A History of the Piscataqua River Region

1622 Ferdinando Gorges

(rough draft)

Fernando Gorges is a name largely forgotten in American history, but he is considered “The Father of English Colonization of North America.” His interest specifically in the Piscataqua region was decades in the making. He went on to found Georgiana, which was later named to York, which can be read here: http://piscataquaplantations.com/1623-agamenticus-gorgeana-york/

As we have seen, many reasons contributed to European interest in the East Coast of the New World including natural resources, gold, silver, fish, trade, and the survival of the Virginia Company in Jamestown. They were also competing with the French, Spanish, Portuguese, and other rivals for land and power.

Gorges was from Plymouth, England and became a rich and powerful man. Through military service, he became governor of the Fort at Plymouth. He became aquianted with the three Native Americans who were brought over by George Weymouth, and all the public reports of the New World by the likes of John Smith and many others.

Since Sir Ferdinando Gorges had chartered several of the earlier expeditions to the region, he knew of the strange epidemic and it’s catastrophic impact on the native population, noting “their vulnerability to European microbes and power.” (25) It is by no genuis stoke that by 1620, Gorges was chief agent for the Council for New England.

In 1622, Ferdinando Gorges and John Mason received a large land grant from The Council which they named Laconia. The original boundaries of land granted to them both extended between the Kennebec River south to Merrimack River in Massachusetts. Mason acquired the area between the Piscataqua and south to the Merrimack. Mason’s portion became New Hampshire, and Gorges’s portion, was from the Piscataqua north to the Kenebunk, Maine (1).

In Maine, the present towns of Kittery, the Berwicks, and Eliot were originally part of the Piscataqua Plantation, with initial settlements at Quamphegan Falls, Spruce Creek, Sturgeon Creek and at Kittery Point, which in the 1630’s collectively supported a population of about 200 people. The plantation on the east bank of the Piscataqua River at Sturgeon Creek Village was renamed Kittery in about 1647. (1)

Gorges’s nephew Thomas was said to be perhaps the most significant and influencial, helpful to settlers, and was held in high honor (2). (move this)

Sir Ferdinando Gorges died in 1647 having never visited New England. King Charles I was beheaded, and Puritans under Cromwell gained control of England. During the King’s struggle…Gorges had remained loyal to him. It was perhaps well that he died two years before the king and was spared the grief of seeing puratin control. Gorges had been on the loosing side from the beginning, first in his fishing monopoly, then in his ideas of government, and finally his love for the king. After his death, Gorges’s heirs, being royalists too, were unable to assert their claims in America (9).

He did not leave any direction or inheritance on his lands, and in Gorgeana, an assembly voted to rule independentaly until further notice. Edward Godfrey was voted Governor, and was thus the first person to be voted Governor in what is now the State of Maine (2).

Court cases and disputes between the Bay Colony and Maine continued to 1677 when they finally agreed to Gorges claim, however, purchased the rights for 1250 pounds from his decendants. Game over.


1631 The Castle Fort William and Mary New Castle


1500 Pre Colonial Exploration

1 Comment

  1. I like the efforts you have put in this, thank you for all the great articles.

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