He graduated from Oxford University in 1597. While at university, he gained admission to Gloucester Hall and the Middle Temple.
After some service in the Dutch wars he joined the Virginia expedition which sailed December 20, 1606. His "Discourse of the Plantation of the Southern Colonie in Virginia, " presenting the fullest account of the voyage and the events of the settlement down to Newport's departure, was subsequently abridged and printed by Purchas.
In September 1609, he succeeded Smith as governor, the urgency of Ratcliffe, Archer, and Martin and the importunity of the soldiers having prevailed upon him to relinquish his intention of returning to England for his health. For his fame's sake, the decision to remain was unfortunate. Granted that he was a fighting man rather than a skilled executive and disciplinarian, it is unjust to assume, as his detractors have done, that the destitution which befell the colony during "the starving time" was attributable chiefly to Percy's maladministration.
In April 1612 Percy left Virginia, and, although retaining landed interests there for several years, apparently never returned. Some time after 1622 he wrote for his generous brother, Northumberland, "A Trewe Relacyon of the 60 cedeinges and Ocurrentes of Momente wch have Hapnd in Virginie. " to justify himself against an account by an unnamed author, presumably Smith. First printed entire in Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine (April 1922), it is valuable for its new light on certain phases of events in Virginia between 1609 and 1612.
Of his later life little is known, save that about 1625 he was fighting again in the Netherlands, where in 1627 he commanded a company, and that he died in England in 1632.
He won the good opinion of his fellows through his industry, courage, and character.
He was sickly for much of his life, possibly suffering from epilepsy or severe asthma.
According to one version he was unmarried, to the other - he married Anne Floyd.