Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Library of William Byrd at Westover Plantation #vagenealogy #virginiapioneersnet

The Library of William Byrd at Westover

William Byrd was known as one of the most eminent men of affairs in Old Virginia. His father came to Virginia a few years before the Rebellion of Nathaniel Bacon, and bought the famous estate of Westover on the James River and in Charles City County. For anyone who has visited this old plantation, it yet stands in its magnificence amongst a flora of English holly bushes. Colonel Byrd inherited a vast estate from his uncle which included the present site of Richmond. He sympathized strongly with his neighbor, Nathaniel Bacon, and held a command under him; but after the collapse of the rebellion he succeeded in making his peace with the angry Royal Governor Berkeley. Byrd soon became one of the most important men in the colony, and was commissioned receiver-general of the royal revenues. Upon his death in 1704, his son succeeded him in this office. The son studied law in the Middle Temple and was made a fellow of the Royal Society. Also, he served on the Colonial Council for many years. He lived in the gracious splendor of his estate of Westover where it was known that he accumulated a library. The library contained 3,625 volumes, classified nearly as follows: History, 700; Classics, etc., 650; French, 550; Law, 350; Divinity, 300; Medicine, 200; 245 Scientific, 225; Entertaining, etc., 650.229. This must have been one of the largest collections of books made in the colonial period. In 1727 he was one of the commissioners for determining the boundary between Virginia and North Carolina. In the journeys connected with that work he selected the sites where the towns of Richmond and Petersburg were after wards built; and he wrote a narrative of his proceedings so full of keen observations on the people and times as to make it an extremely valuable contribution to history.

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