Burnet, William, 1688–1729, English colonial governor in America; son of Gilbert Burnet. As governor of New York and New Jersey (1720–28), he advocated extending the trade with Native Americans, thereby seeking to bind the Iroquois to the British and keep them from French influence—a move that was to be of significance in the French and Indian Wars. He had the first English fort on the Great Lakes built at Oswego. His efforts to regulate trade were opposed by Albany merchants who made great profit in selling English goods to French traders. Burnet was embroiled in arguments with the assembly over policies and finance. After he dissolved the assembly in 1727, he was transferred to govern Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
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