William Stith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Stith
3rd President of the
College of William & Mary
In office
Preceded byWilliam Dawson
Succeeded byThomas Dawson
Personal details
Died(1755-09-19)September 19, 1755
Alma materCollege of William & Mary
The Queen's College, Oxford

William Stith (1707 – September 19, 1755)[1] was an early American historian and an Anglican minister.[2] He was the third president of the College of William & Mary (1752–1755), where Stith Hall was named for him.

Early life[edit]

Stith was the son of Captain John Stith and Mary Randolph, a daughter of William Randolph (1650– 1711).[1][3][a] Stith's grandfather was Major John Stith, who participated in Nathaniel Bacon's rebellion.[1][4]

Stith was educated at the College of William & Mary's Grammar School and The Queen's College, Oxford.[2][5] On May 27, 1728, he received his B.A. degree. On April 12, 1731, while still in England, he was ordained a minister of the Anglican Church.[2] He then returned to Williamsburg.[2]


William Stith (1747) The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia: being an Essay towards a General History of this Colony, Williamsburg: William Parks.

In October 1731, he became a master of the College of William & Mary's Grammar School. He also began his role at the Virginia House of Burgesses as a chaplain.[2] Stith was a minister for 16 years at the Henrico Parish in Henrico County beginning in 1736.[2] He was also a minister in York County, Virginia of the York-Hampton Parish. In the 1740s and 1750s, three of his sermons were published.[2]

The Sinfulness and Pernicious Nature of Gaming, 1752 was preached by Stith in Williamsburg before the Virginia General Assembly on March 1, 1752.[6] The General Assembly had considered amending the 1748 Act for preventing excessive and deceitful gambling, but tabled the measure after hearing the sermon.[6] The sermon was published in 1752 and became one of the best selling titles that year.[6]

He is the author of one of the earliest histories of Virginia, The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia: being an Essay towards a General History of this Colony, published in Williamsburg by William Parks in 1747.[7][8]

He was also the College of William & Mary's third president (1752–1755) and is the namesake of Stith Hall, a residence hall on the campus.[9][10]

Marriage and children[edit]

He married his first cousin, Judith Randolph, the daughter of Thomas Randolph of Tuckahoe on July 13, 1738.[2][b] They had three daughters: Judith, Elizabeth, and Mary.[1]


  • Stith, William (1747). The History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia.


  1. ^ Goode states that his parents were Captain John Stith and Mary Randolph and that they married in 1688.[4] Page states that they had married in 1712,[3] which would have been five years after William's birth in 1707.[4][1]
  2. ^ He was also said to have married her around 1744.[1][3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gordon, Armistead C (1914). "The Stith Family". In Tyler, Lyon G. (ed.). William and Mary College Quarterly Historical Magazine. Vol. XXII. Richmond, Virginia: Whittet & Shepperson. pp. 44–45. Retrieved February 25, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Flora, Joseph M.; Vogel, Amber (June 21, 2006). Southern Writers: A New Biographical Dictionary. LSU Press. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-8071-4855-6.
  3. ^ a b c Page, Richard Channing Moore (1893). "Randolph Family". Genealogy of the Page Family in Virginia (2 ed.). New York: Press of the Publishers Printing Co. pp. 249–272.
  4. ^ a b c Goode, George Brown (1887). Virginia Cousins: A Study of the Ancestry and Posterity of John Goode of Whitby, a Virginia Colonist of the Seventeenth Century, with Notes Upon Related Families, a Key to Southern Genealogy and a History of the English Surname Gode, Goad, Goode Or Good from 1148 to 1887. J. W. Randolph & English. p. 211.
  5. ^ Tyler, Lyon Gardiner, ed. (1915). "Burgesses and Other Prominent Persons". Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. Vol. II. New York: Lewis Historical Publishing Company. pp. 330–331.
  6. ^ a b c Bond, Edward L. (2004). Spreading the Gospel in Colonial Virginia: Sermons and Devotional Writings. Lexington Books. ISBN 9780739107201. Retrieved January 11, 2020.
  7. ^ "Discovery: Stith History of the First Discovery and Settlement of Virginia". The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. 2008. Retrieved June 1, 2008.[dead link]
  8. ^ Fiske, John (1897). Old Virginia and Her Neighbours. Houghton, Mifflin and Company. pp. 255–256.
  9. ^ "William & Mary - Bryan Complex". Wm.edu. Retrieved July 2, 2016.
  10. ^ "Stith Hall". William & Mary. Retrieved January 11, 2020.