsylvania, between Maryland and Canada. In this position Andros made himself very unpopular with the colonists by his energy in carrying out James's instructions. Acting under the king's directions, he proclaimed liberty of conscience, put restrictions on the freedom of the press, and appointed a general council, by whose advice he was to carry on all government and legislation. It was James's policy and that of his able deputy to break down the power of the puritan oligarchies wihich ruled in the New England provinces, and to weld them into one strongly governed state such as should be able to show a firm front to the encroachments of the French. The charters of Massachusetts and the other colonies were revoked. There is a well-known story to the effect that Andros appeared in he council-chamber at Hartford at the head of an armed guard, and demanded the charter of Connecticut, which could not be found, as it had been concealed in the famous 'Charter Oak.' It is probable, however, that Andros really did get possession of the charter, and that only a duplicate was concealed. Even greater resentment was aroused by his interference with the settlers' lands, and his attempts to collect rents from them. All this time he was constantly engaged in successful military operations against the Indians, and in repressing the pirates who were the scourge of the New England coast. His unpopularity, however, continued to increase; and on 18 April 1689 the people of Boston suddenly seized the governor with some of his subordinates and imprisoned them. Sir Edmund was sent over to England, with a committee of accusers, to be put on his trial, but was examined by the lords of the committee for trade and plantations, and released without being formally tried. In July 1692 he returned to America as governor of Virginia. Here he encouraged education, founded William and Mary College, promoted manufactures and agriculture, and made himself generally popular. He, however, quarrelled with the colonial church authorities, and through the influence of Dr. Blair, the Bishop of London's commissary in Virginia, was recalled in 1698. In 1704 he was appointed governor of Jersey, which office he held till 1706. The remainder of his life seems to have been passed in London, where he died 27 Feb. 1713-14, and was buried at St. Anne's, Soho. Andros was an active and capable administrator, and scarcely deserves the evil reputation which his unpopular government left behind him in New England.

[Whitmore, The Andros Tracts, with notes and a memoir of Sir Edmuud Andros, Boston, 1868; A Narrative of the Proceedings of Sir Edmund Andros, Boston, 1691 and 1773; Collections of the Massachusetts Hist. Soc. 3rd series, vii. 150; Brodhead, The Government of Sir Edmund Andros in New England, Morrisania, 1867; Brodhead's History of New York; Index to O'Callaghan's New York Colonial Documents: Palfrey's History of New England, iii. 127, &c.]

S. J. L.