The Letterbook of John Custis IV of Williamsburg, 1717-1742

The Letterbook of John Custis IV of Williamsburg, 1717-1742

Book - 2005
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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).
Publisher: Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, 2005
ISBN: 9780945612803
Branch Call Number: F234.W7 C95 2005
Characteristics: xxiii, 271 p. : ill. ; 24 cm

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