Sir William Berkeley – Interview with Dr. Warren Billings

Virginia history is filled with many important names, dates, and events. One of those great names who influenced much of 17th Century Virginia is Sir William Berkeley. John Smith is more famous and certainly influenced Jamestown’s early survival, but Berkeley took the struggling colony and moved it into a position that the later First Families of Virginia inherited and made into a powerhouse.

Berkeley is a bridge. But he’s no ordinary bridge. For the time in question, he was an ornate spectacle that shined in a bleak world. His work ensured that the rule of law would expand and remain. He instigated building, better crops, better production, and expanded liberty through local courts and free trade. His work attracted a higher class that might otherwise have never come to the colony, but that class soon plagued him. They ultimately brought him down in the end.

Berkeley’s life spans many worlds, pre-Commonwealth England, the English Civil War, The Interregnum, the Restoration, the Powhatan Wars, Matthews-Claiborne Virginia, Dutch Wars, and Bacon’s Rebellion. He played a part in it all, and above all else, he left his mark on Virginia’s landscape.

No one speaks of this pivotal figure more completely than Dr. Warren Billings, my guest for this episode. Tune in and learn more about this amazing 17th Century figure’s influence on Virginia’s History.



  1. Billings, Warren M. Magistrates and Pioneers: Essays in the History of American Law. Clark, New Jersey, 2011.
  2. Billings, Warren M. The Papers of Sir William Berkeley, 1606–1677. Richmond, Va., 2007.The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century: A Documentary History of Virginia, 1606–1700. Revised edition. Chapel Hill, N.C, 2007.
  3. Billings, Warren M. Sir William Berkeley and the Forging of Colonial Virginia. Baton Rouge, La., 2004.
  4. Billings, Warren M. A Little Parliament: The Virginia General Assembly in the Seventeenth Century. Richmond, Va., 2004.
  5. Billings, Warren M. A Law Unto Itself? Essays in the New Louisiana Legal History. Edited with Mark F. Fernandez. Baton Rouge, La., 2001.
  6. Editor, Robert Joseph Pothier, A Treatise on Obligations Considered from a Moral and Legal View. Union, N.J, 1999. (Facsimile reprint of a classic early American legal work, for which Dr. Billings wrote an introductory essay and furnished the source text.)
  7. An Uncommon Experience: Law and Judicial Institutions in Louisiana, 1803–2003. Edited with Judith Kelleher Schafer. Lafayette, La.: Center for Louisiana Studies, 1997.
  8. Billings, Warren M. In Search of Fundamental Law: Louisiana’s Constitutions, 1812–1974. Edited with Edward F. Haas. Lafayette, La, 1993.
  9. Billings, Warren M. Virginia’s Viceroy: Their Majesties’ Governor and Captain-General, Francis Howard, Baron Howard of Effingham. Fairfax, Va. 1991.
  10. Billings, Warren M. Jamestown and the Founding of the Nation. Gettysburg, Pa., 1990.
  11. Billings, Warren M. The Papers ofFrancis Howard, 5th Baron ofEffingham, 1643–1695. Richmond, Va., 1989.
  12. Colonial Virginia: A History. Written with John E. Selby and Thad W. Tate. White Plains, N.Y, 1986.
  13. Billings, Warren M. Historic Rules of the Supreme Court of Louisiana, 1813–1879. Lafayette, La., 1985.
  14. Billings, Warren M. The Old Dominion in the Seventeenth Century: A Documentary History of Virginia, 1606–1689. Chapel Hill, N.C, 1975.
  15. Billings, Warren M. “Virginia’s deploured condition”, 1660-1676 : The Coming of Bacon’s Rebellion. DeKalb: Norther Illinois University, 1968. Dr. Billing’s 1968 Thesis and where to access it.


Berkeley Signature



All photography used on this site is owned and copyrighted by the author unless otherwise noted. The featured image is of Dr. Warren Billings.

Music used for this episode – Louis Armstrong and the Mills Brothers,”Carry Me Back to Old Virginia” available on iTunes, and “La Rejoussiance” from George Frideric Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks HWV 351 performed by Sir Charles Mackerras and the London Symphony Orchestra, also available on iTunes.

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