Sir William Berkeley, royal governor of Virginia, born near London, died at Twickenham, July 13, 1677. He was educated at Oxford, and went to Virginia as governor in 1641. During the civil war he sided with the king, and the colony long remained loyal to him; but in 1651 a squadron was detached from the fleet sent to Barbadoes, and upon its arrival in Virginia it compelled Berkeley and his friends to submit to the protector. Richard Bennet was made governor in Berkeley's place, but the latter continued to reside in Virginia unmolested. In 1660, after Richard Cromwell's resignation, Berkeley was elected governor by the Virginia assembly, and received a commission for the office from Charles II. Subsequently he rendered himself very unpopular by his failure to protect the settlers from Indian raids, and a rebellion broke out under Nathaniel Bacon, against which the governor was for a long time powerless. After the death of Bacon Berkeley treated the rebels with extreme severity, and a royal commission sent out to investigate the affair and restore order disapproved of his conduct. He was recalled in 1677, and is said to have died of chagrin.
He published "The Lost Lady," a drama (1639), and "A Dis-. course and View of Virginia" (1663).