Open main menu

SAYLE, WILLIAM (d. 1671), colonist, first appeared as a councillor in the Bermudas in 1630. On 15 Sept. 1641 he was appointed governor. He vacated the office in 1642, but was reappointed in 1643, and again, with two colleagues, in 1644. When the troubles of the mother country extended to the colony, Sayle contrived to embroil himself with each party successively. In 1647 he was suspected of attempting to subvert the government of the Bermudas in the interests of the commonwealth. He was one of those who in 1646 had obtained a grant of one of the Bahama Islands. To this they gave the name of Eleutheria, and designed it for the seat of a puritan colony. When Sayle went thither is uncertain. He returned thence to the Bermudas in 1657, and was reappointed governor of the Bermudas on 30 June 1658. He was soon afterwards charged with endeavouring to break up the older colony for the benefit of Eleutheria.

In October 1662 Sayle was removed from the governorship of the Bermudas. In 1670 he was chosen by the proprietors of Carolina in the place of Sir John Yeamans, as governor of a colony which they intended to found near the mouth of the river Pedee, and which resulted in the foundation of Charlestown, the nucleus of the colony of South Carolina. It is evident from the letters written by Sayle's associates that he was aged and infirm, and that they thought poorly of his mental powers; but he had an able assistant in Joseph West, who had brought the colonists from England. Sayle's will, extant in the Bermudas, is dated 30 Sept. 1670, and he died, old and infirm, on 4 March 1671. There is a somewhat indistinct tradition that he discovered some of the Bahama groups, before unknown, during a voyage between the Bermudas and Carolina in 1667. If so, he may, before his appointment as governor of the colony on the Pedee, have had some connection with the earlier settlement on the Albemarle river, founded by puritans from Virginia, and adopted by the proprietors of Carolina.

[Lefroy's Memorials of the Bermudas; State Papers, Colonial Ser. ed. by W. Noel Sainsbury; Winthrop's Hist. of New England, ii. 335; Winsor's Hist. of America, v. 307.]

J. A. D.