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 3, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to Lodon merchant William Dawkins, July 3, 1723, alerting him to a shipment of 43 hogsheads of tobacco on board the Carter, and praising its high quality. He reports some bills of exchange of his own and others, and sends Dawkins directions regarding his sons (then in England at school). He wishes to have Robert sent home at once and Charles to come in the spring unless he wishes to come with his brother. He informs the merchant of the recent law passed by the colonial Assembly that will limit tobacco production, outlines the arguments in the law's favor, and hopes for Dawkins' support for it.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, July 3, 1723

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

July the 3d: 1723

Mr. Wm: Dawkins

Sr -- --

      My last was from Williamsburg accompanying a
Bill of Lading for 20 hogsheads of my own Crops stripped leaf and straight
laid, This covers a bill of Lading for 43 hogsheads of the same Tobacco
in the Carter, I shall spare the spending any more breath in its Commen
dation and shall only tell you that these 63 hhds. every one of
them Were made upon the best lands I am Master of, better
a great Deal than any of the finest Yorkers has to plant, and
under the management of as Nice Overseers as ever I had
under me in my life, and I must take the liberty to Say
I know as well how to keep overseers to their Duty and am
as much master of the planting Trade as anyone you

      Herein I also send you some Bills of Exchange --
Drawn upon yourself Amounting as per list. To Eighty
to [sic ] pound Six & Eleven pence -- Either to be carried to my
Credit or returned protested.

-2 -

     Herein is also two sets of exchange from Mr. C [ . . . ]
for your own Money due from the Estate of William Fox, one
from himself for £8:18s:8d: on John Burridge Esquire the other Endorsed by him for
£19:5s: -- d:. Your debt from Gibson of £2:11:3d you
may charge to my Accot I have his promise to repay me
Patrick Connelly is arrested for your debt he hath been
with me and Offers his bond for the Money to pay
as soon as he is able which I shall take I have found him to be a very punctual
as well as Industruous fellow, Some Years ago he was
in my Debt near a 100 £ and has worked it out to a
small matter.

     I have already advisd You I had drawn of my draft upon You
for £150 to Benjamin Harrison, and for £3"10" to Mr Clayton
and I must now acquaint You, by the Carter I send a bill to Mr.
Clayton Perry
upon You for £200: which desire Your payment
of at time.

     As to my Sons I remain under the same resolution
as I was, Robin If he be not Embarked before, I would have
him come in, in the first good Ship for our River, and
Charles to follow him in the Spring. Either to our river or
to York unless he has a desire to come away with his brother
Surely before this and then let him be pleased
in Gods Name --

      Surely before this day my Tobacco in Your hands is
all Sold & that You will Send me my Accots by Hopkins
or by Some other Ship that first comes away

      Our Assembly has passed a Law laying a Stint
upon planting, prohibiting the planting any more
than Six thousand per head, It is to take place In April
Next, that the Kings pleasure may be known Whether
he'll be Graciously pleased to Allow us this Law
under Our present Misery, We are in [no] doubt great
Efforts will be made against It, the Merchants We hope
Will be for It, Their own Interest We would think
would Expect them will Engage them to Exert their Ut=
=most Strength In the Support of It, & of the Trade from
ruin which will Infallably Ensue without It, unless
the providence of God takes care of Us, by Some Acci
=dental Disaster, A Low market at home, The
Ships All coming full & the Greatest Crop upon the Ground

-3 -

[that] has been known for many Years, What does these
[cir] cumstances portend but Utter ruin, If this Law
be allowed to Subsist. the Quantity that will probably be
made, will be considerably greater than Abundance
Os [of] people will Imagine, for granting the Country round
One with another now tend 12 thousand a head, which
is always reckoned Enough to make a good Crop upon,
We shall then pick all the best of our Grounds to plant
& tend It with Abundance more nicety than now we do
so that It may be fairly reckoned two plants wll make
As much as three, besides Abundance of People will
be turned out to making Tobacco that are now employed
Otherways from all which upon a reasonable Compu=
=tation, the Quantity will not be lessened above a fourth
part, I shall Conclude here --

Your humble Servant


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter letter book, 1723 June 16-1724 April 23, Robert Carter Papers, (acc. no. 3807), Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. There is a nineteenth-century transcript of this letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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] This may have been Jonathan Gipson (d. 1729) who "established Gibson's Tobacco Warehouse on the Rappahannock river on the dower land of his wife, Elizabeth (Thornton) Conway Gibson"; it was located"immediately opposite Port Royal in Caroline County. ( King George County Virginia Will Book A-1 1721-1752 And Miscellaneous Notes . [Fredericksburg, Va.: Privately Printed, 1978], 237. .)

[2] Patrick Connelly appears on a 1716 list of titheables in Christ Church Parish, Lancaster County ( "Tithables in Lancaster Co., 1716." William and Mary Quarterly 1st. ser., 21[July 1912]:107. )

[3] Robert Carter (1704-1732) was RC's seventh child by his second wife, Elizabeth Landon (Willis) Carter. Robert was sent to England to school in 1718; see RC's letter to William Dawkins, July 9, 1718. Robert married Priscilla Churchill in 1725 and had two children, one of whom, Robert Carter III, would be known as "Councillor" Carter of "Nomini Hall." Robert Carter II died a few months before his father.

[4] Charles Carter (1707-1764), Robert Carter's tenth child with his second wife, Elizabeth (Landon) Willis Carter. He would live at "Cleve," King George County, and inherit a number of properties in that area from his father.

[5] Carter means the Rappahannock River.

[6] Carter probably refers to Captain James Hopkins who would, in 1725, command the Mary, a 100 ton vessel owned by Robert Cary of London. ( Survey report 6800 of Adm. 68/184, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[7] For the Council's reasons for assenting to this proposed tobacco law, see McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:45-51.

This text revised August 20, 2009.