Virginia Colonists Declare War on Holland

Dateline: Virginia, September 24, 1672: In conformity to King Charles II’s declaration of war against the United Provinces (Holland), the Virginia colonists also declare war.

It’s not that the colonists were equipped to wage an offensive war, but they did ready themselves in the event of Dutch raids.

Modernized transcription begins:

To the King’s most sacred Majesty,

Your Majesty’s Governor, Council, Burgesses of your Colony of Virginia

Humbly do present:

That on the 24th of June last, your Majesty’s declaration of war against the States General of the United Provinces and their subjects at Whitehall the 17th of March 1771/2 together with your Royal commands thereupon directed to your Majesty’s Governor and Council arrived here;

And that in humble obedience thereunto on the fourth of July next following, war was declared here in the usual places and manner against the said States General and their subjects and for the better prosecution of the same, order has been taken so far as we are possibly able to put this Colony into a defence, by hastening the repair of our forts, mustering our land forces of horse and foot and fixing our arms.

But may it please your Majesty upon consideration of the whole charge and present low value of our tobacco, we find ourselves unable at our own charge to provide such magazine of artillery and arms for horse and foot with shot and powder, as may so securely defend us & the ships trading to us as your Majesty may expect and we desire.

And your Majesty having in your royal letter graciously pleased to grant us such a supply as may be sufficient for our defense against any enemy, the particulars whereof we have desired Sir Thomas Chicheley, master of your Majesty’s ordinance to resent to your Majesty which if your Majesty shall please to grant us. We doubt not but to defend ourselves against any of your Majesty’s or our enemies.

God of Heaven preserve your Majesty and grant that all your consultations and actions may increase your glory and good of your subjects, amongst whom are

Your Majesty’s most humble and loyal servants and subjects:

William Berkeley for the Council

For the Burgesses, Robert Wynne, Speaker

Thos. Ludwell, Secretary

Transcription ends.

The Virginia colonists didn’t have the resources to wage a war, but they requested help from the King’s navy. Later records show that the king did supply them with the basics for defensive war.

Were the colonists’ requests reasonable?


Gateway Ancestors of Virginia


Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1659/60-1693, ed. H. R. McIlwaine (Richmond: 1914), pp. 58-59

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