William Tryon

From Academic Kids

William Tryon (January 27,1729 to 1788) was colonial governor of the Province of North Carolina (1765-1771) and the Province of New York (1771-1780, though he did not retain much power in the colony beyond 1777).

Tryon was born at Norbury Park, Surrey, England. In 1757, when he was a captain of the First Foot Guards, he married Margaret Wake, a London heiress with a dower of £30,000. In 1764 he was appointed Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina, upon Arthur Dobbs's death in 1765 became governor pro tem., and in December of the same year received his commission as Governor of North Carolina.

Like many other pre-Revolutionary officials in America, he has generally been pictured by American writers as a tyrant. In reality, however, he seems to have been tactful and considerate, an efficient administrator, who in particular greatly improved the colonial postal service, and to have become unpopular chiefly because, through his rigid adherence to duty, he obeyed the instructions of his superiors and rigorously enforced the measures of the British government. By refusing to allow meetings of the Assembly from May 18th, 1765 to November 3, 1766, he prevented North Carolina from sending representatives to the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. To lighten the stamp tax he offered to pay the duty on all stamped paper on which he was entitled to fees. With the support of the law-abiding element he suppressed the Regulator uprising in 1768-1771, caused partly by the taxation imposed to defray the cost of the governor's fine mansion at New Bern (which Tryon had made the provincial capital), and executed seven or eight of the ringleaders, pardoning six others.

From 1771 nominally until March 22, 1780 he was Governor of New York. While he was on a visit to England the American Revolutionary War broke out, and on October 19, 1775, several months after his return, he was compelled to seek refuge on the sloop-of-war Halifax in New York Harbor, but was restored to power when the British took possession of New York City in September 1776, though his actual authority did not extend beyond the British lines. In 1777, with the rank of major-general, he became commander of a corps of Loyalists, and in 1779 invaded Connecticut and burned Danbury, Fairfield, and Norwalk.

In 1780 he returned to England, and in 1782 was promoted to lieutenant-general. He died in London.

Tryon County, New York and Tryon County, North Carolina, former counties in the USA, were named after him. His name remains attached to Fort Tryon Park in Manhattan in New York City, which was in British hands throughout most of the American Revolution and the town of Tryon, North Carolina. One of the two streets that intersect in central Charlotte, North Carolina, defining the downtown, is named Tryon Street. There is also a Tryon Road in Raleigh, North Carolina which is itself in Wake County, a county named after Tryon's wife Margaret Wake.


  • Haywood, Marshal D. Governor William Tryon and his Administration in the Province of North Carolina. Raleigh, 1903.

Preceded by:
Arthur Dobbs
Governor of the Province of North Carolina
Succeeded by:
James Hasell
Preceded by:
Lord Dunmore
Governor of the Province of New York
Succeeded by:
George Clinton (politician)
as state governor, took office in 1777

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