In July 1761, Robert Beverley arrived back in Virginia after 11 years at school in England, first at Beverley Grammar School, then to Wakefield, and finally to Trinity College, Cambridge. A friend at the time described him as exhibiting “the best Sense, Abilities & many Excellent Qualities.” Having left the Tidewater when he was 10 years old, he returned to an alien place. His father had died when he was away, leaving him the owner of Blandfield Plantation and its community of enslaved men and women, one of the largest in the colony. Whatever the 10-year-old Robert might have felt about slavery when he left Virginia in 1750, the 21-year-old had very decided views on the subject. #OTD in 1761, within days of his return, he expressed to a London merchant his “aversion to Slavery” as “‘something so very contradictory to Humanity.” He went on to explain that “if ever I bid adieu to Virginia it will be from that cause alone.”
Robert Beverley did “bid adieu” to Virginia, in a way, as he remained staunchly loyal to the British world that his countrymen were bent on destroying. He stated unequivocally that “I see so many Beauties and so great a display of political Wisdom in our Constitution that I cannot look upon any attempt to subvert it with Patience.” And so he retreated to Blandfield to wait out the American Revolution and never again engage in public affairs.