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Thomas Colepeper, 2nd Baron Colepeper


Thomas Colepeper, 2nd Baron Colepeper

Thomas Colepeper
second baron Colepeper of Thoresway
Died 27 January 1689
London, England
Nationality English
Occupation Colonial governor

Thomas Colpeper, 2nd Baron Culpeper of Thoresway (baptised 21 March 1635 – 27 January 1689) was the colonial governor of Virginia from 1677 to 1683.


Born in 1635, Colepeper (often referred to by the alternate, Culpeper) was the son of Judith and John Colepeper. As a royalist, his father left England at the end of the English civil war following the execution of Charles I. Thomas Culpeper lived with his father in the Netherlands and there on 3 August 1659 married the Dutch heiress Margaret van Hesse. He returned to England after Charles II's restoration.

Culpeper was made administrator of the Isle of Wight which involved little administration but did add to his wealth. He became governor of Virginia in July 1677[1] but did not leave England until 1679, when he was ordered to by Charles II. While there, he seemed more interested in maintaining his land in the Northern Neck than governing and soon returned to England.[2]

Rioting in the colony forced him to return in 1682, by which time the riots were already quelled. After apparently appropriating £9,500 from the treasury of the colony, he returned to England and Charles II was forced to dismiss him, appointing in his stead Francis Howard, 5th Baron Howard of Effingham. During this tumultuous time, Culpeper's erratic behaviour meant that he had to rely increasingly on his cousin and Virginia agent, Col. Nicholas Spencer.[3][4] (Spencer succeeded Culpeper as acting Governor on the Lord's departure from the colony.)

Culpeper lived the rest of his life in London with his mistress, Susannah Willis, and their two daughters. He left a will in favour of Willis and her daughters that was suppressed. Catherine Culpeper, his only child with his wife Margaret van Hesse, inherited much of his wealth and married Thomas Fairfax, 5th Lord Fairfax of Cameron in 1690.

In Virginia, Culpeper County and its county seat, the town of Culpeper are named for him.


  1. ^ Grant of the Office of Lieutenant and Governor-General, 21 June 1675, Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, Great Britain Public Record Office, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1896
  2. ^ Letter from Nicholas Spencer to Secretary Thomas Coventry, 20 August 1680, reporting news of Culpeper's departure from Virginia, Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, Great Britain Public Record Office, Whitehall, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1890
  3. ^ History of the Colony and Ancient Dominion of Virginia, Charles Campbell, J. P. Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia, 1860
  4. ^ Letters of William Fitzhugh, The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. II, The Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, 1895
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • John T. Kneebone et al., eds., Dictionary of Virginia Biography (Richmond: Library of Virginia, 1998- ), 3:596-598. ISBN 0-88490-206-4

External links

Government offices
Preceded by
William Berkeley
Colonial Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
5th Baron Howard of Effingham
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Portland
Governor of the Isle of Wight
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Holmes
Vice-Admiral of Hampshire

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