Major General Alexander Spottiswoode
- Born: 1676, Tangiers, Morocco
- Marriage: Ann Butler
- Died: 7 Jun 1740, Annapolis, Maryland at age 64
The Virginian historian, Charles Campbell, a descendant of Governor Spotswood, says: "He was bred in the army from his childhood, served with distinction under the Duke of Marlborough, and in 1710 was appointed Governor of Virginia. Being a master of the military art, he kept the militia under excellent discipline. In 1716 he made the first complete discovery of a passage over the Blue Ridge mountains. He urged upon the British Government the policy of establishing a chain of posts beyond the Alleghanies, from the lakes to the Mississippi, to restrain the encroachments of the French. He reduced to submission the Indian tribes, and, blending humanity with vigor, taught them that while he could chastise their insolence, he commiserated their fate. He took measures to extend the advantages of a Christian education to the Indian children. He was a proficient in mathematics, and well skilled in architecture. He rebuilt the College Of William and Mary. He was styled the Tubal Cain of Virginia, and was, indeed, the pioneer of iron manufacture in North America. Salmon, during the last century, says: "Governor Spotswood improved the colony beyond imagination; his conduct produced wonders, and it was the happiness of Virginia that his administration was of a longer duration than usual, whereby he had an opportunity of putting in practice the prudent schemes he had laid."
Governor Spotswood left in manuscript a historical account of Virginia during his administration, thus affording an unbroken line of five generations of authors bearing the same name, a fact which, as far as I am informed, stands alone in the whole field of literature. Although a Whig in politics, he was a High Churchman, and had high notions of governmental prerogatives; but a long residence in Virginia, and the identity of his interests with those of the Virginians, appear to have greatly changed his views of governmental authority and popular rights. During the year 1724 Governor Spotswood married Ann Butler, daughter of Richard Bryan, Esq., of Westminster. She derived her middle name from James Butler, Duke of Ormond, her relative and godfather. The Governor now resided at Germana. It was here that Colonel William Byrd, of Westover, visited the Governor in 1732. I give the following extract from Colonel Byrd's journal:
"September 27. -- Here I arrived about 3 o'clock, and found only Mrs. Spotswood at home, who received her old acquaintance with many a gracious smile. I was carried into a room elegantly set off with pier glasses, the largest of which came soon after to an odd misfortune. Amongst other favorite animals that cheered this lady's solitude a brace of tame deer ran familiarly about the house, and one of them came to stare at me as a stranger. But, unluckily, seeing his own figure in the glass he made a spring over the tea table that stood under it and shattered the glass to pieces, and falling back upon the tea table made a terrible fracas among the china. This exploit was so sudden, and accompanied with such a noise, that it surprised me and perfectly frightened Mrs. Spotswood. But it was worth all the damage to show the moderation and good humor with which she bore this disaster. In the evening the noble Colonel came home from his mines, who saluted me very civilly, and Mrs. Spotswood's sister, Miss Thecky, who had been to meet him en cavalier, was so kind, too, as to bid me welcome. We talked over a legend of old stories, supped about nine, and then prattled with the ladies till it was time for a traveler to retire. In the meantime I observed my old friend to be very uxorious, and exceedingly fond of his children. This was so opposite to the maxims he used to preach up before he was married, that I could not forbear rubbing up the memory of them. But he gave a good natured turn to his change of sentiments by alleging that whoever brings a poor gentlewoman into so solitary a place, from all her friends and acquaintance, would be ungrateful not to use her and all that belongs to her with all possible tenderness."
In 1739 Spotswood was made Deputy Postmaster General for the colonies. He promoted Benjamin Franklin to be postmaster for the province of Pennsylvania. Being commissioned Major General, and on the eve of embarking at the head of an expedition fitted out by the English against Carthegena, in South America, Spotswood died at Annapolis, Maryland, June 7, 1740. Governor Spotswood and Ann Butler, his wife, had four children: (1) John, (2) Ann Catherine, (3) Dorathea, (4) Robert.
(1) John married (1745) Mary, daughter of William Dondridge, Esq., of Elson Green, King William, Va., a captain in the British navy
(3) Dorathea married (1747) Colonel Nathaniel West Dandridge, a full brother of her sister in law, Mrs. John Spotswood. Mrs. Dorathea Dandridge died in 1773, in the forty sixth year of her age.
(4) Robert was a subaltern officer under Washington. In 1756, while with a scouting party, he was killed near Fort du Quesne.
Alexander married Ann Butler. (Ann Butler was born about 1680.)