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Byrd, William (28 March 1674–26 August 1744), author, planter, and Virginia councilor, was born on his father’s plantation in Charles City County near Richmond, Virginia, the son of William Byrd, a planter and trader, and Mary Horsmanden Filmer. Byrd was sent at age seven to England to live with his maternal uncle, Daniel Horsmanden, and to attend Felsted Grammar School in Essex under the tutelage of its headmaster, Christopher Glasscock. Byrd became well grounded in the classics, and throughout his life he read Hebrew, Greek, or Latin almost daily. In 1690 Byrd’s father sent him to the Rotterdam, the Netherlands, to learn business methods with merchants Jacob Senserff and Johannes Texelius. Not liking this situation, Byrd persuaded his father to apprentice him to the mercantile firm of Perry and Lane in London. In 1692 Byrd entered the Middle Temple to study law and in April 1695 became a licensed attorney in England....

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Fitch, Asa (24 February 1809–08 April 1879), entomologist, agriculturist, and historian, was born in Salem (Washington County), New York, the son of Asa Fitch, a physician and judge, and Abigail Martin. Fitch spent his childhood on the family farm, where he developed a fascination with natural history and a deep sense of religious conviction. He received a liberal education at academies in Salem, New York, and Bennington, Vermont, from 1822 to 1824, and in 1826 he entered the Rensselaer School (now Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute), a new school for scientific education in Troy, New York. There he learned the importance of experimenting and learning by doing, and he became convinced that economic and social enrichment would result from the application of science to the common purposes of life. In 1826 he accompanied students and faculty on a scientific tour of the recently opened Erie Canal. Under the instruction of ...