During that time Berkeley may have worked as an iron manufacturer, perhaps in collaboration with his Poyntz relatives. His experience in iron smelting and forging brought him to the attention of the Virginia Company of London in 1621. A major goal for the colony of Virginia had been the establishment of a productive and profitable ironworks. Even after the expenditure of more than £4,000 sterling and the sending of more than 150 workmen to Virginia, that hope had not been realized, and the most recent ironmaster, Benjamin Bluett, had been murdered within months of his arrival. In a May 1621 contract similar to that offered Bluett, Berkeley agreed that he would provide twenty skilled men to serve the company for seven years in exchange for a grant of 800 acres of land, £50 to cover his expenses, and free transportation and support for his team for one year. Berkeley's party, including his eldest son, Maurice Berkeley, and three family servants, sailed from the Isle of Wight for Virginia about June 25, 1621.
Maurice Berkeley, who had been placed in charge of the colony's saltworks in January 1622, survived because he was not at Falling Creek when the Indians attacked. In August 1622 he took charge of the few remaining ironworkers. In January 1623 the Council was considering reinforcing the defenses of the ironworks, but because of the loss of so many of the principal workmen the plan was not put into effect. Shortly afterward Maurice Berkeley returned to England, where in November 1623 his petition to be released from the remainder of his seven-year term of service to the company was granted. The loss of the ironworks, for which John Berkeley had expressed high hopes and in which as much as £5,000 had by then been invested, was one of the financial disasters that soon thereafter reduced the Virginia Company to bankruptcy.
ca. 1560 - John Berkeley is born probably at his family's estate, Beverstone Castle in Gloucester, England. He is the only son of Sir John Berkeley and his first wife, Frances Poyntz Berkeley.
November 6, 1582 - John Berkeley marries Mary Snell at Kington Saint Michael in Wiltshire. They will have six sons and four daughters.
1597 - John Berkeley sells his family estate, Beverstone Castle, to a cousin, following the decline of the family fortunes.
May 1621 - John Berkeley's experience in iron smelting and forging brings him to the attention of the Virginia Company of London and Berkeley agrees to provide twenty skilled men to serve the company for seven years in exchange for a grant of 800 acres of land, £50 to cover his expenses, and free transportation and support for his team for one year.
June 25, 1621 - John Berkeley, his eldest son, and three family servants sail from the Isle of Wight for Virginia.
July 24, 1621 - John Berkeley is appointed to the governor's Council before he even reaches the Virginia.
March 22, 1622 - John Berkeley and twenty-six other persons at the ironworks at Falling Creek in Chesterfield County die in the Indians' uprising of this date.
Cite This Entry
- APA Citation:
Fausz, J. F., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. John Berkeley (ca. 1560–1622). (2016, November 15). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Berkeley_John_ca_1560-1622.
- MLA Citation:
Fausz, J. Frederick and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "John Berkeley (ca. 1560–1622)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 15 Nov. 2016. Web. READ_DATE.
First published: April 29, 2013 | Last modified: November 15, 2016