BEVERLEY, Robert (1667-1722). Histoire de la Virginie... Par un auteur natif & habitant du pais. Traduite del'anglois. Enrichie de figures. Amsterdam: Thomas Lombrail, 1707
12mo., (6 2/8 x 3 4/8 inches). Additional engraved frontispiece title-page, 14 fine engraved plates of scenes in Virginia after originals by John White and Theodor de Bry first published in 1588 to accompany Hariot's account, folding letterpress table at end. Contemporary speckled calf, the spine in six compartments with five raised bands, red morocco lettering-piece in one, the others decorated with fine gilt tools.
Provenance: Ex-Libris Jean R. Perrette, his sale, Christie's New York, 5th April 2016, lot 418
First edition in French, first published in English in 1705. This is the earliest history of Virginia, after that of John Smith published in 1632, and the first by a native Virginian, born in Jamestown, he was a member of the House of Burgesses from 1699 until 1706, and he served as the chief clerk of the Governor's Council. "During the 1690s, Beverley lived in Jamestown and became a man of reputation and influence. He used his family connections to obtain prestigious and remunerative clerkships that in turn enabled him to add to his large inherited estate, including 6,000 acres in King and Queen County on the Mattaponi River. In the spring of 1688 Beverley was working as a copyist in the Jamestown office of the secretary of the colony and doubling as deputy clerk of James City County, but he probably lost his berth in October 1691 when Lieutenant Governor Francis Nicholson ousted William Edwards, the chief clerk of the General Court and the secretary's office...Following the fire that destroyed the statehouse in Jamestown on October 20, 1698, Peter Beverley and Robert Beverley salvaged and arranged the valuable surviving public papers. Robert Beverley resigned as chief clerk before the end of the month and was subsequently elected to represent Jamestown in the House of Burgesses in 1699 and 1700, and in 1699 he was also elected to the distinguished committee to revise the laws of the colony. In March 1703 he became, like his father and half brother before him, clerk of the House of Burgesses.
"Beverley acquired property in Jamestown and in Elizabeth City County, and he was appointed to the Elizabeth City County Court on December 27, 1700. Litigation over ownership of Elizabeth City County land resulted in an adverse decision in the General Court, and Beverley appealed the decision to the Privy Council. After he sailed for England in the summer of 1703 to prosecute the case, Francis Nicholson, who had returned to Virginia as governor, deprived him of the clerkship of the House of Burgesses and engineered his dismissal as clerk of King and Queen County...
"While in England Beverley also wrote 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. Beverley recalled later that he had reviewed for a bookseller "about six pages of paper written, which contained the account of Virginia and Carolina." But "the account was too faulty and too imperfect to be mended," so he proposed to the bookseller to "make him an account of my own country." Three French-language editions were published between 1707 and 1718, probably as promotional literature to be distributed to Protestants in French-speaking portions of Europe" (Ruggles, J., & the Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Robert Beverley (d. 1722). (2015, January 8).
The book falls into 4 parts: I. The History of the First Settlement of Virginia, and the Government thereof, to the present time. II. The Natural Productions and Conveniences of the Country, suited to Trade and improvement. III. The Native Indians, their Religion, Laws, and Customs, in War and Peace. IV. The present State of the Country, as to the Polity of the Government, and the Improvement of the Land. Howes B410. European Americana 707/18; Sabin 5116; Vail 300.