Friday, January 4, 2019

Gardening Books in Early America - Owned by George Wythe 1726-1806

George Wythe (1726-1806) was a Virginia lawyer, educator, judge & statesman. Educated by his mother & briefly studying at the College of William & Mary. Wythe studied law with Stephen Dewey & was admitted to the bar at age 20 in 1746. Named attorney general of Virginia in 1753, Wythe later served in the House of Burgesses 1755-1775, representing Williamsburg, the College of William & Mary, & Elizabeth City County. Elected a representative to the Second Continental Congress, Wythe served until 1777. He supported & signed the Declaration of Independence.

Returning to Virginia, Wythe was elected Speaker of the House of Delegates, & worked to draw up the Virginia constitution, overhaul the laws of the state, & design the state seal. In 1779, he became professor of law at the College of William & Mary (making him the first official law professor in America), formalizing his role as a prominent educator (his students included Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall & Henry Clay).
George Wythe House in Colonial Williamsburg

Wythe was named a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, but left Philadelphia early due to his wife's final illness. In 1789, Wythe was named judge of Virginia's Court of Chancery; he moved to Richmond in 1791, & lived there for the remainder of his life. Wythe was poisoned by a grandnephew in late May, 1806, & died on 8 June after an agonizing illness.

Wythe bequeathed his extensive library of law, classics & other books to Thomas Jefferson, a longtime friend who was serving as president when Wythe died in 1806.  Among Wythe's garden books was

In Latin, essays of classic garden & farm writers.  Rei rvsticae avctores Latini veteres, M. Cato, M. Varro, L. Colvmella, Palladivs: priores tres, e vetustiss. editionibus; quartus, e veteribus membranis aliquammultis in locis emendatiores: cum tribus indicubus, capitum, auctorum, & rerune ac verborum memorabilium ... Ex Hier - Bequeathed by Wythe to Thomas Jefferson in 1806. Sold by Jefferson to Congress in 1815

An Almanac Purchased by Wythe from the offices of the Virginia Gazette, 21 November 1764 (1/3 sh., through Mrs. Drummond), Daybooks, 1764-66.

The botanic garden : a poem, in two parts. With philosophical notes  Erasmus Darwin  New-York : Printed by T. &. J. Swords ..., 1798.

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