Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Dunmore's New World

Dunmore's New World: The Extraordinary Life of a Royal Governor in Revolutionary America--with Jacobites, Counterfeiters, Land Schemes, Shipwrecks, Scalping, Indian Politics, Runaway Slaves, and Two Illegal Royal Weddings

Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 280
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Dunmore's New World
    Book Description:

    Dunmore's New Worldtells the stranger-than-fiction story of Lord Dunmore, the last royal governor of Virginia, whose long-neglected life boasts a measure of scandal and intrigue rare in the annals of the colonial world. Dunmore not only issued the first formal proclamation of emancipation in American history; he also undertook an unauthorized Indian war in the Ohio Valley, now known as Dunmore's War, that was instrumental in opening the Kentucky country to white settlement. In this entertaining biography, James Corbett David brings together a rich cast of characters as he follows Dunmore on his perilous path through the Atlantic world from 1745 to 1809.

    Dunmore was a Scots aristocrat who, even with a family history of treason, managed to obtain a commission in the British army, a seat in the House of Lords, and three executive appointments in the American colonies. He was an unusual figure, deeply invested in the imperial system but quick to break with convention. Despite his 1775 proclamation promising freedom to slaves of Virginia rebels, Dunmore was himself a slaveholder at a time when the African slave trade was facing tremendous popular opposition in Great Britain. He also supported his daughter throughout the scandal that followed her secret, illegal marriage to the youngest son of George III-a relationship that produced two illegitimate children, both first cousins of Queen Victoria.

    Within this single narrative, Dunmore interacts with Jacobites, slaves, land speculators, frontiersmen, Scots merchants, poor white fishermen, the French, the Spanish, Shawnees, Creeks, patriots, loyalists, princes, kings, and a host of others. This history captures the vibrant diversity of the political universe that Dunmore inhabited alongside the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. A transgressive imperialist, Dunmore had an astounding career that charts the boundaries of what was possible in the Atlantic world in the Age of Revolution.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3425-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    Sometime before nine o’clock on the morning of 5 December 1793, a couple identifying themselves as Augustus Frederick and Augusta Murray were married at St. George’s Church in Hanover Square, London. The bride had arrived in a hackney coach, the equivalent of a modern taxi, wearing a “common linen gown” beneath a winter cloak. The groom was dressed in a brown greatcoat, not unlike those worn by London shopkeepers of the day. She was in her early thirties; he was ten years her junior. The curate who performed the ceremony did not recognize either one of them, but St. George’s...

  6. ONE Family Politics, 1745–1770
    (pp. 9-24)

    Lady Augusta Murray was not the first close relation to jeopardize Dunmore’s place in the empire. Nearly half a century earlier, his father, William Murray of Taymount, had risked the family’s future on the success of an ill-fated revolution. In the summer of 1745, Charles Edward Stuart, better known as “Bonnie Prince Charlie,” landed secretly on the northwest coast of Scotland near a place called Moidart. Charles’s grandfather, the Catholic King James II, had lost the English throne in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 to his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband, the Dutch sovereign William. A devoted Catholic like...

  7. TWO The Absence of Empire, 1770–1773
    (pp. 25-55)

    Two ships brought Lord Dunmore’s baggage across the Atlantic Ocean in 1770. One wrecked on its approach to Manhattan—an ill omen. That the other arrived safely was fortunate, for in addition to the new governor’s furniture it was carrying a four-thousand-pound gilt equestrian statue of George III. Ordered as a tribute to the king following the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, the statue was erected on the commons outside of Fort George in August 1770, just a few months before Dunmore’s arrival. A large celebration accompanied the unveiling at which New Yorkers danced to the music of...

  8. THREE Promised Land, 1773–1774
    (pp. 56-93)

    In August 1774, Lord Dunmore left the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg to confront a coalition of Shawnee and Mingo warriors in the remote Ohio River Valley. It was an unusual step for someone in his position, traveling so many mountainous miles on such a dangerous mission. But Dunmore’s War, as the expedition came to be known, proved a triumph, and the earl returned home on 4 December to a hero’s welcome. In the days that followed, colonists clamored to extend their congratulations, not only for the defeat of the Indians, which they thought he had accomplished with exemplary fortitude and...

  9. FOUR A Refugee’s Revolution, 1775–1781
    (pp. 94-130)

    Early on the morning of 8 June 1775, cannon fire resounded off the coast of Yorktown, Virginia. Amid the mounting crisis over colonial rights, it was an ominous sign. Two months earlier, Lord Dunmore had set off a furor when he ordered the secret removal of gunpowder from the Williamsburg magazine. Sometime between three and four in the morning on 21 April, British marines seized the powder and loaded it onto a ship in the James River. When confronted later that day, Dunmore claimed to have detained the powder in order to protect it from a rumored slave uprising in...

  10. FIVE Abiding Ambitions, 1781–1796
    (pp. 131-178)

    Even accepting that American loyalists came in all shapes and sizes, with backgrounds and motives as disparate as the colonies themselves, those who populate Dunmore’s story are something of a revelation. Mainly from the South and West, they possessed none of the staid rationality, reverence for tradition, or moderation of mind that define familiar icons of loyalty.¹ Hardly hidebound, they were quick to challenge authority and perfectly willing to break with the past in order to advance the empire and their place in it. Some betrayed republican leanings after the war by agitating for stricter standards of representation and decrying...

  11. Conclusion, 1796–1809
    (pp. 179-184)

    The appointment of William Dowdeswell as governor of the Bahama Islands in late 1797 more or less made it official: Dunmore’s career in the empire was over. His would not be a restful retirement. Between the saga of Lady Augusta’s marriage and the family’s finances, sources of anxiety were legion and every day a struggle.

    George III was determined that his son never see Augusta again. But despite years of Crown-mandated separation, the prince remained committed to his young family. In a letter to Augusta in the spring of 1796, Augustus Frederick recalled the consummation of their marriage with rapture:...

  12. A Note on Method: Biography and Empire
    (pp. 185-188)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 189-236)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 237-260)
  15. Index
    (pp. 261-270)