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William Shirley

(1694—1771) colonial governor and army officer


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(1694–1771) colonial governor of Massachusetts. Shirley was born in England into a well-connected family. He took up the practice of law, but some unsuccessful financial investments and general dissatisfaction led him to seek a post in a colonial government, and he arrived in Boston in 1731. He replaced the unpopular governor of Massachusetts, Jonathan Belcher, and quickly resolved a banking and credit crisis; he remained a popular governor, especially after the successful Massachusetts-led raid on Fort Louisbourg at Cape Breton, in 1745. He went to Paris to try to negotiate a boundary that would satisfy both Britain and France but found the experience frustrating and returned to Boston in 1753. Shirley was a colonel of a Massachusetts regiment in the French and Indian War (1754–63); and eventually succeeded Gen. Edward Braddock as commander of British forces in North America. When the French succeeded in repulsing the British effort to take Fort Oswego, Shirley was blamed, unfairly, for the defeat and recalled to London. He languished there until he won an appointment as governor of the Bahamas in 1759.

From The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Warfare and Defence.


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