Colony of Virginia

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Colony of Virginia
Colony of England (1607–1707)
Colony of Great Britain (1707–1776)

Flag Coat of arms
En dat Virginia quintum
(Latin, “Virginia gives the fifth”)[1]
Capital Jamestown (1607–1699)
Williamsburg (1699–1776)
Languages English, Siouan languages, Iroquoian languages, Algonquian languages
Religion Anglicanism
Government Constitutional monarchy
 • 1760–1776 George III (last)
 • 1607 Edward Wingfield (first)
 • 1771–1775 Lord Dunmore (last)
Legislature House of Burgesses (1619–1776)
 • Founding 1607
 • Began Royal Colony
 • Independence 1776
Currency Pound sterling
Today part of  United States

The Colony of Virginia (also known frequently as the Virginia Colony, the Province of Virginia, and occasionally as the Dominion and Colony of Virginia or Most Ancient Colloney and Dominion of Virginia[citation needed]) was the first English colony in the world. American archaeologist William Kelso says Virginia “is where the British Empire began,… this was the first colony in the British Empire.”[2] The colony existed briefly during the 16th century, and then continuously from 1607 until the American Revolution (as a British colony after 1707[3]). The name Virginia was first applied by Sir Walter Raleigh and Queen Elizabeth I in 1584. After the English Civil War in the mid 17th century, the Virginia Colony was nicknamed “The Old Dominion” by King Charles II for its perceived loyalty to the English monarchy during the era of the Commonwealth of England.

In 1607, members of a joint venture called the Virginia Company founded Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America on the banks of the James River. Famine, disease and conflict with local Native American tribes (the Powhatan Confederacy) in the first two years brought Jamestown to the brink of failure before the arrival of a new group of settlers and supplies in 1610. Tobacco became Virginia’s first profitable export, the production of which had a significant impact on the society and settlement patterns. In 1624, the Virginia Company’s charter was revoked by King James I and the Virginia Colony was transferred to royal authority as a crown colony.

From 1619 to 1776, the legislature of the Virginia was the House of Burgesses, which governed in conjunction with a colonial governor. Jamestown remained the capital of the Virginia colony until 1699; from 1699 until its dissolution the capital was in Williamsburg. It experienced its first major political turmoil with Bacon’s Rebellion of 1676.

After declaring independence from Great Britain in 1775 before the Declaration of Independence was officially adopted, the Virginia Colony became the Commonwealth of Virginia, one of the original thirteen states of the United States, adopting as its official slogan “The Old Dominion”. After the United States was formed, the entire states of West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois, and portions of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania were all later created from the territory encompassed earlier by the Colony of Virginia.

Names and etymology


The name “Virginia” is the oldest designation for English claims in North America. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent Philip Amadas and Arthur Barlowe to explore what is now the North Carolina coast, and they returned with word of a regional king (weroance) named Wingina, who ruled a land supposedly called Wingandacoa. The latter word may have inspired the Queen to name the colony “Virginia”, noting her status as the “Virgin Queen.”[4][5] On the next voyage, Raleigh was to learn that, while the chief of the Secotans was indeed called Wingina, the expression wingandacoa heard by the English upon arrival actually meant “What good clothes you wear!” in Carolina Algonquian, and was not the name of the country as previously misunderstood.[6]

Initially, the term “Virginia” was applied to the entire eastern coast of North America from the 34th parallel (near Cape Fear) north to the 48th parallel, including the shorelines of Acadia and a large portion of inland Canada.[citation needed]

Old Dominion

In gratitude for Virginians’ loyalty to the crown during the English Civil War, Charles II gave it the title of “Old Dominion”;[citation needed] Virginia maintains “Old Dominion” as its state nickname. Accordingly, the University of Virginia’s athletic teams use “Cavaliers” as one of their nicknames, and Virginia has named one of its other state public universities “Old Dominion University“.


Although Spain, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands all had competing claims to the region, none of these prevented the English from becoming the first European power to colonize successfully the Mid-Atlantic coastline. Earlier attempts had been made by the Spanish in what is now Georgia (San Miguel de Gualdape, 1526–27; several Spanish missions in Georgia between 1568 and 1684), South Carolina (Santa Elena, 1566–87), North Carolina (Joara, 1567–68) and Virginia (Ajacán Mission, 1570–71); and by the French in South Carolina (Charlesfort, 1562–63). Farther south, the Spanish colony of Spanish Florida, centered on St. Augustine, was established in 1565, while to the north, the French were esta


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