BERKELEY, NORBORNE. (1717?–1770). Royal governor of Virginia. Born in England, perhaps in 1717, Norborne Berkeley (who claimed the title of Baron de Botetourt) was a member of Parliament who requested a lucrative appointment from the Crown in order to make good his gambling debts. In 1768 he was appointed governor of Virginia. His tenure was notable for its ceremonial aspects. Determined to impress the colonists into submission, Botetourt arrived to take up his post in resplendent costume, borne in a magnificent coach pulled by a team of cream-white Hanoverian horses. When the House of Burgesses condemned Parliament's tax policies, Botetourt dissolved the assembly. The assembly responded by meeting in a tavern the next day and resolving to boycott English goods. At the election for a new assembly, Botetourt was frustrated to find that only those who supported him had failed to be re-elected. Switching to a policy of appeasement, Botetourt called on the colonial secretary, Willis Hill, the first lord of Hillsborough, to allow the colonies to tax themselves for Britain's benefit. He received the colonial secretary's promise that this would be permitted, but soon learned that Lord Hillsborough was lying to him. Outraged, Botetourt requested his own recall. Before he could be relieved of duty, Botetourt died in Williamsburg, Virginia, on 15 October 1770.
revised by Michael Bellesiles