Jamestown, Virginia, Matthew Scrivener, third colonial governor, drowned 1609
Jamestown, Virginia, Matthew Scrivener, third colonial governor, drowned 1609

Matthew Scrivener (1580 – January 7, 1609) was an English colonist in Virginia. He served briefly as acting governor of Jamestown, but drowned while attempting to cross to nearby Hog Island in a storm in 1609. Eight other colonists were also drowned, half of them members of the governing Council, including Bartholomew Gosnold's brother Anthony. Scrivener was succeeded by Captain John Smith.

Scrivener was the son of Ralph or Rauff Scrivener of Ipswich and of Belstead, in Suffolk, England, a barrister and city bailiff. He was baptized into the Church of England at St Nicholas’s, Ipswich, on 3 March 1580,[1] at a time when infant baptism was almost always given at a few days old.

Scrivener arrived in Virginia on the first supply ship, after the colony had been established. Listed as "Matthew Scrivener, gentleman" in early Virginia records, he was a supporter and friend of Captain John Smith. At the time of his death at the age of 28, Scrivener was acting as the first secretary for the Colony of Jamestown, suggesting that he had resigned as governor, owing to his youth and lack of administrative experience, to be replaced by his friend Smith. His sister was married to the cousin of the first President of Jamestown, Edward Maria Wingfield.[2]

A year after Scrivener's death by drowning, his brother John Scrivener in England purchased Sibton Abbey in Suffolk, where Scrivener family descendants still live today.[3][4]


  1. ^ “Mathew Scrivener” in Suffolk, England, Extracted Church of England Parish Records, 1538-1850, ancestry.com, accessed 18 July 2022 (subscription required)
  2. ^ Augustine Page, Joshua Page, A supplement to The Suffolk Traveller (Ipswich, 1844), p. 595
  3. ^ Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music, Sibton Abbey Account Book, Saxmundham, private collection of J. E. Levett-Scrivener
  4. ^ Bernard Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain (London, 1863).

Further reading

Government offices Preceded byJohn Ratcliffe Colonial Governor of Virginia 1608–1609 Succeeded byJohn Smith