The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture

By John C. Miller | Go to book overview

Marriage

William Byrd

In 1706, Byrd married Lucy Parke, one of the two legitimate daughters of Colonel Parke, a Restoration rake who had made Virginia his temporary residence. Life with Lucy proved to be a succession of quarrels, recriminations and tantrums--always quickly followed, however, by reconciliations. In his diary (written in cipher and obviously never intended for publication), Byrd invariably attributes these quarrels to his wife's perverse and unpredictable temper: he is always in the right and she is always in the wrong. While it is true that Lucy had inherited the full measure of emotional instability that ran in the Parke family, it is also clear that the fault was not wholly on her side: Byrd was constantly trying to assert his superiority, even to the length of cheating when playing cards with her. Whatever the cause, Westover was the scene of some harrowing outbreaks of matrimonial strife. They ended abruptly in 1716 when Lucy Byrd died of smallpox in England.


April 8, 1709

I rose after 6 o'clock this morning and read a chapter in Hebrew and 150 verses in Homer's last work. I said my prayers and ate milk for breakfast. I danced my dance. My wife and I had another foolish quarrel about my saying she listened on the top of the stairs, which I suspected, in jest. However, I bore it with patience and she came soon after and begged my pardon. I settled my accounts and read some Dutch. Just before dinner Mr. Custis came and dined with us. He told us that my father Parke instead of being killed was married to his housekeeper which is more improbable. He told us that the distemper continued to rage extremely on the other side the Bay and had destroyed abundance of people. I did not keep to my rule of eating but one dish. We played at billiards and walked about the plantation. I said my prayers and had good humor, good health, and good thoughts, thanks be to God Almighty. The Indian woman died this evening, according to a dream I had last night about her.

____________________
The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover, 1709-1712. Edited by L. B. Wright and Marion Tinling.

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The Colonial Image: Origins of American Culture
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 5
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 15
  • Part I - Arrivals 41
  • The Plymouth Plantation 43
  • A Description of New England 66
  • The New English Canaan 76
  • Letters 77
  • The Crossing to Pennsylvania! 83
  • Part II - Daily Life 99
  • Pirates in Plymouth 101
  • Thomas Morton of Merrymount 103
  • The Merrymount Colony 108
  • Edifying Incidents 113
  • An Exemplary Christian 115
  • Inoculation for Smallpox 118
  • Courtship 132
  • Marriage 141
  • On Taking a Mistress 154
  • The Speech of Polly Baker 156
  • Riding through Virginia 159
  • Part III - God and the Devil 167
  • Religious Tolerance 169
  • In Defence of Intolerance 175
  • Witchcraft in Salem 179
  • Witchcraft in Salem 185
  • Witchcraft in Salem 190
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman 193
  • Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God 207
  • Personal Narrative 212
  • Part IV - The Indians 221
  • The Indians in Virginia 223
  • Pocahontas 231
  • The Pequot War 239
  • The Pequot War 244
  • Indian Customs and Manners 248
  • Captured by Indians 257
  • Part V - The South 291
  • Virginia 293
  • History of the Dividing Line 310
  • Part VI - Literature 351
  • Anne Bradstreet 353
  • Michael Wigglesworth 357
  • Edward Taylor 367
  • Bacon's Epitaph 370
  • Ebenezer Cook 372
  • Benjamin Franklin 377
  • Part VII - Four Colonial Views 387
  • Itinerarium Dr. Alexander Hamilton 389
  • Autobiography 419
  • Journal 437
  • Letters from an American Farmer 479
  • Bibliography 499
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