Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wingfield, Edward Maria

WINGFIELD, EDWARD MARIA (fl. 1600), colonist, born about 1560, was the son of Thomas-Maria Wingfield of Stoneley, Huntingdonshire, who married a lady named Kerrye of a Yorkshire family. He was grandson of Sir Richard Wingfield (1469?–1525) [q. v.] of Kimbolton Castle, lord deputy of Calais. Thomas was the son of Sir Richard Wingfield, and was godson of Cardinal Pole and Queen Mary, whence the second christian name, Maria, which survived in the family for several generations.

Edward served in Ireland and in the Low Countries, and was one of those to whom the original patent of Virginia was granted on 10 April 1606. He alone among those patentees whose names are mentioned in the instrument sailed with the first party of colonists on New Year's day 1607 [see Smith, John, 1580–1631]. The list of the council was sealed up, to be opened after landing. Wingfield was among its members, and on 13 May was elected president. On 27 May, while leading an exploring party, Wingfield was ‘shot clean through his beard’ by an Indian, but escaped unhurt. He soon fell out with his colleagues, and on 10 Sept. 1607 was deposed. Soon after this he was sued by John Smith and another of the party for slander, the case was tried by the council and Wingfield was cast in heavy damages. Although a good soldier and an honourable man, Wingfield seems to have been wholly unfitted for his post. He was evidently self-confident, pompous, and puffed up by a sense of his own superior birth and position, unable to co-operate with common men and unfit to rule them. Moreover, as the Spanish government was known to be bitterly hostile to the colony and to be plotting against it, those interested in the undertaking were naturally distrustful of a Roman catholic. In April 1608 Wingfield returned to England. He appears to have been living, unmarried, at Stoneley in Huntingdonshire in 1613.

Wingfield wrote a pamphlet entitled ‘A Discourse of Virginia.’ This was a complete account of the proceedings of the colonists in Virginia from June 1607 till Wingfield's departure. It is in the form of a journal, but is in all probability an amplification of a rough diary kept at the time. Though cited by Purchas in the second edition of his ‘Pilgrimes’ (1614, p. 757), the work remained in manuscript till it was discovered in the Lambeth Library by the Rev. James Anderson, author of the ‘History of the Church of England in the Colonies.’ The discovery was made between the publication of the first edition of Anderson's ‘History’ in 1845 and that of the second in 1856. The manuscript was then edited by Dr. Charles Deane, the New England antiquary, and published in the ‘Archæologia Americana’ (1860, iv. 67–163), a hundred copies being also issued separately on large paper.

[Wingfield pedigree in the Visitation of Huntingdonshire, ed. Ellis (Camd. Soc.) 1849, p. 112; Lord Powerscourt's Muniments of the Ancient Family of Wingfield, 1894, pp. 5, 7; Wingfield's own Discourse; Smith's History of Virginia; Cal. State Papers, Colonial, Amer., and West Indies, i. 5, 6; Brown's Genesis of the United States; Winsor's Hist. of America, iii. 155; Neill's English Colonisation in America, chap. i.]

J. A. D.