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February 2009

William Byrd on Ticks, 1728

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Copyright 2009 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved. Applicable FARS/DFARS Restrictions Apply to Government Use.2009

Arch Dermatol. 2009;145(2):187. doi:10.1001/archdermatol.2008.588

William Byrd (1674-1744) was a Virginia aristocrat who, like many of his countrymen, was sent to England as a boy to complete his education. A keen amateur naturalist, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society when he was 22 years old (his first paper read before the society was, interestingly, a description of vitiligo).1 He returned to Virginia in 1696 and settled down to manage his plantation, Westover. In 1728, he led an expedition to survey the boundary line between the colonies of Virginia and North Carolina.2 As the survey party hacked its way through a wilderness of swamps, swift-flowing rivers, and impenetrable hardwood forest, he busily recorded the details of the natural phenomena they encountered. Amid his observations concerning bears, rattlesnakes, beavers, medicinal plants, and native peoples, he also discussed some of the smaller fauna of the border country.

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