Facts and Events
Sir Thomas Gates was one of the Early Settlers of Colonial Virginia
Information on Sir Thomas Gates
The English born Gates ruled with deputy governor Sir Thomas Dale. Their controlled, strict methods helped the early colonies survive. However, they did not assist in making them thrive.
Gates was appointed by the Virginia Company of London, which had established the Jamestown settlement under a Royal Charter for the colonisation of Virginia. He had sailed for Jamestown in 1609, aboard the Sea Venture, the new flagship of the Virginia Company. The Sea Venture was part of the Third Supply, a fleet of seven ships, towing two pinnaces, which was intended to deliver new settlers and desperately needed supplies.
At sea, the ships of the Third Supply were separated by a three-day storm now thought to have been a large hurricane. The Admiral of the Virginia Company, Sir George Somers, had taken the helm to fight the storm, and deliberately drove the ship onto rocks to prevent its foundering. The rocks proved to be the reef line to the east of the uninhabited archipelago now known as Bermuda. The other ships went on to Jamestown, not knowing the fate of the Sea Venture.
The 150 survivors spent the next ten months in Bermuda building two new ships on which to complete the journey to Jamestown. Two factions developed, however, due to a dispute between Gates and Somers over who was now the superior. As an appointed officer for Jamestown, Gates felt he was in authority, now that they were ashore. Somers felt that he retained authority until the settlers, including Gates, were landed at Jamestown. The two new ships, the Deliverance and the Patience were completed and sailed for Virginia in 1610. They left two men (a third would be left when the Patience returned from Jamestown) to maintain their claim of Bermuda for England. The Charter of the Virginia Company would officially be extended to include Bermuda in 1612. Ever since, Bermuda has also been known officially as The Somers Isles. Sir Thomas Gates left his own name on a part of the colony, Gate's Bay, where the survivors of the Sea Venture landed. The oldest surviving fort in Bermuda, built between 1612 and 1615, is known as Gate's Fort.