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Robert Beverley

Also Known As: "Robert Beverley", "the Historian"
Birthdate: (49)
Birthplace: Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
Death: April 21, 1722 (49)
Beverley Park, King and Queen County, Virginia
Place of Burial: Central Point, Caroline County, Virginia, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of Major Robert Beverley, of Jamestown and Mary Boyd Beverley
Husband of Anne Ursula Beverley
Father of Col. William Beverley and Ursula Dudley
Brother of Col. Peter Beverley
Half brother of Captain Harry Beverley; Mary Jones; John Beverley; William Beverley; Catherine Robinson and 2 others

Occupation: historian; author; politician
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Robert Beverley

author of "The History of Virginia: In Four Parts"

Birth: 1673 Death: 1722

LDs record

Family links:

 Robert Beverely (1641 - 1687)

 Ursula Byrd (1681 - 1698)


Burial: Jamestown Church Cemetery Jamestown James City County Virginia, USA Plot: Possibly Buried here?

Created by: P Fazzini Record added: Oct 25, 2011 Find A Grave Memorial# 79274063


Robert Beverley, Jr. (1673 – April 21, 1722) was an important historian of early colonial Virginia. He was born in Virginia and died in King and Queen County, Virginia. He was also a substantial planter of the time as well as an official in the colonial government. He was a son of Major Robert Beverley, Sr. and Mary Keeble. His wife was Ursula Byrd, daughter of William Byrd I.

Robert Beverley, second son of Maj. Robert and Mary Beverley, was born in Middlesex County, Va. His father had emigrated from Yorkshire, England, about 1663 and had become a leading tobacco planter, attorney, and militia officer. Young Robert, schooled in England, inherited his father's plantation and 6,000 acres from two half brothers. He began public life as a scrivener for the secretary of state while studying law and Virginia politics. In 1697 he married Ursula Byrd, the 16-year-old daughter of William Byrd. She died in child-birth the next year, leaving an only son, William. Beverley never remarried.

Beverley held important posts as clerk for king and Queen County and clerk of the House of Burgesses. In 1699, 1700-1702, and 1705-1706 he represented Jamestown in the House. His unrelenting quest for land led to a lawsuit, necessitating a voyage to England in 1703, where he unsuccessfully appealed his case. Writing caustic letters home, he attacked Virginia's ruling clique as his father had done before him. He accused Governor Francis Nicholson and the surveyor of customs of scheming against the colony's liberties. Beverley's quarrelsomeness, despite his concern for Virginia's welfare, cost him his clerkship of King and Queen County. With his political position undermined, he was rarely active again in public life and after 1715 retired to his plantation, Beverley Park. Though he continued to acquire land, he remained unpretentious, leading a quiet life devoted to reading and studying nature.

While in London, Beverley had read John Oldmixon's history of British North America in manuscript. Appalled by its errors, he wrote The History and Present State of Virginia (1705), which appeared in print 3 years ahead of Oldmixon's account. In the original edition (which was also translated into French) Beverley combined shrewd insights into the Virginia of his day, sharp comments about the colony's leaders, and vivid descriptions of the natural world, all written with an engaging enthusiasm for his native land. Though a section on Virginia's early history is cursory and at times inaccurate, the book as a whole remains important. Beverley drew on John Smith's General History of Virginia but sketched the colony's development to 1704, incorporating valuable observations of his own. The author's descriptive powers are best revealed in the section on the culture of Native Americans in Virginia. This sympathetic account presents the Native Americans "in their simple State of Nature, and in their enjoyment of Plenty, without the Curse of Labour," an existence which Beverley himself appeared to envy.

In his last years Beverley revised but did not improve his volume, eliminating controversial comments but sacrificing the original verve. The new edition was published in 1722, the same year his compilation of the local laws, entitled An Abridgement of the Public Laws of Virginia …, appeared. Beverley probably did not see either edition in print, as he died on April 21, 1722 _____________________________

Beverley's History and Present State of Virginia, published originally in London in 1705, is considered by many to be the most important and accurate history of early life in the Virginia colony.

Beverley took part in Lt. Governor Alexander Spotswood's 1716 "Knights of the Golden Horseshoe Expedition" to the Shenandoah Valley. Journalist John Fontaine records that on the return trip, both Beverley and his horse fell, and rolled to the bottom of a hill, but without serious injury to either. However, when Beverley published a revised edition of his History in 1722, he continued it only to 1710, so there is no known account by Beverley of this event.[1]

Concerning slavery, in the 1722 re-edition, Beverley says that whilst both black males and females were likely to work in fields, white women were not.[2]


ROBERT BEVERLEY, JR., Historian, of "Beverley Park", the eldest son of Maj. Robert Beverley, was a "Knight of the Golden Horseshoe" which was an expedition mounted under Gov. Spottswood. This expedition was the first white men to see the Shenandoah Valley. There is a monument with their names on it at Swift Run Gap. (RE: letter from Stu Vogt of Westfield, MA.)

Until about 1970's, the Beverley ancestors still resided at the ancestral estate "Blandfield" in Essex County. However, they had to sell it to pay the taxes.

ROBERT married URSULA BYRD, the daughter of Col. William Byrd of Westover. Their son William married Elizabeth Bland. ( It is their daughter SUSANNA BEVERLEY who married BENJAMIN WINSLOW, SR., and are 5th great grandparents to Barbara Ballard of this record.)

He wrote "History of Virginia" and it was published in London in 1705, and a second edition in 1722. Robert Beverley Jr, known as historian of Virginia was the second son of Maj. Robert Beverley and his wife Mary (Keeble) Beverley, He was born on his fathers plantation in Middlesex Co., went to England for his education and was there at the time of father's death.

Quoting from Vol II. Tappahannock, Virginia, May 1977 article on Major Robert Beverley and His Three Sons: Peter, Robert and Harry, by Charles W. H. Warner: "Upon returning to Virginia, he enrolled himself as a volunteer scrivener in the office of the Secretary of the Colony. Soon he became clerk of a legislative committee. By 1696, he had achieved the important posts of Clerk of the General Court, Clerk of the Council and Clerk of the General Assembly. As a freeholder of Jamestown he served in the House of Burgesses, in the Assemblies of 1699, 1700-2 and 1705-06.

"He inherited the "Poropotank" plantation in Gloucester Co. and "Beverley Park" in King and Queen Co. He served also as Clerk of this County. Robert Beverley, Jr. owned considerable other property.

"In June of 1703, Robert Beverley went to England to protect his interest in a litigation there pending before the Privy Council, and was detained for eighteen months in this matter. He was invited by a bookseller to criticize the manuscript of Oldmixon's British Empire in America. Stimulated by his litigation and resenting Oldmixon's account of Virginia in his book, he wrote his own book--History of Present State of Virginia. This was published in London in 1705, bearing in the front the Arms of Virginia and "by R. B. gent." The book was divided into four sections: The History of the First Settlement of Virginia and the Government thereof, to the present time; The Natural Productions and Conveniences of the country, suited to Trade and Improvement; The Native Indians, their Religion, Laws and Customs in War and Peace; The present State of the Country as to the Polity of the Government and the Improvements of the Land."

Robert Beverley, Jr. is the ancestor of all the "Blandfield" Beverleys, the Wellfords of "Sabine Hall" and of "Kendale," in Essex County. The mother of Senator Harry Flood Byrd, Jr. was of the "Blandfield" Beverley family.

Robert Beverley, also known as Robert Beverley Jr. or Robert Beverley the historian, was a member of the House of Burgesses (1699–1706) and clerk of that body, and served as chief clerk of the governor's Council. He is best known, however, as author of The History and Present State of Virginia, In Four Parts (1705), the first published history of a British colony by a native of North America. Probably born in Middlesex County, Beverley worked as a clerk in Jamestown, using family connections to advance politically while acquiring substantial wealth. In 1703 he sailed to England to appeal a suit he lost before the General Court, and there he penned his history, a collection of personal history, official accounts, and material borrowed from others. Beverley self-consciously identified himself as a Virginian and used the books to settle political scores. In particular, he was highly critical of Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson, who made sure that Beverley lost his positions as clerk of the House of Burgesses and of King and Queen County. In his later years, Beverley retired to his large estate, Beverley Park, where he experimented with wine-making. He may have accompanied Alexander Spotswood on his journey to the crest of Blue Ridge Mountains. Beverley died in 1722.


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Robert Beverley's Timeline

Jamestown, James City County, Virginia
Age 24
Drysdale Parish, King and Queen County, Province of Virginia, (Present USA)
Age 25
April 21, 1722
Age 49
King and Queen County, Virginia
Central Point, Caroline County, Virginia, United States