Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Previous interpretations of Bacon's Rebellion in Virginia (1676-1677) have focused on either the competition between the two major participants, Governor William Berkeley or Councilor Nathaniel Bacon, or the social and economic causes of the uprising. This study presents a collective description of the participants from both sides of the rebellion: Loyalists and Baconians. Participant characteristics such as wealth, social status, officeholding, family life, and standard of living were compared in an attempt to distinguish individual reasons for rebellion or loyal service.;This research demonstrates that although all segments of colonial society were represented in the rebellion, both the Baconians and the Loyalists were primarily comprised of middling and elite Virginians. The study shows that the Baconians were well established farmers and were not poor farmers or ex-indentured servants. For individuals, participation in Bacon's Rebellion was influenced by three factors: a general frustration with the nature of colonial society; specific and personal grievances against the government of Sir William Berkeley; and accidents of family relations and geography. Bacon's Rebellion was thus a comprehensive, planned, personally and politically motivated upheaval that was well within the pattern of revolts established in the colonial Chesapeake.



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