Catalogue


The letterbook of John Custis IV of Williamsburg, 1717-1742 /
edited by Josephine Little Zuppan.
imprint
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, c2005.
description
xxiii, 271 p.
ISBN
094561280X (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, c2005.
isbn
094561280X (alk. paper)
general note
"A Madison House book."
"Published in cooperation with the Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Virginia."
catalogue key
5342471
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Reference & Research Book News, February 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Long Description
This absorbing letterbook, meticulously edited and thoroughly annotated, provides remarkable insight into the life and concerns of 18th-century colonial Virginians. We see in these 144 letters an intimate view of John Custis IV (1678-1749), best known as the father-in-law of Martha Dandridge Custis, the wife of George Washington. Custis, a third-generation Virginian, was a wealthy, influential and shrewd planter-businessman-politician who served for years on the governor's Council. The letters are especially revealing about economic life, the material culture of colonial Virginia, and the treacherous legal and financial conditions in which even important planters operated. The correspondence clearly shows how a wealthy colonial planter uses and could be misused by the British mercantile system. The letters also provide a view of the personal side of the sober and overly frugal Custis: his fashionable passion for gardening (in which he was "inferior to few if any in Virginia"); his strife-filled nine-year marriage to Frances Parke, before her death from smallpox; his uneven relationships with his son and daughter which were especially difficult concerning the financial arrangements for their marriages; his persistent ill health; and the mixed roles Custis had with his 200 slaves (as harsh taskmaster, as personal physician, and perhaps as father of a favored slave).
Main Description
This absorbing letterbook, meticulously edited and thoroughly annotated, provides remarkable insight into the life and concerns of 18th-century colonial Virginians. The letters are especially revealing about economic life, the material culture of colonial Virginia, and the treacherous legal and financial conditions in which even important planters operated. The correspondence clearly shows how a wealthy colonial planter uses and could be misused by the British mercantile system. The letters also provide a view of the personal side of the sober and overly frugal Custis: his fashionable passion for gardening (in which he was inferior to few if any in Virginia); his strife-filled nine-year marriage to Frances Parke, before her death from smallpox; and his uneven relationships with his son and daughter.

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