BYRD, William (1674-1744), Virginia Planter . Autograph letter signed ("W Byrd") [to William Blathwayt], London, 27 June 1715. 2 pages, 8vo, integral leaf with endorsement , fine. VIRGINIA PLEADS FOR QUITRENTS. A fine letter, written shortly after By...
Estimate: US$2,000 - US$3,000
Price realised: US$5,640
BYRD, William (1674-1744), Virginia Planter . Autograph letter signed ("W Byrd") [to William Blathwayt], London, 27 June 1715. 2 pages, 8vo, integral leaf with endorsement , fine. VIRGINIA PLEADS FOR QUITRENTS. A fine letter, written shortly after Byrd arrived in London to serve as receiver-general for the Council of State. Here, he details the situation of the colony of Virginia and its need to collect quitrents (a land tax). He writes: "That affair [the collection of quitrents] is now become more necessary than ever, by reason that the Revenue of 2 shillings...is fallen so far...that one years Salarys remain unpaid. The accompts will come shortly from Col o Ludwell, in w[hich] you will see the danger that Government will be in of being Bankrupt, unless the King will please to grant the Quitrents to help support it." Byrd, who laid out the city of Richmond, played a very prominent role in Virginia politics though his long life and kept an important diary. -- BYRD, William. Autograph letter signed ("W Byrd") to his brother, London, 16 October 1716. 1 page, small 4to, browning. DANGERS TO THE TOBACCO CROP. Byrd, one of the largest landowners in Virginia whose Westover plantation produced substantial tobacco, expresses alarm over damage to neighboring farms' crop: "We are frightened by some letters just come to hand ... with an account of great desolation made amongst our Tobacco in the upper parts of Pomunky by a gust of hail follow'd by an inundation of rain." Noting damage done to plantations of Mr. Pages, Mr Wormley and Colonel Bassett, he states; "I am so near to these Gentlemen, that I have not that good opinion of my fortune as to hope to have escaped, when they suffer'd so much...I will be glad to hear how it has fared with me on this occasion, prepar'd to hear the worst with resignation." Byrd observes that "Our Clymate [ sic ] grows very unkind for Tob o, and seems to betoken to us that we ought to make less of it...advise all my overseers, if I have any Tob o left, to strip all that is very large or very small, for only the middleing [ sic ] Tob o is acceptable in leafe [sic]." Although tobacco had been the life blood of the early Chesapeake colonies and helped to create many fortunes, by the early 1700s the crop, which was traditionally difficult to cultivate, was decreasing in value. Together two items . Letters of this eminent colonial Virginian are rare. (2)
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