Byrd Diary Paper
February 19, 2008
The Worldview of William Byrd II of Westover
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of a person is their private life. I know that I do different things when I am alone or with close friends, which leads many of us to wonder what William Byrd, a wealthy Virginia planter, did in both his social and private sides of life, as well as what prompted him to write the various statements in his diary.
At first glance, William Byrd II gave me the impression of a spoiled, rich boy who feels he can do as he pleases. In reality, he did do what he pleased since he was a major Virginia planter and owner of many slaves. His hard work consisted of writing letters to England or talking to the other council members, considering the fact that if he was not doing either of those tasks, then he was walking around his plantation, reading in his private library, entertaining guests, or gambling away his money in some game.
If I had a nickel for every time he said the phrase good health, good thoughts, and good humor, thanks be to God Almighty, then I would easily be much wealthier than Byrd. However, this statement does show us that he was a religious man, as well as the fact that he prays every morning and evening. I did notice that he would occasionally neglect his prayers, and it seems as if he simply treats his prayers as chores, and some days he really does not want to do that chore.
Although he may skip his daily chores of praying, he does attend church, and some days he is the one who must read the sermon, since many people (anyone without wealth) could not read or write. However, a few times he mentioned that he did not invite anyone back to his manor after church. I think he believes that people would attend church so that they would be invited to Byrd’s estate, which in turn made their trip to church completely useless if they did not really want to be there.
There were a few times when he mentioned...