London: R. Parker, 1705. First edition of this important history of Virginia, the first to be written by a native of North America. In his bibliography U.S.IANA. Howes writes: "After John Smith, the first account of this colony, the first one penned by a native and the best contemporary record of its aboriginal tribes and of the life of its early settlers" [Howes B410]. From Encyclopedia Virginia: "Robert Beverley 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. In 1703 he sailed to England to appeal a suit he lost before the General Court, and there he penned this 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. No prior author identified himself so clearly as a Virginian. 'I am an Indian, and don’t pretend to be exact in my language,” Beverley wrote in the preface. 'But I hope the Plainness of my Dress, will give him [the reader] the kinder Impressions of my Honesty, which is what I pretend to.'
When it first appeared in London, the book was three hundred pages of text, accompanied by fourteen engravings, and divided into four sections titled as Books: “The History of the First Settlement of Virginia,” “The Natural Productions and Conveniencies of the Country,” “The Native Indians,” and “The Present State of the Country.” It is an unmatched source for the Virginia of its time—an amalgam of personal observations and stories heard, material borrowed from published and unpublished accounts, and official reports. He also included significant portions from the unpublished writings of several other Virginians. The early section of the history relied heavily on Captain John Smith‘s writings, but the later sections on politics, Native Americans, and the flora, fauna, and agricultural products of the colony used several sources. "
Bound in contemporary brown leather with gilt rulings to covers and gilt titling to spine. Covers are rubbed and bumped with light wear around edges. Slight loss to head of spine. Front cover is partly detached but still holding and the text block is tight save for the free endpapers, which are browned and partially torn, Rear hinge is cracked and there is offsetting to both pastedowns. Interior pages are clean and bright. With fourteen plates, a frontispiece, and a fold-out list providing statistics from 1703 for the counties of the Virginia colony. Engravings were done by the French engraver Simon Gribelin. A very good copy of this valuable early account of the colony of Virginia. Measures 7.25 x 4.34 inches. Book One: 104 pages; Book Two: 40 pages; Book Three: 64 pages Table of Contents: 19 pages with errata list on the verso of the last page; Book Four: 83 pages. AMERSTATEHIST/082423.