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Legacy Library: Col. John Baylor

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CollectionsYour library (106), Virginia Gazette Daybooks (33), Letterbooks of John Baylor III (14), Estate Inventory of John Baylor III (71), All collections (106)

ReviewsNone

TagsLiterature (25), Religion (18), History (16), Languages (11), Agriculture (10), Classics (10), Great Britain (10), Essays (10), Politics and Government (9), Reference (7) — see all tags

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About meColonel John Baylor III (1705-1772), Virginia landowner and one of the wealthiest men and largest landowners of pre-Revolutionary Virginia. Baylor was educated at Putney Grammar School, Middlesex, England, and at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

After returning to Virginia from England in 1726, Baylor built a plantation house, Newmarket, in Caroline County (named for the English race track). Baylor married Frances Lucy Walker (1728-1783), and the two had eight children who survived. Baylor served as a church warden and vestryman from 1752-1761, and sat in the House of Burgesses from 1742-1752 and 1756-1765. He was also a justice of the peace for Caroline County.

Baylor died leaving a vast estate, but also significant debts, which passed (along with Baylor's library), to his son John Baylor IV.

About my libraryWorks and other information included in Baylor's LT catalog are drawn from several sources, including the inventory of his library (a transcript of which is preserved in the proceedings of a later court case, Daingerfield v. Rootes); his letterbooks, 1749-65, in the Baylor Family Papers at the Virginia Historical Society; and the daybooks of the Virginia Gazette, 1750-52 and 1764-66.

Those books not purchased in Virginia were ordered from London merchants with whom Baylor had business dealings. Thomas Katheder suggests that Col. Baylor, an avid reader of the English book review literature of the time, ordered some titles based on the reviews they received. Col. Baylor also purchased many books for the education of his children, and in pursuit of his horse-racing/breeding interests (in 1764 he paid 1,000 guineas for the racehorse Fearnought, the highest price anyone in colonial America ever paid for a horse).

Colonel Baylor's eldest son John Baylor IV inherited his father's library, and added significantly to it. His collection was drawn from his father's books, plus those he bought both at home and abroad during his lifetime. He is known to have purchased a large number of books during his time in England and France; his son later said that Baylor had returned with from Europe with "a fine private Library."

John Baylor IV's library is known to have included many more works ("twelve to thirteen hundred volumes" according to his will), more than half of which were probably acquired during his adult life; unfortunately, the majority of these cannot be identified based on available sources. Baylor's library was sold off quickly in the months before his death (to satisfy creditors), and no complete inventory was taken at that time. Thomas Rootes III, the administrator of Baylor's estate, said that he sold the vast bulk of the library for the paltry sum of $227.

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The titles and information included in this library are drawn from Thomas Katheder, The Baylors of Newmarket: The Decline and Fall of a Virginia Planter Family. Bloomingon, Ind., and New York: iUniverse, 2009. The book is an in-depth and excellent analysis of the Baylor library, and is highly recommended for anyone interested in this collection.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Do you know of additional books which should be included here? Please contact Libraries of Early America coordinator Jeremy Dibbell.

GroupsLibraries of Early America

Real nameCol. John Baylor

LocationNewmarket, Caroline County, VA

Favorite authorsNot set

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/JohnBaylorIII (profile)
/catalog/JohnBaylorIII (library)

Member sinceSep 27, 2009

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