THE HISTORY OF THE BRITISH PLANTATIONS IN AMERICA. . . . CONTAINING THE HISTORY OF VIRGINIA; WITH REMARKS ON THE TRADE AND COMMERCE OF THAT COLONY.
(London: [Printed for] the Society for the Encouragement of Learning by S. Richardson, 1738). 240 x 186 mm. (9 1/2 x 7 1/4"). 4 p.l., 187,  pp. FIRST EDITION.
Contemporary sprinkled calf, raised bands, red morocco label. With engraved device of the Society on title page and final page, engraved tailpiece, and TWO FOLDING MAPS. Church 930; Howes K-36; Sabin 37240; ESTC T115083. Front joint cracked (but the cover still firmly attached), thin half-inch chip to spine at tail of front joint, other minor signs of wear to the leather, but the original unsophisticated binding sound and pleasing. Light scattered foxing (mostly confined to margins), one leaf with a tiny hole affecting a couple of words, other trivial imperfections, but A FINE COPY INTERNALLY, the paper fresh and clean, the maps (remarkably) free from any tears.
Tracing the history of Virginia from the earliest English settlements through the first quarter of the 18th century, with valuable notes on the colony's economy and trade, this is a scarce and valuable work by a former colonial official with direct knowledge of the region. The history draws on earlier accounts, most notably the 1705 work of Jamestown-born historian Robert Beverley (ca. 1667-1722), but the more contemporary observations, including those related to agriculture and economy, come from the firsthand experiences of author William Keith (1680-1749), who went to Virginia in 1714 upon his appointment as surveyor-general of customs for the southern colonies in North America. According to ANB, he toured Virginia, the Carolinas, Pennsylvania, and Jamaica over the next two years, charming all he met. In 1717, he became governor of Pennsylvania and, ANB notes, "for five years, from 1717 to 1722, Keith was the most popular governor since the founding of the colony." During his service in the American colonies, Keith wrote reports to the British government that ANB says "helped shape royal policy well into the 1760s." Knowledge gleaned in producing these reports is shared in the present work, which features two fine maps: "A New and Correct Map of America" (measuring 560 x 475 mm.), showing North and South America, with California as an island, with inset views of Port Royal, Boston, Georgia, North Pole and a Newfoundland cod fishery, as well as "A New Map of Virginia" (measuring 340 x 235 mm.) by Thomas Fairfax, dated 1738, showing the Tidewater region of the Mid-Atlantic states, centering on Virginia, with Maryland and [New] Jersey to the north and North Carolina to the south. Thomas Jefferson was familiar with this work, remarking in "Notes on Virginia" that it is "agreeable enough in style, and passes over events of little importance." Keith intended this to be the first in a series on the British colonies in North America--thus the "End of Vol. I" notation on the final page--but the project was abandoned for lack of funds. This work is rare in the marketplace: just two copies complete with maps (one of these in a modern binding) have appeared at auction since 1991. (ST16322)