Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

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Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, July 14, 1720

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, July 14, 1720, about his pleasure at the good reports on his sons' progress at school in England and that he is determined that they should be raised in the Church of England. He expresses shock at the cost of their education and that he thinks that he may move them out of the city to a good but less expensive school, and comments on how little his education had cost his brother during the six years he spent in England. He notes what the colonists have learned about the "South Sea Stock," about Captain Baily Kent's loading of his ship, and presses Dawkins to find employment for the sons of Captain Adam Graves. His "Controversy" [law suit] with [Thomas] Wise has nearly concluded, he has little interest in the "bank" observations Dawkins has sent, and adds some comments on the estate of "old Hammerton" as Pinchback Hammerton is going to England to deal with the estate's problems. Dawkins' debtors in the colony have sent tobacco to him this year, but Mark Atkins has recently died with no estate of value. He concludes that he has become a "Great Smoaker," asks Dawkins to send him yearly a small box of tobacco, and requests his sister-in- law, Mary Swan's, small debts to Dawkins be paid from his account.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, July 14, 1720

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 14. 1720

Mr. William Dawkins

Sir -- --

     Yors. of the 5th of April came to hand but
Yesterday I shall be glad the shoes &c, may gett [sic] to me time
Enough for my occasions -- --

     The health of my Sons & their Improvement in Learning
and manners is one of the Greatest blessings I can meet with
in this world, let others take what cources [sic] they please in the
bringing up their posterity, I resolve The Principles of our holy
religion shall be instilled into mine betimes, as I am of the
Church of England way so I Desire they Should be but the high
flown up Top notions & the great Stress that is laid upon Ceremo
nies any farther than decency & conformity are what I can
=not come into The reason of, Practical Godliness is the Substance
these are but the Shell, -- --

     I come now to their Expenses. I find You have gon [sic]
beyond the bounds of Your proposal, Your setting Down Every thing
in particular is very sattisfactory [sic] and what I must always desire
The Character I have of their master pleases me well Enough
and their improvements I hope answers my Desire also but their
Expenses Staggers me very much, Landon has bin there
but half a Year, I observe nothing paid for his board,
How these things compote [sic] with Your proposals of 40 pound
per annum I can [not] recconcile nor shall not be able
to hold out at This rate, I have good Intelligence that
further from the City they may have as good an Education
for less than half the money and thither they must go
If You can be no better husband for Them. There is
Several Strange Articles in their Accounts Mr. Harrison
The Apothecary a person I know very well £7 for poor
Charles's Physick I dare say 7/ would have paid for It all
The world is Strangely alter'd sure since I was Young, I
lived with old Mr. Baily Six Years I never stood my brother
in £30 in any one Year of the time It is in vain I
know to run into particulars, I'm unwilling to order
The remove of them at once but to that It must come
I fear,

     All our letters are full of the Stock Jobbing
Trade, The South Sea Stock to advance so much in so
Short a time is very surprizing all these things are Mystiries [sic]
to me I must leave them to clarer [sic] heads. pray God
Send us a General peace all the world over & the continuance
of It Through my Days Then which nothing is can be a Greater blessing

      Captain [Baily] Kent has made a little more haste than he did last
Year in Loading If God blesses him with a good Passage he will
be able to gett [sic] him into the old Tract again

     I am really sorry for the two Young Graves's laying
Idle so long. for Ben's part I'm sattisfyd [sic] he deserves an Employ as well
as any body at all, Surely for the Sake of their good Father as
well as their own, You will Exert Your self in getting them into
some proper business

     The heaviest part of my Controversy with Wise is
already over, I shall be contented to Stay Your leizure for the
Conclusion of what's behind,

     I take notice of Your observat [ion] s about the bank
for That Little Interest I have there must Expect to meet with
no better fate then other men do

     Pinchback Hammerton tells Mr. Walker
he's coming over hither to look for his right. Walker
as one of the Ex[ecuto] rs of old Hammerton still keeps the
remaining p[ar] t. of the Estate in his hands to secure
himself ag [ain] st. a protested bill of Hammertons that
is lying out In James rivr. [sic] this is all
that I can say abt. that Affair and pray let Mr.
Hollis be acquainted with It, It cannot be Expected
of me to be young Hammerton's security If the Money
were returned for Engd. & the Protest afterwards comes to
be recover'd what a fine Condition will the security be in

     I have lately discoursed Mr. Richd. Lee abt. Your Debts he thinks
most of Your Debtors have shipped Tobacco to you this year and I hope There
will not much remain unpaid -- Your debt with Mark Atkins
will certainly be lost, he was upon the arms of the Parish & is late[ly]
dead, leaving some debts behind him that will never be p [ai] d. --

     I am become a great Smoker You must yearly make me a
present of a small box of Tobacco My Sister Swan who for the most
part lives with me tells me She's in Your Debt 6 or 7 pounds. I think
You must charge It to my Account , Mr. Lee's Draft of an Account is
here inclosd It was forgot to be put into the letter relating to
Your Affair with him I am --

Your very humble Serv[ant]

1 dozen brushes to clean the Teeth
2 Curry Combs & 2 brushes


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1720 July-1721 July, BR 227, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. Printed: Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . pp. 25-27.

Robert Carter generally used a return address of "Rappahannock" for the river on which he lived rather than "Corotoman," the name of his home, on his correspondence, especially to merchants abroad. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

[1] Landon Carter (1710-1778) was Carter's seventh child by his second wife, Elizabeth (Landon) Willis. Landon would live at "Sabine Hall," Richmond County, and marry three times, leaving many descendants, some of whom own "Sabine Hall" today. As an adult, he would keep a very interesting and useful diary. A reproduction of a portrait of him may be found on the website of the Found ation of Historic Christ Church. ( Jack P. Greene. "Landon Carter" in Sara B. Bearss, John G. Deal, et al., eds. Dictionary of Virginia Biography. [Richmond: Library of Virginia, 2006], 3:76-78; and Greene. The Diary of Colonel Landon Carter. . . . )

[2] Although RC's clerk wrote "compote" RC probably dictated "compute" as the word was in use by 1720. Louis Wright incorrectly transcribed the word as "comport."

[3] Carter refers to the scandal of the value of the stock of the South Sea and other companies which wild speculation had driven enormously high in June 1720, and which was nearly worthless several months later. Many fortunes were made and lost. Perhaps the most succesful speculator was Sir Robert Walpole who made a fortune, retired, and then was called to save the nation as prime minister, a post he held from 1721 until 1742. ( Goldwin Smith. A History of England. [Chicago, etc.: Scribner's, 1949], pp. 422-424. )

[4] Benjamin and Adam (d. 1726) Graves were the sons of Captain Thomas Graves, long a captain of vessels trading to Virginia, and a special friend of RC; they also commanded vessels in the trade. ( Adm. 68/194-196, ff.33r, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[5] RC and Thomas Wise had "traded with each other in tobacco and bills of exchange between 1707 and 1717," but Wise "neglected his duty in returning those bills that were protested." Carter sued Wise in England to recover his money, and he won £180. ( Survey Report 10147 describing C24/1398 part 1, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; and letter of August 19, 1723, RC to Micajah Perry.)

[6] Edmund Hamerton (d. 1716) was a "minor trader along the coast," who "failed; undercapitalized and overindebted, he seems to have stopped trading by 1710." Hamerton then turned to politics and represented Middlesex in the Assembly in 1715. (Rutman and Rutman, A Place in Time: Middlesex. . . . pp. 225, 229. and "Answers to Queries," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 1(1893- 1894): 470-471 )

[7] Mark Atkins' inventory appears in Lancaster County records in 1721. (Torrence. Virginia Wills and Administrations, 1632-1800. p. 13. )

This text revised September 25, 2008.