The recent acquisition of seven letters written by Sir Peyton Skipwith and one by Sir Gray Skipwith reveal what Sir Peyton thought of his wife Lady Jean’s library. The library is featured in an exhibit, Exceptional in Any Age, at Swem Library that will run through October 2016.
Swem Library’s Special Collections holds the library of St. George Tucker. The library has been described by Jill M. Coghlan (“The Library of St. George Tucker” (M. A. Thesis College of William and Mary. Department of History. 1973.) In her work, she revealed that the library holds a bit more than one-half of the books listed in Tucker’s estate. As would be expected from a person who was a professor of law and judge, one-third of the books were legal. But Tucker’s tastes also encompassed poetry, astronomy, travel, and history. There were only four theological books and, for the most part, Tucker steered away from political works.
Bishop William Meade graduated at the top of his class at Princeton. He studied for the Episcopal ministry at a time when the fortunes of the Church in Virginia were at a nadir after the disestablishment caused by the Revolutionary War. He was ordained by Bishop James Madison who was also serving as President of the College of William and Mary. Along with Bishop Richard Channing Moore, he led a revival of the Church along evangelical lines. In 1841, Meade became Bishop of Virginia. He died in 1862.
Parents keep their children’s letters and drawings, now often putting them on the refrigerator. Unless the children were sent away for education, in the eighteenth and nineteenth-century, most stayed close to home and probably only wrote if a parent were away. There are some letters in our collection written by older students away at boarding school or college, but letters by very young children are few.