Posts Tagged ‘tax revolt’

Nathan Bacon died of the ‘Lousy Evil’

November 17th, 2008 No comments


The first time I read about the “Lousy Evil” was this weekend in distant relative Sir Thomas Grantham’s personal account of how he ended Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676 on behalf of Virginia Governor William Berkeley.

Grantham said in his book An historical account of some memorable actions, particularly in Virginia that Nathaniel Bacon, the leader of Bacon’s Rebellion, “died of the Lousy Evil,” known medically as Phthiriasis. But you might know the Lousy Evil by its more modern name: crabs.


According to Grantham (who worked on behalf of the Governor), he basically showed up at one of the rebel meetings and convinced them to surrender in the wake of Bacon’s death. He provides an interesting account of the entire affair.

History may prefer the narrative that Nathan Bacon’s untimely death was for the cause and by the cause, but there it is tucked away in a distant relatives notes on the first American rebellion. Nathaniel Bacon died of crabs. Now, maybe it was just an insulting jab, but now I know why people wore merkins in the 1600s.

Sir Thomas Grantham and Bacon’s Rebellion

November 16th, 2008 No comments


Today I’m reading Sir Thomas Grantham’s account of his role in Bacon’s Rebellion and how he got the rebels to surrender to Virginia Governor William Berkeley. The introduction described Berkeley as “uncompromising.”

Virginia groaned beneath the accumulated oppressions of Charles the Second and his insatiate minions. The profligate monarch found a fitting viceroy in the choleric and uncompromising Berkeley, who gives infamous testimony to his own character in his memorable reply to an inquiry of the English Council: “I thank God there are no free-schools, nor printing, and I hope we shall not have these three hundred years; for learning has brought disobedience into the world, and printing has divulged them and libels against the best government. God keep us from both!”

Governor Berkeley sounds a lot like some politicians today. Berkeley commissioned Sir Thomas Grantham to intercede in Bacon’s Rebellion on Virginia’s behalf. It was America’s first rebellion by colonists. Grantham took advantage of Nathaniel Bacon’s death to quickly convince rebel leaders they’d be treated with mercy, and they surrendered. Once in the custody of Governor Berkeley, the rebels were hung.