Special copies of documents from the 17th century relating to former Newport, Isle of Wight Member of Parliament, Sir Richard Worsley, have been formally presented to the collection at the county museum in Smithfield, Isle of Wight County, Virginia, USA.
Isle of Wight Council chairman, Councillor Charles Chapman, presented the replica documents concerning Sir Richard – who had business interests in a plantation and the first European settlement in what became Isle of Wight, County, Virginia – to Maurice and Christine Kane, from Whitwell, who will be visiting the museum in Smithfield later this year.
Isle of Wight County Museum, Virginia has a room dedicated to the Isle of Wight, England. The American county was named after its English counterpart in 1637.
Christine Kane said: “We were told by a friend of ours, Joanna Richards, who has visited the museum, that the curator there said he would very much like something for their archives about Sir Richard Worsley, because of Sir Richard’s connections with the settlement. So we are honoured to have been given the task of formally handing these documents over on behalf of the council’s Civic Office, which our local councillor, Councillor Dave Stewart, kindly put us in touch with.”
The replicas are reproduced from originals in the Oglander family archive held by the County Record Office, Newport, and include a signed warrant from Sir Richard Worsley and John Oglander to the constables of the Isle of Wight in 1611, and a letter from the Earl of Southampton copied in Sir Richard’s own hand asking for help in raising money for a loan to the King of Bohemia, dated 1620.
Councillor Chapman said: “I would particularly like to thank Mr and Mrs Kane for taking on the role of delivering these documents to the museum in Smithfield on behalf of the council’s Civic Office. I am also very grateful to our heritage services manager, Richard Smout, for finding these documents and preparing the copies for sending to the USA – and to Councillor Stewart for setting up these arrangements.”
At the presentation to Mr and Mrs Kane at County Hall, Newport, Mr Smout was able to bring along the original documents which will continue to be preserved in the archives at Newport whilst the copies will be presented to the American museum by Mr and Mrs Kane during their visit to the USA.
Mr Smout explained the historical background to the documents and Sir Richard Worsley.
“Sir Richard Worsley lived from circa 1588/1589 to 1621, his family being among the most notable on the Island at the time. He served as one of two MPs for Newport from 1614 to 1621 and was made Sheriff of Hampshire in 1616, by which time had also been knighted and created a baronet.
Late in 1618, or in early 1619 he, and others received a patent to plant a colony in Virginia and the colonists arrived in 1619. It seems unlikely that Sir Richard himself sailed to Virginia, but he was certainly one of the key figures as every scheme needed to be headed by someone with status and wealth to give it credibility. It is thanks to his friend, Sir John Oglander, that we know a fair amount about Sir Richard and that these documents were retained.”
Councillor Chapman said: “At local authority level we have had links with Isle of Wight County, Virginia for a number of decades, and I’m delighted that we are able to handover these documents to the museum in Smithfield and hope that they prove of great interest.”