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A Form of [Two-man and Four-man] Cricket Played in Virginia

Salience Noteworthy
Location US South
Game Cricket

In an April 25, 1709 diary entry, William Byrd, owner of the Virginia plantation Westover, wrote: "I rose at 6 o'clock and said my prayers shortly. Mr. W-l-s and I fenced and I beat him. Then we played at cricket, Mr. W-l-s and John Custis against me and Mr. [Hawkins], but we were beaten. I ate nothing but milk for breakfast . . ."

On May 6 of the same year he noted: "I rose about 6 o'clock and Colonel Ludwell, Nat Harrison, Mr. Edwards and myself played at cricket, and I won a bit [presumably an eighth of a Spanish dollar]. Then we played at whist and I won. About 10 o'clock we went to breakfast and I ate some boiled rice." Another undated entry showed that cricket was not just an early-morning pastime: "About 10 o'clock Dr. Blair, and Major and Captain Harrison came to see us. After I had given them a glass of sack we played cricket. I ate boiled beef for my dinner. Then we played at shooting with arrows...and went to cricket again till dark."

Wright, Louis B., and Marion Tinling, eds., The Secret Diary of William Byrd of Westover 1709-1712 [Dietz Press, Richmond, 1941], pages 25-26 and 31. We have no page reference for the third mention of cricket, which appears in a short article on Smithsonian.com, as accessed 1/20/2007. Thanks to John Thorn for reference data [email of 2/1/2008].

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