William Byrd II

William Byrd II

William Byrd II (28 March 1674 – 26 August 1744) was a planter and author from Charles City County, Virginia. He is considered the founder of Richmond, Virginia.


William Byrd II was born at Westover Plantation in Charles City County, Virginia, and educated at Felsted School, England, for the law. He was a member of the King's Counsel for 37 years. He returned to the Colony following his schooling in England, lived in lordly estate on his plantation, Westover Plantation, and gathered the most valuable library in the Virginia Colony, numbering some 4000 books. He was the founder of Richmond and provided the land where the city was laid out in 1737. His father, Colonel William Byrd I, came from England to settle in Virginia.

William Byrd II was a fellow of the Royal Society of Great Britain. He was the author of the "Westover Manuscripts", published in 1841 under three titles, "The History of the Dividing Line, A Journey to the Land of Eden", and "A Progress to the Mines", and most famously, "The Secret Diaries of William Byrd of Westover", all remarkable for their style, wit, keen observation, and intrinsic interest to all. His writings have been published in later editions.

Byrd's son, William Byrd III, inherited his family land but chose to fight in the French and Indian War rather than spend much time in Richmond. After he squandered the Byrd fortune, Byrd III parceled up the family estate and sold lots of convert|100|acre|km2 in 1768.

Byrd Park in Richmond is named for William Byrd II. He is related to the explorer Richard Evelyn Byrd, for whom Richard Evelyn Byrd Flying Field (the original name for Richmond International Airport) was named, as well as Virginia Governor and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd Jr.

William Byrd II was buried at Westover Plantation.


Byrd's diaries were discovered in the 19th century and describe his daily life and the treatment of his slaves.


The "Westover Manuscripts" (1841), comprising :
* "The History of the Dividing Line"
* "A Journey to the Land of Eden"
* "A Progress to the Mines"
* "The Secret Diaries of William Byrd of Westover"


External links

* [http://virtualology.com/apwilliambyrd/ Biography at Virtualology.com (under his father)]
* [http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=680]
* [http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7532012 William Byrd II] at Find-A-Grave

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