Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Sociology and Anthropology

Committee Chair

Ronald Althouse.

Committee Co-Chair

Fred Prichard

Committee Member

Anna Elfenbein


This thesis seeks to explore and explain the role of John Lederer, a German physician and expedition leader, in the creation of the colony of Virginia. Lederer led three expeditions into the western mountains of Virginia in the years 1670-71, and was the first European to document his expeditions in writing. Sir William Berkeley, Governor of Virginia, commissioned him to explore the western frontier of Virginia in hopes of finding a short route to the East India Sea. The immense commodities, trade, and settlement possibilities within the western Virginia region eventually overshadowed this initial goal.;Following the three expeditions, Lederer's expedition journals were translated from the original Latin texts by Lord William Talbot, Baronet and published in London in 1672. The purpose of publishing the texts was to generate public and political interest in the colony. By doing so, Talbot gained much esteem for himself in the House of Lords and Berkeley gained much renown as one of the founders of the Commonwealth of Virginia, but Lederer gained little with posterity except status as a man of mystery.;This thesis will show, however, that these three men---Lederer, Talbot, and Berkeley---worked in a triumvirate of information that supported the development of the commonwealth. Virginia's future property, resources, and perils were shadowed forth in the texts of Lederer which presented valuable information concerning the nature of the wilderness and of the Native American population that continually threatened the colony. By using that information, Berkeley was capable of instituting policies and creating institutions that would help generate revenue and security in the colony. Further, Talbot's publishing of the expedition journals attracted many in pursuit of a new life to settle in the colony of Virginia.