Edmund Andros was born in London,England in 1637, the son of an aristocratic family. Andros joined the English army in 1666, and in 1672, he was named one of the original proprietors of Carolina, which was later divided into North and South Carolina.
By this time, Andros had become a firm friend and client of James, the Duke of York, who appointed Andros governor of the New York colony in 1674.During his tenure as governor, Andros showed the firm disposition of a military man. When he could not gain solid support from the colony’s English settlers, he was called back to England in 1681.
He served as lieutenant colonel of the Princess of Denmark’s regiment of cavalry until 1686, when his friend—the former Duke of York, now King James II—named him governorgeneral of the new Dominion of New England. The dominion included Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Andros arrived in Boston in December, 1686 and immediately put in place a new form of government. He assumed the position of governor and he had a council of advisers, but there was no elected assembly. During the next two years, Andros angered officials in Rhode Island and Connecticut who insisted that their original colonial charters guaranteed them certain rights and freedoms.
The people of Massachusetts were restive as well. The town of Ipswich in Essex County refused to pay taxes to Boston, since there was no elected assembly to levy the taxes. Andros threw the chief protester in jail and managed to collect the king’s taxes, but even Andros could see that under the circumstances the people of New England were difficult to control.
Meanwhile, in late 1688, the Glorious Revolution in England replaced King James II with King William and Queen Mary. When news of this reached Massachusetts, a crowd in Boston began a riot, and this led to a true revolt on April 18, 1689. Andros tried to escape dressed in women’s clothing. He was caught by some citizens of Boston and held prisoner at Castle William in Boston Harbor. It was an embarrassing position for the former governor general.
Andros and his advisers were sent back to England where they were acquitted of any wrongdoing. As a clear indication of their approval of Andros’s conduct, William and Mary sent him to Virginia as royal governor in 1692. He served there until 1697, and then returned to England. He died in London, and his reputation remains as one of the ablest colonial governors, but also one of the most despised.