Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Spottiswood, Alexander

SPOTTISWOOD or SPOTSWOOD, ALEXANDER (1676–1740), colonial governor, born at Tangier in 1676, was the only son of Robert Spotswood and his wife Catherine Elliott. His father was physician to the governor and garrison of Tangier, and third son of Sir Robert Spottiswood [q. v.], secretary for Scotland. Alexander became an ensign in the Earl of Bath's regiment of foot on 20 May 1693, obtained a lieutenancy on 1 Jan. 1696, and rose to be captain before 1704. He was wounded at Blenheim, and obtained a lieutenant-colonel's commission. In 1710 he was appointed lieutenant-governor of Virginia under the nominal governor, George Hamilton, first earl of Orkney [q. v.] He showed himself a conspicuously energetic administrator, labouring for the good of the colony in divers ways. He rebuilt the college of William and Mary, and took measures for the conversion and instruction of Indian children. He was the first to explore the Appalachian mountains in 1716. He dealt resolutely with the enemies of the colony, capturing and putting to death the famous pirate Edward Teach [q. v.], and holding in check the Indians on the frontier. In 1722 he held a conference with the five nations, and by his diplomacy the Tuscaroras, who were threatening the Carolinas, were disappointed of support.

As was usual with the colonial assemblies, the legislature of Virginia were backward in finding funds for the governor's undertakings against the Indians, and disputes resulted. Spotswood also in 1719 entangled himself in a difficulty with the crown as to the right of presentation to benefices in Virginia. This led to his supersession in 1722. He continued to live in the colony, holding a large landed estate on the Rapidan river in the county of Spotsylvania, where, about 1716, he founded the town of Germanna, carried on extensive ironworks, and cultivated vines. In 1730 he was appointed deputy postmaster for the colonies. In 1740 he received his commission as major-general, and was engaged in collecting forces for the expedition against Carthagena when, in June 1740, he died. In the state library of Virginia there are two portraits of Spotswood, and another is preserved at Sedley Lodge, Orange County, Virginia.

He married, in 1724, Ann Butler, daughter of Richard Bryan and goddaughter of James Butler, duke of Ormonde, and left two sons and two daughters.

[Genealogy of the Spotswood family by Charles Campbell, Albany, 1868; Official Letters of Alexander Spotswood, published by the Virginia Historical Society, 1882; Winsor's History of America, vol. v.; Dalton's Army Lists, iii. 317.]

J. A. D.