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Sir Thomas Dale

Posted: 961904127000
Edited: 1007399289000
Sir Thomas Dale

Peter ten Arve
Vaughn Baker


I started to study about Sir Thomas Dale many years ago in an attempt to learn more about my own ancestor, John Baker, who was recorded at the 1624 muster on the Eastern Shore of Virginia on the "Company Land" at Dales Gift. I was shocked at how little was known about Dale, and naively decided to "right that wrong" by gathering information in England and organizing this information into a manuscript. Subsequently, I learned that the leadership of this entire period had really been shortchanged in a historical sense, primarily because of the lack of available information.

In a trip to London, I was able to find volumes of notes about the DaleÂ’s of England, including Thomas DaleÂ’s marriage in 1611, and notes of his will written in 1617. Although volumes of cryptic notes had been accumulated on the Dales of England over the last century, VirginiaÂ’s Thomas Dale received no other mention. With so few clues, I was forced to study the people around Dale; like fellow governors Sir Thomas Gates and Lord de la Warr, as well as his wife Elizabeth Throckmorton. We were able to collect a great deal of information about Lady Dale.

On a subsequent business trip to Holland, I was fortunate to meet Peter ten Arve, an official of the Rotterdam Port Authority, who happened to enjoy reading about the late 1500s, and was also a student of old handwriting. Peter and I went to Oudewater where both Sir Thomas Dale and Sir Thomas Gates supposedly served together in the year 1603. We enjoyed a Dutch beer in front of the administration building that had already been a local landmark when Dale and Gates were in Holland. Peter agreed to spend some time in the Dutch archives where the military records of that period are maintained.

There were several questions that had greatly bothered us in our research. Dale is portrayed as the typical arrogant landed lord of that period. Clearly he ruled Virginia in a strong, even cruel, manner, pushing around some men who did have rank, and adopting cruel tools of torture used in European inquisitions to enforce discipline. Correspondence proves that he was clearly on friendly terms with the King of England, the future King of England, the King of France, and Prince Maurice of Holland. Yet Dale had no titles, no pedigree. He even told us in a letter written in 1616 that he started in the army as a soldier, not officer. How did Dale gain these contacts with so many major European leaders?

Before he went to Virginia, Dale was the Captain of a company of English soldiers. Although the Dutch reimbursed him, generally this was an expensive undertaking to muster ninety to one hundred men, transport them to Holland, and maintain them year after year. He had to have come from a wealthy merchant family, or had a powerful and wealthy mentor.

In our research, we uncovered some new questions. Sir Thomas Dale and Sir Thomas Gates both had their career salaries paid by the Dutch, including the years they spent in Virginia. No one has been able to help us understand this, but certainly it is not part of our current historical understanding of that period. Peter learned that the Dutch had maintained records of the English soldiers who had helped them against the Spanish. The English were not particularly great soldiers, and in fact the Dutch complained about them because they frequently sent their ranks on other raids when they were supposed to be in Holland defending the Dutch.

We did not find much more about Thomas Dale than earlier researchers, but were able to confirm some of their earlier assumptions. We were able to reconstruct and summarize more information about the English military in Holland that we hope may prove useful to historians in our other work. Previous researchers have hinted at links between Thomas Dale and Dr. Valentine Dale, one time ambassador to France. Others have associated Dale with Roger and William Dale of Northamptonshire, and others have suggested he had roots in Devonshire.

Lady Throckmorton Dr Valentine Dale Matthew Dale Thomas Gates Thomas West Earl of Essex
Roanoke Voyages Sidney Family Connections Grays Inn Favorite Theory A Map

I did stumble across several new tidbits of information in London. Two years before Dale married Elizabeth Throckmorton, a John Dale gave testimony at Clearwell Manor in behalf of a Thomas Baynum. Baynum was her brother's father-in-law, and her brother inherited the manor at Clearwell. In that testimony, John Dale said he was the son of an Edward Dale. When we investigated this immediate area in Gloucester, we found a single entry of an Edward Dale who married Mary Somerset. The Somerset's lived about ten miles west of Clearwell, and William Somerset, the 3rd Earl of Worcester was married to Christian North, the daughter of the first Baron North. Her nephew, the 3rd Lord North, was married to the daughter of Dr. Valentine Dale. The North's were from Cambridgeshire, just adjacent to the counties of Northampton and Rutland. Roger North, the brother of Christian North, had also served as the English Ambassador to France. In addition, Roger North had ties via his wife, the daughter of the first Lord Rich, to the Earl of Essex and Sir Thomas Smythe.

We also located a Dale family at Castle Morton in Worcester, twenty miles north of Clearwell, where an Edward Dale was born. Edward had a brother named Thomas born in 1565, almost the exact date of birth we estimated for our Thomas Dale. Their father was John Dale (Will 1594) who was the cooper at this castle in Worcestershire.

We also found another Edward Dale, son of Thomas Dale of Alford (D1578), whose mother was Anne Hamby of Malley. A Richard Hamby was one of the two men mentioned to receive the Thomas Dale land in Virginia. Alford was in Lincolnshire and the homeplace of the more famous Captain John Smith, President of the Virginia Company in the year 1609.

Back to Worcester, several miles south of Castle Morton, even closer to Clearwell Manor, was the Record of a Roger Dale of Tewkesbury who was married to a Mary Dale of Devon, possibly a cousin. Although these facts all seemed to be relevant and interesting, We were never able to take this any further.

1588 Thomas Dale became a soldier, and went to the Low Countries to assist the Dutch Protestants to overthrow their Spanish occupiers. He was probably not part of LeicesterÂ’s build-up, the period 1585-1587, but among the troops that were to immediately follow. In 1588 in total, the English claimed to have 5,000 troops in the Low Countries. The Dutch complained that in truth, only half were present while those that remained were on raids against the Spanish including Portugal. The English leadership was then under the control of Lord Willoughby of Parham who was renting the castle of Orford from a Thomas Seckford. Valentine Dale witnessed the Thomas Seckford will in 1587 as they both served on Queen ElizabethÂ’s staff. Willoughby was also the personal sponsor of orphan John Smith of Alford, future governor of Virginia.
1588 The English navy defeated the Spanish Armada. A John Dale was master of the ship Minion, a two hundred-ton ship with ninety men but no guns.
1589 The Second Earl of Essex joined General Norris on the raid on Lisbon, Portugal.
1590 Queen Elizabeth requested that Sir Roger Williams lead six hundred English troops to Rouen, France to assist King Henry IV of France. The English soldiers generally received their first experience in Holland before being sent to France, and Norris drew his troops from there. Possibly, Dale was part of this contingent as he and the King of France developed a relationship.
1591 - 1593 Queen Elizabeth later asked the Second Earl of Essex to take an additional 1000 men to join up with Williams and support Henry IV. It seems more likely that Dale would have been part of this contingent.
1591 Captain Thomas Gates is reported to have been among the English troops selected to participate in the Rouen offensive. Henry IV demonstrated tremendous personal bravery during this period, and Roger Williams and others appreciated the French King and strong ties were formed. We believe this is where Dale, Gates, and Henry IV became attached to both Henry IV and the Earl of Essex.
1594 Prince Henry was born, the son of King James of Scotland, and he later would become the Prince of Wales. It is reported that Thomas Dale joined the party of the infant prince to provide security. The Dutch sent an embassy to visit the young prince, but there was no record of them providing protection. It is at this time that the Second Earl of Essex started unauthorized communications with King James about succession, and it is quite possible that he could have assigned Dale to provide personal protection to the young child of the future King of England.
1596 Essex led a campaign against the Spanish at Cadiz. It was a major success, and he knighted many soldiers including Lord de la Warr and Captain Thomas Gates, both future Virginia Governors and friends of Dale. The future treasurer of the Virginia Company, Thomas Smythe, was also knighted.
1598 - 1599 The Second Earl of Essex was appointed Earl Marshall of England and all field commanders reported to him. Sometime in this period, Essex asked Thomas Dale to go to France to ask the Earl of Southampton to join Essex as his Lieutenant General in a major campaign against the Irish. We donÂ’t know if as a friend, or as a military messenger, but Southampton became one of the four overseers of the will of Thomas Dale in 1617. [Smythe and Southampton both overseers of DaleÂ’s will.]
1599 Thomas Dale was an officer in the vast army that Essex led to Ireland, and was reported as the commander of a garrison in Ireland, serving with fellow officer Sir Thomas Gates. Most other future Virginia governors also were involved in this campaign.
1601 Essex was beheaded for leading the Essex Rebellion. Many key figures were sent to the Tower of London, but Dale only lost his military command. He wrote his friend Robert Cecil that he would again like employment in the foreign wars. Previously to this, the Earl of Essex and Robert Cecil were the two most influential men in all of England; and Dale was apparently close to both men. Now Cecil was in complete power and access to Queen Elizabeth.
1601 The future Virginia leadership implicated or implied in EssexÂ’s Rebellion are Sir Thomas Smythe, President Edward Maria Wingfield, Governor Thomas Dale, Governor Thomas West, Lord de la Warr, investor Sir Edwin Sandys, investor the Earl of Southampton, investor William Herbert. Governors Thomas Gates, Samuel Argall, and President George Percy also served in Ireland with Essex but do not seem to have been tainted. GovernorsÂ’ John and Francis West were first cousins to Essex.
1603 The top military man of all English forces in the Low Countries, Sir Francis Vere, wrote and explained that he would make Thomas Dale Captain of an English Company if Dale would finance the expenses. The King of France also wrote a personal letter of recommendation for Dale and said that he would finance a company, only if Thomas Dale led it.
1603 In August, Captain Thomas DALI (Dale) was appointed provisional commander of a company to fill a vacant company commander spot, and by November he was appointed as permanent command over the regiment of a Captain Condegrave at the suggestion of Prince Maurice of Holland. Prince Maurice apparently made his decision because of the brave conduct of Thomas Dale at Fort de la Bella at sÂ’Hertogenbosch in August of that year. There was also mention of DaleÂ’s bravery at Damme, just north of Brugge in Flanders.
1604 - 1606 Captain Thomas Dale appears as one of the English captains in the yearly muster of English soldiers in Holland to support the Dutch.
1606 King James awarded the Letters of Patent Sir Thomas Gates, Sir Edward Maria Wingfield, Sir George Sommers, William Parker, and other gentlemen for the Virginia territory. Parker is believed to be the Mayor of Devon, and we think the same, or related to, William Parker in the Matthew Dale genealogy. Parker accompanied Dale to the East Indies.
1606 King James I of England knighted Thomas Dale as Sir Thomas Dale of Surrey. Dale apparently added Surrey to avoid confusion with other Thomas Dales. Valentine Dale had been Archdeacon of Surrey.
1606 Both Dale and Thomas Gates apparently were reported together at Oudewater Garrison in Holland. Apparently Gates returned to the Low Countries in 1603 with his young Lieutenant George Yeardley, whose family apparently were haberdashers. Yeardley would follow Dale as governor of Virginia.
1607 –1610 Captain Thomas Dale was paid 2,104 Guilders to maintain one hundred fifty men of the Zealand Company, and 1,297 Guilders to maintain ninety men of the Holland Company in 1609 and again in 1610.
1609 John Dale, son of Edward Dale, gave testimony at Clearwell, Gloucester for Thomas Baynum. Baynum was father-in-law of Baronet William Throckmorton, brother of Elizabeth Throckmorton, Thomas DaleÂ’s future wife. William Throckmorton was appointed as the fourth overseer of the will of Thomas Dale.
1611 On 20 January 1611, the States General in Holland confirmed that they have been personally requested by the Prince of Wales (on the very day that he was sworn Prince of Wales) to be released from their service and be granted a three year leave of absence. Dale had already served twenty-three years as a soldier.
1611 In February, Thomas Dale married Elizabeth Throckmorton, daughter of Thomas Throckmorton and Elizabeth Berkeley (of Stoke-Gifford). Dale had already established strong ties with some of the most powerful men in Europe at this point: Earl of Essex, Robert Cecil, Henry IV, Prince Maurice, and James I of England. His wife brought wealth and new powerful contacts into his life. Little did he know the problems this would bring! Dale was over forty years of age, so there is a strong possibility that this should be his second marriage.
1611 The following was signed on 25 February 1611:
"The Right Worshipful Sir Thomas Dale, Knight, Marshall of Virginia (being the first man of his Rank and Degree that hath undertaken that charge and place) hath not only adventured his person in that service in time of greatest difficulty but also being at a great charge both in furthering the action and furnishing himself, the Council of Virginia at there meeting on the 18th of this Instant (upon special trust and confidence that she hath begun soe he will proceed and continue in advancing soe Christian and noble an action) have with uniforme consent thought fit that verry Exterodinary consideration be now had oh him and such as in futer times shall by no means be drawn into president [precedent] upon any occasion whatsoever they therefore agree that his person should rated at the Summe of Seven hundred pounds and that he the said Sir Thomas Dale his heires Executors and Administrators or assignes shall have ratably according to the said Summe his and their full part of all such Lands Tenements ad hereditaments as shall from time to time be their recovered planted and inhabited and of such mines and minerals of gould and silver and other mettalls or treasure pearles precious stones or any kind of wares or merchandize, commodities or profits whatsoever which shall be obtained or gotten in the sailld Voyage in as ample manner as any other Adventurer therein shall peaceably receive for the like summe. Written this 25th of February Anno Domini 1611."

At the going rate, this would have entitled Dale to 5,600 acres in Virginia. Dales Gift, located on the eastern Shore in Northampton County, is commonly considered to be part of his land patent. The other was plantation. Commerce between these two locations was very active from 1620 to the 1650s.

1611 On 27 March 1611, Sir Thomas Dale, with three ships, departed under the command of his "companion in arms", Sir Thomas Gates, Governor of Virginia. Gates followed three months later with six more ships. Dale served in the position as High Marshall, and as an assistant to Gates. Lieutenant George Yeardley accompanied Gates and commanded his company of personal bodyguard. Dale ruled with the same kind of discipline expected in a military camp. Modern writers indicate that he was pompous and highhanded.
1612 Prince Henry, the Prince of Wales and next King of England, died. Dale called Henry, "my dear and glorious master". Prince Henry was also a childhood friend of the Third Earl of Essex, as well as the Fourth Lord North, Dudley North. Dudley was the grandson of Ambassador Valentine Dale.
1612 Sir Robert Cecil, Lord Salisbury, DaleÂ’s powerful friend died. However DaleÂ’s friend the Earl of Southampton has by this time become a powerful courtier of James I.
1614 Thomas Gates returned to England to help raise investment funds for the Virginia Company, and Sir Thomas Dale became Governor of Virginia. King James wrote a letter to the States General and requested a two year extension for Thomas Dale to remain in Virginia.
1615 Thomas Dale reported back to London that his wife (in England) has taken ill.
1616 Sir Thomas Dale returned to England bringing with him the Indian Princess, Pocahontas, who he had sponsored in this period to marry an Englishman and become a Christian. His chaplain, Reverend Alexander Whitaker, performed the baptism. WhitakerÂ’s father had been the Dean and personal tutor at the College of St. Johns, Cambridge University, for DaleÂ’s friend, the Earl of Southampton.
1616 - 1617 Thomas Dale spent a great deal of time in communicating with powerful friends as well as the States General in Holland. The issue initially was that Dale was to pay the States General for debts that had accrued during his absence. Dale did not even dare to visit Holland because he would be arrested for these debts. In the meantime, his wifeÂ’s family was attempting unsuccessfully to negotiate from the family debt. In this communication, he mentioned that he would have his brother deliver certain correspondence to the States General.
1617 On 20 February 1617, Sir Thomas Dale recorded his will, naming his wife as sole beneficiary. Overseers of his will were: (1) his brother-in-law, Baronet William Throckmorton, (2) Treasurer of the Virginia Company, and Executive in charge of the East Indies Company, Sir Thomas Smythe. (3) Major investor, most powerful courtier, and friend, the Third Earl of Southampton, and finally (4) Sir William Cooke. The previous year, William CookeÂ’s sister Elizabeth Dale of Whitechapel, was mentioned as the widow of John Dale. We cannot help but wonder if both were the children of John Cooke who had married the widow of the Lord of Tydworth?
1617 Thomas West, Lord de la Warr died at sea while sailing towards Virginia.
Finally, the deadlock in the Dale versus the States General was broken when Prince Maurice of Nassau reminded them in writing of DaleÂ’s military successes and support of the Dutch. DaleÂ’s lieutenant, Francis Willoughby, the 5th Lord Willoughby of Parham, was appointed to become Captain of his company. In turn, on 28 November 1617, Dale was appointed Admiral of the English East Indies Company. It appears that some kind of agreement was arranged where Dale agreed to hand over his company without problems to Francis Willoughby, a man for whom he did not respect. The back pay was funded by the States General, but Peter ten Arve learned that Dale was to be the last English Captain for which salary would be paid for periods of time when they were not under the direct control of the States General.
1618 Dale and a fleet of six ships left in April of 1618, and it took them over six months to sail from England to Indonesia. As a sidenote, Captain John Harvey, who would later become a Virginia Governor, was captain of one of the six ships in the fleet. Almost as soon as Dale arrived, he engaged the Dutch who held the English factor, Nathaniel Courthope, under siege after taking many prisoners. Dale engaged on December 23, 1618, and captured the Dutch ship, the de Zwaarte (the Black Lion), which was the flagship of the famous Dutch Governor, Jan Pieterson Coen. Dale laid siege to the Dutch port of Jakarta, but finally broke off and sailed back towards India. After thirty years of being in the pay of the Dutch, he captured the prize ship of their Dutch Governor!
1619 Skirmishes continued for the first half of 1619. In another siege on Jakarta on 19 July 1619, Dale contracted an illness and died at Masulipatam, an island off the east coast of India three weeks later on 9 August 1619. Some records claim that he was buried there, others that he was brought back to England.
1619 On July 23, while Dale was being taken back to India, a letter was dispatched from London to Thomas Dale advising him that he had been appointed the Admiral of the United East Indies Company; the English East Indies Company, and the Dutch Oost Indische Compagnie, which mission was to develop trade with China and destroy the local pirates.
The English and the Dutch had actually been fighting one another in the East Indies for control over that region. Meanwhile, Chinese pirates had been raiding each of their area trading centers. Dale made a good candidate to lead a joint battle group.

1621 By some accounts, Sir Thomas Gates followed Dale to the East Indies, and like his friend Dale, died there. Other accounts show his death occurring in the Low Countries. Perhaps the answer is a little of both, especially if Gates took command of the combined English / Dutch command.
1622 Entries in July of 1622 in the London will administrations mentions "Thomas Dale of parts beyond the seas to brother Richard Dale". We donÂ’t understand this unless Lady Dale was trying to get the estate of Thomas away from the Throckmorton creditors.
1624 The Earl of Southampton, an overseer of the Dale will, died at Breda-op-Zoom in Holland with wounds inflicted in the Low Countries. Nathaniel Littleton served Southampton, and would ten years later settle in Virginia near Dales Gift in Northampton.
1625 King James I took over the administration of the Virginia Company. The Virginia Company had been a stock held company made up of influential investors that was supposed to have provided revenues to the crown. The Indian massacre of 1622 provided the last straw for King James to take over the Virginia Company.
1625 King James I of England died.
1626 Sir Thomas Smythe, an overseer of the Dale will, died. Suddenly, Thomas DaleÂ’s powerful friends had all died. Sir George Yeardley, the Virginia Governor, was in a weakened position. Lady Dale did still have some influential family members at court.
1633 In June of 1633, the year after Lady Dale had been served in Virginia courts, another London will administration; "Thomas Dale of parts beyond the seas to Thomas Burnett, principal creditor".
1640 London records indicate that Dame Elizabeth Dale of Middlesex died in 1639, and the will was presented in 1640. However, her will was dated 4 July 1640. She mentioned niece Dorthea Trogmorton (Throckmorton) should receive five hundred acres in Charles County, and other lands to Edward Hanby, son of Richard Hanby. Richard Hanby to receive lands in SHIRLEY, servant Hanna Pickering to receive one hundred pounds, and the children of brother William Throckmorton to receive land. Nephew Lord Viscount Scudamore and friend William Samborne were also mentioned as well as friend William Shrimpton. It indicated that Lady Dale was of the Parish of St. Margaret in Westminister in Middlesex, adjacent to Westminister Cathedral.
1645 Virginia records indicate William Shrimpton, Gentleman of White Church in Southampton, "as being the sole survivor of sole Executor of dame Elizabeth Dale, and due unto her as being the sole Executrix of Sir Thomas Dale to whom it was due by bill of adventure into this colony". He was claiming the right for 1,000 acres. Whitchurch in Southampton is nine miles east of South Tidworth (Tydworth) which was the home of William Dale, Lord of South Tydworth, whose widow had married Charles Berkeley of Stoke-Gifford (BERKELEY PLANTATION clan), and whose widowed daughter-in-law had married a John Cooke. Ambassador Valentine Dale probably also came from the Dales of South Tydworth.
Interesting enough, Virginia Governor, Thomas West, Lord de la Warr, of SHIRLEY Plantation was born in 1657 less than seven miles south and between Whitchurch and South Tydworth. This happens to be the year we believe Sir Thomas Dale was born. West was first cousin to the Second Earl of Essex.

Peter ten Arve

Vaughn Baker
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