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(b. c. 1587, Westmorland County, Eng.--d. c. 1677, Virginia [U.S.]), American colonial trader and public official.

Claiborne immigrated to Virginia in 1621 as a surveyor for the colony, and in 1626 he was appointed secretary of state for Virginia and a member of the governor's royal council. The following year he received a license to trade with the Indians along Chesapeake Bay, and after exploring the region, he established a successful trading post on Kent Island in 1631.

Kent Island was included in the proprietorial grant to Lord Baltimore in 1632, despite Claiborne's opposition in London to the grant. When Claiborne resisted Baltimore's claim to the island, the proprietor ordered his governor in Maryland to seize the settlement. Claiborne thereupon sailed to England in 1637, attempting to justify his claim, but the commissioner of plantations ruled against him. Claiborne returned to Virginia, and in 1642 he became treasurer of the colony.

Two years later he and Richard Ingle seized the opportunity to incite a revolt in Maryland that expelled Governor Leonard Calvert, leaving Claiborne in control of the colony until 1646. Five years later he was appointed a member of the commission established by Oliver Cromwell's Parliament to enforce its rule over both Virginia and Maryland. He served as a member of the commission that governed Maryland from 1652 to 1657. Claiborne vainly persisted in his efforts to regain control over Kent Island despite the re-establishment of the Maryland proprietorship in 1658.

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Claiborne, William (1587?-1677?), American colonist in what is now the state of Maryland. He was born in northwestern England. Claiborne was appointed secretary of state for the colony in 1625.

In 1631 he purchased Kent Island in Chesapeake Bay (now part of Maryland). However, Cecilius Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore, claimed Kent Island as part of the land grant given his family by royal charter. A group of colonists sent by Calvert to the Maryland colony seized Kent Island in 1638. Claiborne overthrew Leonard Calvert, Cecilius Calvert's brother, in 1644 and held Maryland for the next two years.

The English strongman Oliver Cromwell appointed him to a parliamentary commission that governed Maryland from 1652 to 1657. Lord Baltimore's claim to the colony was upheld, however, and Maryland was returned to him.

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For the latest version of William Claiborne's family background
by Sue Clibborn Forbes see "Detailed Analysis"

For an overall view of the situation at the time, I recommend you to
see Amanda's Version of events with respect to William Claibourne

For information on the the connection between Leonard Calvert and William Claiborne
see "Leonard Calvert"

For information on the family tree of William Claiborne
see "Claiborne Clippings"

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