The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia: Being an Essay Towards a General History of This Colony

From Wythepedia: The George Wythe Encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

by William Stith

The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia

Title page from The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia, George Wythe Collection, Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary.

Author William Stith
Editor {{{editor}}}
Translator {{{trans}}}
Published Williamsburg: Printed by William Parks
Date 1747
Edition First edition
Language English
Volumes {{{set}}} volume set
Pages viii, 331 [ie. 341], v, 34
Desc. 8vo (21 cm.)
Location Shelf C-2
  [[Shelf {{{shelf2}}}]]

William Stith (1707 – 1755) was a clergyman and historian born in Charles City County, Virginia, to Captain John Stith and Mary Randolph Stith.[1] He attended Queen's College and became an ordained priest in the Church of England before returning to Virginia.[2] In 1747, he published The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia. This work was considered especially significant because Stith diverged from the practice of other scholars by actually examining and evaluating records from the early settlement period rather than relying on stories and accounts from earlier writers. The History established Stith as a serious historian and served as a source for early Virginia history for over a century.[3] Stith went on, in 1752, to become the third president of the College of William & Mary.

Headpiece, first page of text.

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

Mentioned by George Wythe in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, April 7, 1775: "...the matters you are considering are the same that are in the appendix to Mr. Stith's History...."[4] Both Dean's Memo[5] and the Brown Bibliography[6] suggest Wythe owned the first edition of this title based on his letter. The Wolf Law Library purchased a copy of the first edition.

Description of the Wolf Law Library's copy

Bound in antique paneled calf with spine gilt and gilt morocco label. Purchased from the William Reese Company.

Images of the library's copy of this book are available on Flickr. View the record for this book in William & Mary's online catalog.

Full text

See also


  1. Susan Berg, "Life, Liberty, and No Pistole," Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Journal (Summer 2013), accessed October 1, 2013.
  2. Thad W. Tate, "Stith, William (1707-1755)" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, accessed October 1, 2013.
  3. Berg, "Life, Liberty, and No Pistole."
  4. Thomas Jefferson, Papers, ed. Julian P. Boyd (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), 164.
  5. Memorandum from Barbara C. Dean, Colonial Williamsburg Found., to Mrs. Stiverson, Colonial Williamsburg Found. (June 16, 1975), 16 (on file at Wolf Law Library, College of William & Mary).
  6. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at [ Swem Library's Special Collections Research Center.

External Links