Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

List of Letters | About This Collection

Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to Samuel Smith, January 22, 1728

     Robert Carter writes to chide Samuel Smith of King and Queen County, January 22, 1728, for not making the required legal arrangements for Smith's brigantine, the Mary to unload its cargo of rum and take on tobacco for its voyage back to England. Carter notes he is willing to post the required bond provided Smith will sign a counter bond to indemnify Carter.

Letter from Robert Carter to Samuel Smith, January 22, 1728

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Coro [toma] n: [Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Janry 22d: 1727/8

Mr. Samuel Smith

Sir --

      Captain Price in your Brigantine got
into my Creek this afternoon the disasters she met with in
the Bay from the late storm and what materials will
be wanting to refit her I shall leave to the relation of
your men and the Captain who writes to you at large

     Her stay has been so long that I be=
gan to grow out of Expectation of seeing her upon
my proposals her burthen being so much larger than
my information and the damage she has now sustained

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will in consequence prolong the time of her loading howe
ver if Mr Burgess and some others that I have expecta
tions from will do anything considerable, I beleive we shall
be able to give her a tolerable good dispatch you ha

      You have been very wrong in not sending
a permit from your Off [ice] rs of the goods you have removed
in her and a certificate of the Legal importation of
the rum and of the payment of the Duty there and without
such certificate no Officer here can permit the landing
of it without Obliging the payment of the Duty over ag=
ain and without Obliging the present Master to an oath
to the contents of his Cargo and that the Vessel was Lega=
lly entered in your district or else must enter her afresh.
you know all these things better than I and that it is
the plain direction of the law indeed I think Mr Cary
was too scrupulous in not giving you a certificate upon
your oath made to the goods before Major Newton one of your Justices and
you have not so much as sent up the oath you took
before him my son is not at home but I have thought
the shortest way for you would be for your M [ast] er to
give bond for payment of the Duty over again and
leave you to relieve your self by a Certificate from your
Off [ice] rs hereafter but you will think of this and give all di
rections according to your own thoughts

     Another thing is wanting the Off [ice] rs here
cannot permit your Vessel to take in tobacco until bond
is given to them in a thousand or two thousand pounds accor
ding to her burthen for her unloading her tobacco in Brita
in being an enumerated commodity your letter for this en
gaging your self to be bound with your masters security in the

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proper sum for his legal delivery according to the act
of parliament and returning Certificate thereof with=
in the limited time I shall will be a foundation to me for me Adventure to by signing the bond
in your stead upon your Undertaking to give a counter bond
to indemnify me this must be done before your Vess=
el can proceed in taking in tobacco and this I dare say
you are no stranger to I am

                  Your most humble Servant --


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. Carter review the clerk's draft of this letter and added an occasional word in his hand as is indicated by the use of bold italics.

The county and colony have been added for clarity to the heading on the draft.

[1] Samuel Smith was a resident of King and Queen County where he was a justice, and would be sheriff in 1730 and 1731.(McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:215, 235. )

[2] The Mary was a ship owned by King and Queen County resident Samuel Smith; she was commanded by Thomas Price. (See Carter to Samuel Smith , January 22, 1728.)

[3] Robert Carter's home, "Corotoman," was located on the northeastern bank of the Rapphannock River in Lancaster County close to the present-day community of Weems. A stream called Corrotoman [sic ] River ran inland west of the house. Carter built a fine house there in the mid 1720s, but it burned in January 1729. See the "Corotoman" page of the web site of Historic Christ Church Foundation for more information about the house and excavation of its ruins. ( See the Maryland Gazette for February 4-11, 1728/29 for comment on Carter's loss. The Maryland Archives has placed its copies of the Maryland Gazette online. Unfortunately, page four of the issue of February 4-11, 1728/29 is missing, and that must be where the notice of the fire at Corotoman appeared; the text is quoted in secondary sources as reading: "The fine large house of Colonel Carter on the Rappahannock was also burnt lately. The particulars of his loss we can't give you, but we are inform'd it is very great." [Garden Club of Virginia Journal , May-June 1983, p.8.])

[4] Chesapeake Bay

[5] Brthen means "bearing a small or comparatively small load. Of a vessel: Having a small burthen, or (the usual sense) unladen, without cargo." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[6] The naval officer was an official in the colony that reported to the Commissioners of Customs, a body that had first been established in 1663; the group was reorganized several times, especially after 1688. The board was "intrusted with collection of customs both in England and the colonies." The board helped write many of the instructions for colonial governors in collaboration with the Privy Council. "Their direct connection with the colonies was through the governors, who were instructed to correspond with the commissioners, and to send them, every three months, lists of clearances, and also reports of illegal trading. The governor's agent in matters of trade was the naval officer whom he was empowered to appoint, but who was required by the 7th and 8th William III to give security to the commissioners of customs." ( Louise Phillips Kellogg. The American Colonial Charter. A Study of English Administration in Relation Thereto, Especialy after 1688. [Annual Report, American Historical Association. Vol. 1, Govt. Print. Off., 1904], p. 226. For a recent study, see Alvin Rabushka. Taxation in Colonial America [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.] )

This text, originally posted in 2004, was revised September 1, 2014, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.