Love or Lust? William Byrd II and Lucy

William Byrd II married Lucy Parke when she was nineteen years old. Their short life together has made many believe that they did not love each other, and that William enjoyed only sleeping with her. However, there are clues pointing to both  the couple’s constant fighting and that they truly loved each other. 

The two had insecurities. At age five, William II was sent to England to study, causing him to grow up with practically no interaction with his parents [1]. Lucy grew up in a broken home. Her father, Colonel Daniel Parke II, returned home with his mistress and had his wife raise his son (Treckel,165). Lucy saw William as the father she never had, and yearned for the affection and guidance she never received from her father. Being the fact William was twice her age and probably appeared to be the man who could care for her the way her father never did, Lucy accepted William’s marriage proposal and the two insecure people were married on May 4th, 1706 (Treckel, 167)


Lucy Parke Byrd

The two had many arguments, mainly due to Lucy’s “fiery and free [spirit] “(Treckel, 167) and William’s insecurities that Lucy was unable to run a household. The arguments would end with one of their many slaves receiving the punishment or backlash. They also usually ended with one of them apologizing to the other. It was usually Lucy, but occasionally William would apologize.

Lucy and William mainly showed love through sexual intercourse. Although Lucy was no always willing, she knew “that sexual union was the only way [William] knew to demonstrate his love for her”  (Treckel, 174). They even had sex when Lucy was pregnant or ill, or on top to things like a  billboard table. This lead to many miscarriages that surprisingly, William seemed completely fine about in his journals. However, he may have been trying to be strong for his wife. He did not know the best way to console her, or at least so that he cared that she lost so many children.


William Byrd II

In conclusion, William truly loved his wife. If he did not, he would not have criedas much as he did when she perished in England from smallpox at age 29.

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