2 vols., 8vo, pp. [viii], x, 324; xii, 308 + folding map frontispiece in each vol. Contemporary sprinkled calf. A small group of wormholes in lower blank margin of vol. 1, sometimes stretching to connect into a short trail. Rebacked, dark red morocco labels, edges rubbed and corners worn. Engraved monogram booklabel (RS) to front pastedown of vol. 1.
Anonymously published first in 1757 and several times reprinted, this account of the European settlements in America was compiled primarily by the writer and administrator William Burke (c.1729-1798), though with some assistance. Burke had been close friends with the philosopher Edmund Burke (and his brother Richard) since Edmund had lodged at his father's house when studying in London, and they called each other cousin, but there seems to have been no traceable blood relation. The two often collaborated: 'Stylometric analysis suggests that Edmund Burke contributed a history of puritanism in old and new England to the Account, but the rest was probably by William Burke. Works by any one of the Burkes usually included contributions from one or both of the others' (ODNB, WB). 'At a time when Britain and France were on the verge of their first great war for empire this caught a tide of interest not only in the commercial consequence of the West Indian and American colonies, but also in the history of their settlement and the manners of their native peoples. As a compilation of contemporary knowledge mixed with some telling appeals to British self-interest it was well received and continued to be read by subsequent generations' (ODNB, EB).