Edward Doyley led English Jamaica for most of its first decade. Sent as part of a military force intent on conquering the island, he rose to a position of command in the army as a result of his survival and seniority. Eventually he took charge of the navy and civilian affairs as well. Wielding theoretically vast powers he lacked official authorization from any central authority for much of his tenure. His correspondence requesting support for the island reveals the needs of a newly conquered colony, enumerating the requirements that an expanding imperial center must fill as England moved more decisively toward engagement in the wider world. Scholarly debates over state building that emphasize military and naval expansion as a driving force, and debates about state formation focusing on negotiations between central and local authorities, speak to the experience of early Jamaica. Doyley's circumstances place him in a position between the two ideal situations described in that literature.