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Forty-seven years have passed since this volume was first published; in that time a mass of source material has been made available to the historian and numerous books on early Virginia history have been published. But I believe that its main theses have not been shaken. The old belief that the Virginia aristocracy had its origin in a migration of Cavaliers after the defeat of the royalists in the British Civil War has been relegated to the sphere of myths. It is widely recognized that the leading Virginia families – the Carters, the Ludwells, the Burwells, the Custises, the Lees, the Washingtons – were shaped chiefly by conditions within the colony and by renewed contact with Great Britain.

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