Nathaniel Basse (bap. 1589–1654)

Nathaniel Basse was an English colonist who represented Warrosquyoake in the House of Burgesses (1624, 1625, 1628, 1629) and served on the governor's Council. The length of his service on the Council is unknown, but he is named as a member on documents dated December 20, 1631, and February 21, 1632. He came to Virginia in March 1619 with Christopher Lawne. In 1621 he received a grant of 300 acres of land; his settlement, Basse's Choice, was among the first English settlements in Isle of Wight County. Knowledge of his personal and family life is obscured by a lack of documentation, but tradition holds that he may have been the father of John Bass, who married a member of the Nansemond tribe in 1638 and from whom the Bass family of lower Tidewater Virginia is descended. However, a deposition recorded in England on August 30, 1654, states that Basse died without issue. MORE...

 

Basse was the second of twelve sons and second of eighteen children of Humphrey Basse and Mary Buschier Basse. His mother was of Italian descent, and his father was a prosperous London girdler of French ancestry who invested in the Virginia Company of London. Basse was probably born in London and was christened there in the parish of Saint Gabriel Fenchurch on December 19, 1589.

Basse first arrived in Virginia, so far as is known, in March 1619 with Christopher Lawne and other colonists associated in the settlement of Warrosquyoake Plantation in what is now Isle of Wight County. During 1620 Basse returned to England and obtained from the Virginia Company a confirmation of the patent to Warrosquyoake in November of that year. The company reconfirmed this patent in January 1622. In November 1621 Basse received a separate patent in his own name for a 300-acre tract a short distance west of Warrosquyoake on the east side of the Pagan River that has been called Basse's Choice ever since. He returned to Virginia on the Furtherance about August or September 1622, after the Powhatan uprising on March 22, 1622, when, according to John Smith's Generall Historie, the Indians "had fired Lieutenant Basse his house, with all the rest there about, slaine the people, and so left that Plantation."

Basse represented Warrosquyoake in the General Assembly sessions of February and March 1624, May 1625, March 1628, and October 1629. In June 1625 he signed a petition requesting Charles I to preserve the General Assembly as a fixture of the new royal government of the colony. Soon after arriving in Virginia late in March 1630, Governor Sir John Harvey appointed Basse to the governor's Council. The length of his service is unknown, but he is named as a member on documents dated December 20, 1631, and February 21, 1632. On March 6, 1632, Harvey commissioned Basse "to trade between 34 and 31 degrees North Latitude and to go to New England, Nova Scotia, or the West Indie Islands with instructions to invite the inhabitants hither if any so inclined," and sometime the same month Basse became presiding justice of the court of Warrosquyoake.

Extant records do not indicate whether Basse traveled to the other English colonies as directed, or whether he ever returned to England. He probably either remained in Virginia or returned to the colony following the voyages. The dearth of documentation also obscures much of Basse's personal and family life. Tradition has it that he married Mary Jordan in London on May 21, 1613, that the third son of their ten sons and three daughters married a member of the Nansemond tribe in 1638, and that the Bass family of lower Tidewater Virginia is descended from this son. However, a deposition in England on behalf of his three surviving sisters, identified as his coheirs, asserted that he had died in Virginia without issue, an assertion borne out by a suit brought by Theodorick Bland against William Drummond, attorney of Basse's coheirs, and settled in 1658. Nathaniel Basse died, probably in Virginia, sometime before this August 30, 1654, deposition was taken.

Time Line

  • December 19, 1589 - Nathaniel Basse, the second of eighteen children born to Humphrey Basse and Mary Buschier Basse, is christened in the parish of Saint Gabriel Fenchurch in London.
  • May 21, 1613 - Tradition holds that Nathaniel Basse and Mary Jordan were married on this day in London.
  • March 1619 - Nathaniel Basse arrives in Virginia with Christopher Lawne and other colonists associated in the settlement of Warrosquyoake Plantation in what is now Isle of Wight County.
  • 1620 - Nathaniel Basse travels from Virginia to England to obtain from the Virginia Company a confirmation of the patent to Warrosquyoake.
  • November 1621 - Nathaniel Basse receives a patent in his name for a 300-acre tract of land a short distance west of Warrosquyoake on the east side of the Pagan River. It becomes known as Basse's Choice.
  • August or September 1622 - Nathaniel Basse returns to Virginia on the Furtherance.
  • February–March 1624 - Nathaniel Basse represents Warrosquyoake in the General Assembly.
  • May 1625 - Nathaniel Basse represents Warrosquyoake in the General Assembly.
  • June 1625 - Nathaniel Basse signs a petition requesting that Charles I preserve the General Assembly as a fixture of the new royal government of the colony.
  • March 1628 - Nathaniel Basse represents Warrosquyoake in the General Assembly.
  • October 1629 - Nathaniel Basse represents Warrosquyoake in the General Assembly.
  • ca. 1630–1632 - Nathaniel Basse serves on the governor's Council.
  • March 1632 - Nathaniel Basse becomes presiding justice of the court of Warrosquyoake.
  • March 6, 1632 - Governor Sir John Harvey commissions Nathaniel Basse "to trade between 34 and 41 degrees North Latitude and to go to New England, Nova Scotia, or the West Indie Islands with instructions to invite the inhabitants hither if any so inclined."
  • August 14, 1638 - John Bass, who may be the son of Nathaniel Basse and Mary Jordan Basse, marries Elizabeth, a Nansemond woman who has converted to Christianity.
  • August 30, 1654 - A deposition in England on behalf of the three surviving sisters of Nathaniel Basse, identified as his coheirs, asserts that Basse died in Virginia without issue.
Further Reading
Gentry, Daphne. "Basse, Nathaniel." In Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 1, edited by John T. Kneebone et al., 382–383. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Gentry, D., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Nathaniel Basse (bap. 1589–1654). (2014, May 30). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Basse_Nathaniel_bap_1589-1654.

  • MLA Citation:

    Gentry, Daphne and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Nathaniel Basse (bap. 1589–1654)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 30 May. 2014. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: February 27, 2013 | Last modified: May 30, 2014