West, Thomas, Lord Delaware, second governor of Virginia, was the son of Sir Thomas West, second Lord Delaware, and Anne his wife, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys and Katherine Cary, his wife. He was one of thirteen children, and was born July 9, 1577; educated at Oxford, and was a Master of Arts at that university. He early saw military service and was a great friend of the Earl of Essex, who knighted him at Dublin, July 12, 1599. He was implicated in the Essex rebellion and was imprisoned. Essex, however, asked pardon of his father, the second Lord Delaware, for bringing his son into danger. After the father's death, March 24, 1602, he succeeded as third Lord Delaware, and was a member of the privy council of Queen Elizabeth, and on her death became a privy councillor to King James. He took a most active interest in the American enterprise, and in 1609 was a member of the superior council of Virginia in England. The experience with the first charter left the impression with the public, that only a supreme and absolute governor could obviate the dissensions and faction that characterized the history of the colony. A help to order lay, it was believed, in the selection of a man whose rank would inspire respect, and when the second charter was obtained the Virginia Company turned to Lord Delaware. As he was, however, unable to go at once, they conferred the office of governor temporarily upon Sir Thomas Gates. On February 28, 1610, Delaware was commissioned governor of the Virginia colony for life, and was sent with 150 emigrants, chiefly workmen, to the assistance of Jamestown. He arrived at Point Comfort, June 7, 1610, just in time to save the colony from abandonment by Gates. Delaware sent the pinnace Virginia up the river to meet the departing settlers, and under the orders of the new governor they were all taken back again to Jamestown. Sunday, June 10, Lord Delaware himself arrived. He had the town cleaned and rehabilitated the frail houses. The settlement of four acres was defended by new palisades and everything was made safe and comfortable for the time being. He next proceeded to settle matters with the Indians, and after driving Pochines and his tribe from Kecoughtan he erected two forts at the mouth of Hampton river, called Charles and Henry, about three miles from Point Comfort. In the interim he sent out an expedition to search for mines above the falls, but the Indians were very troublesome and no mines were found. It was the fashion of the times to boost the country at the expense of the poor colonists, who were traduced and villified. Delaware, in a letter to the London Company, pursued the example, but retribution followed fast. The great trouble was the unhealthiness of the country and the rotten supplies sent over, which introduced sickness and death, and Delaware was literally bombarded out of the country by a combined attack of ague, flux, cramp and gout. To save his life he went first to the West Indies, whence he sailed to England, where he arrived rather crestfallen about a year after his departure. he remained in the latter country till 1618, and in his absence the government of Virginia was administered by Deputy Governors Gates, Dale, Yardley and Argall. In the latter year he was sent again to Virginia to rescue the government from the hands of Samuel Argall, who had incurred the strong resentment of the Virginia Company of London, but on the way over he died June 7, 1618, aged forty-one.
He married Cecily, daughter of Sir Thomas Sherley.
His son and successor was Henry, fourth Lord Delaware, who married Isabella, daughter of Sir Thomas Edmunds.
Governor Delaware had three brothers — Francis West, John West and Nathaniel West, who all lived in Virginia, and the first two of whom were deputy governors at different times; William West, a nephew, was killed by Indians at the Falls of James river, Virginia, in 1611. Through Captain John West, the noble family of the Delawares is widely represented in Virginia and the south and west.