Who was William Byrd? (March 28, 1674 A.D – August 26, 1744 A.D)


William Byrd (March 28, 1674 A.D – August 26, 1744 A.D), political leader in colonial Virginia and ancestor of the influential Byrd family. Byrd was born in Westover, Virginia, but educated in England. William Byrd became a prominent member of the Virginia colony and returned to England as its representative.

In 1709 A.D Byrd entered Virginia’s Council of State and played a leading role in the council’s power struggle with Governor Alexander Spotswood. He founded the city of Richmond in 1737 A.D.Byrd built a large mansion in Westover and acquired a collection of fine paintings and the colony’s largest library.

Many elite members of the colony were entertained at the Westover plantation, and Byrd’s personal diaries give an interesting picture of Virginia’s aristocracy. Byrd wrote “History of the Dividing Line,” a satirical account of his expedition in 1728 A.D to survey the border between Virgina and North Carolina. This account, along with some of his other writings, was published in The Westover Manuscripts in 1841 A.D.

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