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In 1627 Kirke's father and several London merchants formed a company to encourage trade and settlement on the St. Lawrence River. France and England were at war (see: Thirty Years War) and the Kirke family took it upon themselves to expel the French from North America
Kirke returned in 1629 and received the French surrender of Quebec but was ordered to return the colony to the French in 1632 as King Charles I of England had agreed to return France's territories after Louis XIII paid his wife's dowry. As a consolation, Kirke was knighted in 1633 and in 1637 he and his partners were given a royal charter giving them possession of Newfoundland with Kirke as Proprietary Governor. This charter superseding an earlier charter that granted the Avalon Peninsula of the island to George Calvert, 1st Baron Baltimore as Baltimore was deemed to have abandoned his colony.
Kirke took possession of Ferryland ejecting William Hill, who had been proprietary governor on behalf of Cćcilius Calvert, who had succeeded as Baron Baltimore on the death of his father. Kirke came into conflict with migratory fishermen and was recalled to England in 1651 on charges of violating the charter and not handing over taxes he had collected on behalf of the government. He was found not guilty but . Calvert, meanwhile, went to court to challenge Kirke's charter and his seizure of the Province of Avalon and Kirke was imprisoned and is thought to have died in jail.
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