William Dandridge (1689–1744)

William Dandridge was a British naval officer, a member of the governor's Council, and a surveyor on the expedition to define the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina (called the Dividing Line). Commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Navy in 1709, he immigrated to Virginia sometime before 1715. He lived in King William County before his appointment to the Council in 1727. In 1728 he accompanied William Byrd II to survey the Dividing Line; in Byrd's account of the expedition Dandridge appears as the judicious and good-natured "Meanwell." In 1734 Dandridge resumed his naval career, moving up the ranks and being promoted to captain in 1741. He died in Greenwich, England, in 1744. MORE...

 

Dandridge was the son of John Dandridge, a London member of the company of painters and stainers, and his second wife, Ann Dandridge (whose maiden name is not known). He was born on December 29, 1689. Several of his siblings were born in their father's native Oxfordshire, but Dandridge's birthplace is uncertain. Commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Navy on October 20, 1709, he left active duty within a few years and sometime before 1715 sailed to Virginia, probably in company with his brother, John Dandridge, later the father of Martha Dandridge Custis Washington. Dandridge lived at Hampton, where he owned a wharf and a ship and was a merchant. In 1715 Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood commissioned him to carry soldiers in his sloop William from Hanover County to Charleston, South Carolina. Dandridge may have accompanied Spotswood on his expedition to the Shenandoah Valley the following year. The members of that party later received commemorative golden horseshoes.

By late in July 1715 Dandridge had married a young widow, Euphan Wallace Roscow. They had one son before her death on April 22, 1717. Two years later Dandridge moved to Elsing Green, a large King William County estate that he acquired when he married Unity West on March 17 or 18, 1719. One of their four daughters and one of their two sons married children of Alexander Spotswood.

On June 1, 1727, George I appointed Dandridge to the governor's Council. Dandridge took his seat on September 11, at which time the news of the king's death and the accession of George II were officially proclaimed in Williamsburg. On the following December 14 the lieutenant governor appointed Dandridge one of the commissioners to survey the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. With William Byrd and Richard Fitzwilliam, he accompanied both surveying parties that were in the field from February 27 to April 9 and from September 17 to November 22, 1728. In Byrd's private manuscript account of the surveying expeditions, usually designated the Secret History of the Dividing Line and not published until the twentieth century, he assigned type names to all of the main characters of his fanciful narrative. He called Fitzwilliam "Firebrand" and Dandridge "Meanwell." Byrd's Secret History offers the best information available about Dandridge's personality. Much of the dramatic tension in the story comes from the conflict between the irascible Fitzwilliam and the prudent, even-tempered Dandridge. From the pages of Byrd's narrative, Dandridge emerges as a good-natured gentleman, a keen conversationalist, and a spirited companion. In a letter of introduction to the bishop of London, James Blair, another member of the Council, confirmed Byrd's evaluation of Dandridge and called him "a very honest Gentleman."

In August 1734 Dandridge obtained a one-year leave of absence from the Council in order to return to England, where he intended to resume his naval career. He was commissioned a lieutenant and extended his leave of absence from Virginia for two more years, but he eventually found a way to return home while remaining in the navy. Dandridge became commander of a ship assigned to patrol the coast of Virginia and the colonies to its south. Though he had been absent from Virginia for more than three years, he very much wanted to continue serving on the Council once he returned, and he successfully requested permission from the absentee royal governor, William Anne Keppel, second earl of Albemarle, to do so.

Promoted to commander on April 11, 1738, and given charge of the twelve-gun sloop Wolf, Dandridge also received from the second duke of Montagu that same month a handsome, inscribed sword that a descendant presented to the Virginia Historical Society in 1969. Although Dandridge had difficulty fitting out the ship and completing his crew, he sailed in the Wolf from Portsmouth, England, before the end of June. Traveling by way of Madeira, he encountered stormy weather that battered the ship and left less-seasoned crewmembers seasick. Serious illness struck others, who died or had to be put ashore. Dandridge reached Virginia on September 29, 1738. The following week the Virginia Gazette reported his arrival and announced his mission: "to protect the valuable Trade of this Country, against any Insults that may be attempted upon it." During the following two years he spent much time aboard the Wolf cruising the Virginia and Carolina coasts.

Dandridge was promoted to captain in November 1741 and took command of the forty-four-gun Southsea Castle, which he sailed from England to Virginia. He arrived early in 1742, in time to take part in the British attack on Saint Augustine and the siege of Cartegena during the War of the Austrian Succession. After being ordered back to England the next year, he attended the Council for the last recorded time on August 4, 1743. Dandridge was given command of the forty-gun Mary Galley the following July, but he died little more than a month later, at Greenwich, England, on August 28, 1744.

Time Line

  • December 29, 1689 - William Dandridge is born in England to John Dandridge and Ann Dandridge.
  • October 20, 1709 - William Dandridge is commissioned a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.
  • 1715 - Sometime before this year, William Dandridge sails to Virginia, probably with his brother, John Dandridge.
  • 1715 - Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood commissions William Dandridge to carry soldiers in his sloop William from Hanover County to Charleston, South Carolina.
  • Late July 1715 - By this time, William Dandridge has married a young widow, Euphan Wallace Roscow. They will have one son.
  • 1716 - Lieutenant Governor Alexander Spotswood promotes expansion into the Blue Ridge Mountains when his "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe" expedition crosses into the Shenandoah Valley. He and a party of about fifty gentlemen, possibly including William Dandridge, embark on the expedition; German and Scots-Irish families from Pennsylvania soon follow.
  • April 22, 1717 - Euphan Wallace Roscow Dandridge, wife of William Dandridge, dies.
  • March 17 or 18, 1719 - William Dandridge marries Unity West, thus acquiring Elsing Green, a large King William County estate. Dandridge and West will have four daughters and two sons.
  • June 1, 1727 - George I appoints William Dandridge to the governor's Council.
  • September 11, 1727 - William Dandridge takes his seat on the governor's Council.
  • December 14, 1727 - Lieutenant Governor Sir William Gooch appoints William Dandridge one of the commissioners to survey the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina.
  • February 27–April 9, 1728 - A party that includes William Byrd II, William Dandridge, and Richard Fitzwilliam surveys the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina.
  • September 17–November 22, 1728 - A party that includes William Byrd II, William Dandridge, and Richard Fitzwilliam surveys the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina.
  • August 1734 - William Dandridge obtains a one-year leave of absence from the governor's Council in order to return to England, where he intends to resume his naval career. He is commissioned a lieutenant and extends his leave of absence from Virginia for two more years.
  • April 11, 1738 - William Dandridge is promoted to commander in the Royal Navy and given charge of the twelve-gun sloop Wolf, which is assigned to patrol the coast of Virginia and its colonies to the south.
  • September 29, 1738 - The Wolf, commanded by William Dandridge, reaches Virginia after a stormy sea voyage from Portsmouth, England.
  • November 1741 - William Dandridge is promoted to captain and takes command of the forty-four-gun Southsea Castle, which he sails from England to Virginia.
  • Early 1742 - William Dandridge takes part in the British attack on Saint Augustine and the siege of Cartegena during the War of the Austrian Succession.
  • August 4, 1743 - Having been ordered back to England, William Dandridge attends the governor's Council for the last recorded time.
  • July 1744 - William Dandridge is given command of the forty-gun ship Mary Galley.
  • August 28, 1744 - William Dandridge dies in Greenwich, England.

References

Further Reading
Boyd, William K., ed. William Byrd's Histories of the Dividing Line betwixt Virginia and North Carolina. Raleigh: The North Carolina Historical Commission, 1929.
Bristowe, W. S. "News of Martha Washington." Genealogists' Magazine 15, no. 14 (June 1968): 610.
Hayes, Kevin J. "Dandridge, William." In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 3, edited by Sara B. Bearss, et al., 677–678. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006.
Quitt, Martin H. "Byrd, William (1674–1744)." In the Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Vol. 2, edited by Sara B. Bearss, et al., 466–470. Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2001.
Cite This Entry
  • APA Citation:

    Hayes, K. J., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. William Dandridge (1689–1744). (2013, September 23). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Dandridge_William_1689-1744.

  • MLA Citation:

    Hayes, Kevin J. and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "William Dandridge (1689–1744)." Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 23 Sep. 2013. Web. READ_DATE.

First published: August 5, 2013 | Last modified: September 23, 2013


Contributed by Kevin J. Hayes and the Dictionary of Virginia Biography