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Matthew Scrivener

Jamestown, Virginia, Matthew Scrivener, third colonial governor, drowned 1609

Matthew Scrivener (1580 – January 7, 1609) was an English colonist in Virginia. He served briefly as acting governor of Jamestown, when he was succeeded by Captain John Smith. Scrivener drowned with eight other colonists, half of them members of the governing Council, including Bartholomew Gosnold's brother Anthony, while attempting to cross to nearby Hog Island in a storm in 1609.

Scrivener was the son of barrister and city bailiff Ralph Scrivener of Ipswich and of Belstead, in Suffolk, England. His mother was Mary Dowsing Smith. (A year after Matthew's death by drowning, his brother John Scrivener purchased Sibton Abbey in Suffolk, where Scrivener family descendants still reside today.[1][2]) Matthew Scrivener's sister was married to the cousin of the first President of Jamestown, Edward Maria Wingfield.[3]

Scrivener, listed as "Matthew Scrivener, gentleman" in early Virginia records, was a supporter and friend of Captain John Smith. Scrivener arrived on the first supply ship after the colony had been established. Apparently he was supplanted as governor by his friend Smith, due to his young age and lack of administrative skills. At the time of his death at the age of 28, Matthew Scrivener was the first secretary for the Colony of Jamestown.


  1. ^ Digital Image Archive of Medievals Music, Sibton Abbey Account Book, Saxmundham, private collection of J. E. Levett-Scrivener
  2. ^ Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain (London, 1863)
  3. ^ Augustine Page, Joshua Page, A supplement to The Suffolk Traveller (Ipswich, 1844), p. 595

External links

  • The Second Charter of Virginia, May 23, 1609 (names Matthew Screvener, Gent.), The Avalon Project, Yale Law School Library

Further reading

  • Big Chief Elizabeth: The Adventures and Fate of the First English Colonists in America, Giles Milton, Macmillan, New York, 2001
Government offices
Preceded by
John Ratcliffe
Colonial Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
John Smith

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