SPOTSWOOD (SPOTTSWOOD or SPOTTISWOOD), ALEXANDER (1676-1740), American colonial governor, was born, of an old Scotch family, in Tangier, Africa, in 1676. He served under Marlborou^h in the War of the Spanish Succession, and was wounded at Blenheim. He became lieutenant governor of Virginia in June 1710, when he was received with some enthusiasm, because he brought to the colony the privilege of habeas corpus; his tern as governor closed in September 1722 probably because he meddled in ecclesiastical matters; but he remained in Virginia, living near his ironworks in Germanna, a settlement of Germans, on the Rapidan in Spottsylvania county (named in his honour) and he was deputy postmaster-general of the colonies from 1730 to 1739. He was the first representative of the British government in America who fully appreciated the value of the western territory. As governor he recommended the establishment of a Virginia company to carry on trade with the Indians, he urged upon the provincial government and also upon the British authorities the wisdom of constructing forts along the frontier, and he personally organized and conducted an exploring expedition (Aug. 17 to Sept. 20, 1716) into the Shenandoah Valley reaching the water-parting between the Atlantic and the Ohio river. 1 These ambitious and expensive schemes, coupled with his haughty and overbearing conduct, involved him in a controversy with the rather niggardly House of Burgesses. He developed the iron industry of Virginia,, promoted the religious education of the Indians and tried to advance the interests of education, and especially of the College of William and Mary. In 1740 he was commissioned majorgeneral to conduct the expedition against Cartagena, but died while attending to the embarcation, at Annapolis, Maryland, on the 7th of June 1740. His library he left to the College of William and Mary.
See R. A. Brock (ed.), " The Official Letters of Alexander Spotswood " (with a memoir), in The Collections of the Virginia Historical Society (2 vols., Richmond, 1882-1885).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)