Part of the whole point of putting Encyclopedia Virginia on the web is so that we can update our history as it changes and so that we can fix mistakes when they are pointed out to us. We were alerted to one possible mistake by a reader of our entry on the Jamestown property owner and burgess Robert Beverley.
Our reader wondered about the accuracy of our entry’s claim that Beverley was “the eldest child of Major Robert Beverley (1635–1687) and his second wife, Mary Keeble Beverley.” He wrote in his e-mail:
According to a transcribed copy of the will of Major Robert Beverly published as part of the second installment of “Major Robert Beverley and His Descendants” by G. W. Stanard in the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography . . . Peter Beverley was identified as “my eldest sonne” and Robert Beverley as “my second sonne.” This contradicts the claim in your encyclopedia that Robert Beverley was the first son of Major Robert Beverley.
This is a great question and the sort of e-mail we are grateful for. That said, there’s a potential misreading going on because we didn’t exactly say that Beverley was the “first son”; we said he was the “eldest child,” and not just that, but the eldest child of Beverley and his second wife. Still, we passed the question on to an expert, who replied:
The second Robert Beverley, as is indicated at the end of the first long sentence of his biography, was the first son of the first Robert Beverley and his second wife. Peter Beverley was the only known child of the first Robert Beverley and his first wife.
So, yes, it was a misreading of the entry, but of the sort that is entirely understandable. And I point it out not to pat ourselves on the back for getting this one right (there will be occasions when we do not), but to thank the reader for calling the possibility to our attention. Our community of readers makes us accountable for errors and being on the web allows us to quickly and easily correct them.
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