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 Cage, Esq., July 19, 1725

     Robert Carter writes to the trustee of the Fairfax estate, William Cage of County Kent, England, July 19, 1725, to summarize the state of the proprietor's affairs in the colony. His accounts from London merchant Micajah Perry show that the rents have been paid, and he complains that he is unable to obtain rents from land holders to equal that he pays. He has received the new lease for the Virginia agency and the terms are hard ones which he may be able to meet but that his executors will have difficulties with. With the letter he sends accounts (not present) that clearly show that the proprietor owes Edmund Jenings £39 /14 and Jening's agent is in London to present them. The case in the colonial courts in which the proprietor is claiming certain fees and fines is moving very slowly to be summarized for presentation to the Board of Trade, and he notes a new cause that Cage and Lord Fairfax may wish him to pursue: there has been a suicide and Carter believes the guilty man's goods belong to the proprietor. He closes with a complaint that Cage seldom writes.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Cage, Esq., July 19, 1725

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]   
July 19th: 1725

Wm: Cage Esqr:


     By my accot: Currt: from Mr: Perry I find you are --
entirely paid of your Rents to Michaelmas last, which I hope is to your full --
Satisfaction, you must allow me to tell you I shall not get half money enough
in for the last years Rent to answer what I paid for it, Tobacco I have got little
or none, now it is worth Something they have used that little they made to other
purposes and leave me in the lurch

     I have recd: yor: new Lease from Mr: Perry its upon very hard terms, --
while my life lasts I flatter my self I can do as well with it as many man,
but I grow old and if it please God to take me away before the end of it, I
am afraid my Executors will hardly be able to do so well.

     Herein I Send you a clear accot: of Some further payments Adamson has
made to the proprietors in behalf of Colonel Jenings , whereby it appears very
Clearly that you Stand indebted to Colonel Jenings , Thirty nine pound [s] fourteen
shillings, This last accot: of Adamsons I had the p [er] usal of, the articles there
Stand as they are here Recited, Adamson is now in London to justify them
to you, so that I think nothing Remains, but to expect that you will please
to Send me your orders to pay Jenings his Balance who is really in a most
necessitous condition and dearly wants it.

     I come now to give you an accot: of yor: Cause with the Crown, it --
Stands continued in the General Court, the Governor Sends home a state
of the Case to the Board of trade to have their directions what he shall
do, the Lawyers have been very dilatory in preparing this State of the
Case, each side Charge the other to be the Occasion of this delay, I have
[directed the?] Lawyers as soon as it is finished to Send me a Copy th [at]
I may take the first opportunity to transmit to his Lordship and your
self, I Expected it before now but it is not come

      Please to give my humble respects to his Lordship, I have shown to --
the Governor the Attorney and Solicitor Generals Opinions, which you know
are very express in favor of the Grant, however the Governor thinks it not
safe to give way in it, until he has orders from home, and has ordered
the officers to keep the fines and foreitures, in their hands until there
is a Decision of the Cause, now I believe his Lordship will think it
advisable to Strengthen his Interest all he can at the Board of trade
that there may be a favourable Report from thence which will Settle
the matter for all time to come.

     It is usual for the Lords of Trade to Refer points of Law to the Attorney
and Solicitor General I cannot think they will alter their Opinions to what --
They have already given under their hands.

     There is another little difference that has lately happen'd, between the
                             Turn over

-2 -

Officers of the Revenue and I, which I think but Necessary to acquaint
you with, the Goods of Felons they have allowed me to take for several
years, It has lately happened a person has hanged himself, and is found
Guilty by the Coroners Inquest of self murder, whereby his goods are --
forfeited, now says the Attorney General these Goods belong to the Crown
and not to the proprietors for want of particular and express words to
Grant them, I make a demand of them alleging that a Felo de se is the
Highest species of murder, that his Goods are forfeitable & Grantable,
that the words in the Grant, all and all manner of Felons Goods whatsoever
are both General and Special, and must Comprehend these Goods, if
there be any meaning in words, my Lawyers are of my Opinion and --
Say there is no weight in the attorneys distincition I should be glad you
would think it proper to advise upon this point.

     I Observe you do not show any great inclination to frequent --
writing I beg you will please to give yor: self the trouble to let me know
this Letter comes safe to yor: hands I am

                                  Yor: most Obedient Humble Servant

Wm. Cage Esqr:


Source copy consulted: Fairfax Papers, BR 227, folder 31, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens, San Marino, California. Printed: Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . pp. 119-21.

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 persons abroad. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

This letter is marked "Copy" and is one of several that Carter would have had his clerks prepare, and that were sent by different ships to ensure that at least one arrived in England. Carter has signed the copy with his large and prominent signature as is indicated by the use of bold italics.

[1] "Michaelmas, Christian feast of St. Michael the Archangel, celebrated in the Western churches on September 29 and in the Eastern (Orthodox) Church on November 8. In the Roman Catholic Church, it is the Feast of SS. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, archangels; in the Anglican Church, its proper name is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels." ( Encycloaedia Britannica 1994-1999, online 9/20/2011.)

[2] Established in 1696 as successor to a similar body, the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations was "an advisory group, subordinate to king and Privy Council, and with no executive, financial, or penalizing powers, the Board of Trade was nevertheless able . . . to exert a far reaching and often determining influence in colonial matters. . . . It prepared the royal instructions for the governors overseas. . . ." ( Henry Hartwell, James Blair, and Edward Chilton. Hunter Dickinson Farish, ed. The Present State of Virginia, and the College. [First published, 1940, by Colonial Williamsburg, Inc., and reprinted Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1964.] pp. xvi-xvii. )

[3] Carter uses the Latin legal term "felo de se" which means, accoring to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online, "a person who commits suicide or who dies from the effects of having committed an unlawful malicious act," or "an act of deliberate self-destruction: suicide."

This text, originally posted in 2002, was revised September 20, 2011, to add a footnote, and to strengthen both the original footnotes and the modern language version text.