Sir Ferdinando Gorges
(1565 - 1647)
Maine owes its birth to the efforts of Sir Ferdinando Gorges, a wealthy British knight. As explorers brought back news of the New World in the early 1600s, Gorges became increasingly interested in setting up a colony. He helped sponsor George Weymouth's expedition to the mouth of the Kennebec in 1605, and also helped fund the Popham Colony, a settlement near present-day Phippsburg that failed in 1608. But Gorges was determined, and in 1621 he and several other British courtiers organized the Council for New England. King James I granted the Council the territory reaching from the Chesapeake River to the Penobscot River, and from sea to sea on either side of the country. Gorges became known as the Lord Proprietor of the Province of Maine. He and his nephew Thomas established Maine's first court system, and Gorges' land grants brought many of the first British settlers to Maine. Gorges died in 1647, having lost his wealth. Maine eventually fell under the control of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Gorges never once set foot on American soil.

Source: Maine: The Pine Tree State from Prehistory to the Present, ed. Richard Judd, Edwin A. Churchill, and Joel Eastman. Orono: University of Maine Press. 1995.

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