Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Julie Richter

Committee Members

Jay Watkins

Michael Brennan Herris


This thesis examines William Byrd II and Lucy Parke Byrd alongside John Custis IV and Frances Parke Custis as significant players in the early Virginia landscape. I base the bulk of my work on William Byrd II’s diaries, John Custis IV and Frances Parke Custis’s Marriage Agreement, and the homes of these two men. Where I do not have Lucy and Frances’s voices, I am reliant on the words of their husbands – what they did say, and at times, what they omitted. Without a clear image of the Byrds’ and Custis’ world, Lucy and Frances might appear an insignificant, but unwelcome burden to these men. The object of William Byrd and John Custis’s world was to “maintain authority;” when we reconsider what it means to succeed in that effort and examine the impact these men’s wives had on their success as patriarchs, it becomes clear that these men were only nominally successful. As the authors of surviving written documents, they get the last word, but the voices of women like Lucy Parke Byrd and Frances Parke Custis are still incredibly clear within them.

Available for download on Tuesday, April 30, 2030

On-Campus Access Only