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Burgess and His Famliy

  • I am a newly elected burgess, or what you would call a representative or delegate. I’m riding my horse from my farm in the Shenandoah Valley to Williamsburg, the Virginia colony’s capital. I will take my seat in the lower chamber of the General Assembly, called the House of Burgesses.

  • My bride and a slave follow me in a small carriage. The slave drives the carriage and takes care of the horses. He also waits on my wife and me. My wife is happy to leave our remote farm and visit her brother and his wife in Williamsburg.

  • My wife is anxious about her sister-in-law, who is expecting her first child this month. The rough carriage ride seems to take forever, and tries my wife’s nerves.

  • My wife and I are part of the respectable middle rank of Virginia society. Like many people where I live, I am of Scottish descent. My wife and I attend a state-sponsored Anglican church, and occasionally services at the Presbyterian meeting house.

  • We live on a modest Valley farm of 400 acres. With four slaves, we grow corn and wheat to sell, and we grow fruit and vegetables for our table.

  • Buying goods in Williamsburg’s stores and shops is more convenient than dealing with the craftsmen where we live. My wife devotes most of her time in Williamsburg to family concerns. My time is spent on political questions. What is the best way to deal with England’s recent severe treatment of the colonies? How will the other burgesses respond to my ideas? What is the future of ordinary men? What can I do now to safeguard the prospects of my children?