No image of Sir Ferdinando Gorges is known to exist. However, his signature does exist and can be found on the deed to Maine. This is a reproduction of his signature.
Ferdinando Gorges was born 1565 in England.
Gorges entered the British army at an early age and was promoted to the rank of captain at the siege of Sluys in 1587.
In 1588, he was captured and held prisoner at Lisle in 1588.
In 1589, Gorges was wounded at the siege of Paris.
Then in 1591 after the siege of Rouen, he was knighted and rewarded with the post of Governor of the Fort at Plymouth.
In 1605, Sir Gorges sponsored Captain Weymouth’s on an expedition that sailed from England on March 5, 1605 aboard the ship Archangel.
Weymouth landed near Monhegan on May 17, 1605, naming the island “Saint George” after the patron saint of England.
Weymouth explored the coast of present day Maine, including the mouth of the Kennebec River. During this expedition, Weymouth captured a group of Native American Patuxet Indians.
Upon returning to England in July of 1605, Captain George Weymouth presented Sir Gorges with some of the captured American Indians; history records them as Manida, Skidwarres/Skettawarroes, Nahanada/Dehanada, Assacumet and Tisquantum (later called Squanto by Pilgrim settlers). This expedition motivated Sir Gorges to participate in the colonization of the New Wolrd.
In 1606, King James I of England founded the Plymouth Company with the purpose of establishing settlements on the coast of North America. Sir Gorges became a shareholder in this company which was one of two companies (along with the London Company) chartered at part of the Virginia Company.
In 1607, Sir Gorges and the Plymouth Company sponsored George Popham for a proposed settlement.
On May 31, 1607, about 120 colonists left England aboard two ships.
The Popham Colony settled at the mouth of the Kennebec River within northern Virginia, near present-day Phippsburg, Maine (the same year that the London Company established Jamestown). Unlike Jamestown, the Popham Colony was abandoned after only one year.
In 1620, King James granted a charter for the Plymouth Council for New England. The Plymouth Council formed the area now designated as New England, which was the same land previously part of the Virginia Colony.
The famous ships the Mayflower and Speedwell departed from Plymouth England on September 16, 1620.
Then on December 21, 1620 the Pilgrims arrived at the site that would become the settlement of Plymouth (present day Plymouth, Massachusetts).
After the success of the Plymouth settlement, much of the Plymouth Council for New England’s territory was designated to be given away in further land grants.
Province of Maine
Then in 1622, Sir Gorges received his own land grant, along with John Mason, from the Plymouth Council for New England for the entire Province of Maine.
The original boundaries of this land patent were between the Merrimack and Kennebec rivers.
Sir Gorges gave a commission to his son Robert Gorges as Governor-General of New England.
Robert Gorges emigrated to modern Weymouth, Massachusetts in 1623, building his settlement on the site of the previously failed Wessagusset Colony.
Sir Gorges named the English explorer Capt. Francis West admiral of the Plymouth Council for New England to advise his son Robert, along with another English explorer and naval Captain, Christopher Levett.
The arrangement was not satisfactory. Apparently frustrated by the pace of settlement and an obdurate attitude of the new colonists towards English interference, Robert Gorges returned to England in the spring of 1624.
On March 1, 1624, a plantation originally called Agamenticus (the Abenaki term for the York river) was settled by colonists sponsored by Sir Gorges.
In 1629, Sir Gorges and John Mason divided their Province of Maine, with Mason taking the portion south of the Piscataqua River which became the Province of New Hampshire.
In 1638, the settlers of Agamenticus changed the name of their plantation to Bristol after Bristol, England. Sir Gorges envisioned a great city arising from the wilderness there.
Then on March 1, 1642, King Charles granted Sir Gorges a charter for a capitol city Sir Gorges named Gorgeana.
Gorgeana, Massachusetts (now known as York, Maine) was the first incorporated city in America.
Sir Ferdinando Gorges died in 1647 and is buried in Long Ashton church. He is considered the “Father of English Colonization in North America,” even though he personally never set foot in the New World.
In 1652, York was incorporated from a portion of Gorgeana. The new city was named for York, England.
Then in 1677, Sir Gorges’ grandson, another Ferdinando, finally sold to Massachusetts all rights to Maine for £1,250.
Only in 1820 did Maine achieve separate statehood.
Now WE know em