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, April 11, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, April 11, 1729, concerning sales of his tobacco, the misfortunes of the Carter and her captains, his son Robert's inattention to business, his negotiations on behalf of Dawkins' "Affair with Mr. L[. . .]," whether there will be war, and the attempt to obtain permission to stem tobacco.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, April 11, 1729,

-1 -

[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Aprl: 11. 1729

Mr William Dawkins


     I have many letters from you by our late ships
that of the 10th of December is the most Copious Your invoice of goods per Captain
Came Safe your Accots of Sales and Accot Currt have been with
me long Since none of my Tobacco it seems last year was sold you
were told the Tobacco in the Carter was damaged what part is to fall
my lot time must tell us you say good Tobacco was sold for 8: pence I hope
none of mine will fall to that price Some of Mr. Burwells Tobacco
reached 9 3/4 surely a penny difference will be the lowest depres:
sion I shall come Under how we shall live even at that rate I profess
I don't know

     The Carter you intended to sell and indeed it
was high time We have a Story industriously spread here that
Dove ab has absconded upon the Accot of running Tobacco : I hope it is
not true Captain Graves to be sure writes his own Circumstances
I suppose he is Under no doubt of getting his loading

     I note what you say about my Son Roberts re:
missness I am not at all displeased at your reprimands to him you
may Assure your self I inculcate all the Care Into Him I possibly
can As years Comes on I hope he will consider things better
And what the Consequences of such neglects may prove to him

     As to your Affair with Mr. L [. . .] not brough [t]
to any issue as yet in respect to that [ . . . ] I to [ok]

-2 -

Upon myself to negotiate if he performs his promise you will
go near to have a good Accot of per the Bailey but of late he acds: [?]
coming to my house more than Usual I cant think is a:
ny design to postpone that Affair

     I was glad to find Mr Cockburnes bill was [illegible]
Accepted and would be paid the gentleman has been dead for some
time and I doubt in very mean circumstances

     I have seen the Kings Speech and the parliaments
answers from whence no Conclusion is to be made whether we are
to have A war or a peace what Success we are like to meet wth:
About Stemming our Tobacco . is not yet known here I don't find an:
y of the Merchants give much hopes [(] Although what I hear from the
Southward has weight in it) our agent oi [.. .] it seems to be a very
Severe Case that we shall not be allowed to put our own Commodity
into what shape we please so that we might be Allowed to live by our
labours which we can never do Under our present Circumstan:
ces I send you herein 4 Small bills of Exchange Colonel Corbin for £5"-"-
Charles Burgess for £4:7:9 William Thornton for £5.1.1 these three on
your self the other Margaret Rymer on Thomas Longman of Bristol
for £2:15:6 which desire you will transact for me


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond.

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 to the heading on the draft.

[1] The Bailey was a London ship owned by William Dawkins and commanded at various times by Adam Graves (1725-1730) and by Thomas Dove (1731-1732). She was a vessel of some 250 tons and carried 15-17 crew members. ( Survey report 6801 summarizing Adm. 68/195, 156v, and other data in Adm. 68/194 and /196, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; A letter of Carter's to Dawkins May 12, 1732, refers to "your ship Bailey." as does a letter of August 10, 1733, from Carter's executors to Dawkins. [ Lloyd T. Smith, Jr., ed. The Executors' Letters of Robert Carter of Corotoman, 1732-1738. (Irvington, VA: Foundation for Historic Christ Church, 2010) p. 76]. )

[2] The letters of the abbreviation written down by Carter's clerk are fairly clear, but what the word that Carter dictated was is not at all clear. From the context, it would seem that Mr. L. might have been avoiding Carter, but there is no obvious word that Carter might have used that fits the abbreviation.

[3] Parliament had passed an act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. John Randolph was sent to England in 1729 as agent for Virginia to try to have the act overturned; his mission would be successful. ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. [Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953.] p. 116. )

[4] A bill of exchange is a kind of check or promissory note without interest. It is used primarily in international trade, and is a written order by one person to pay another a specific sum on a specific date sometime in the future. If the bill of exchange is drawn on a bank, it is called a bank draft. If it is drawn on another party, it is called a trade draft. Sometimes a bill of exchange will simply be called a draft, but whereas a draft is always negotiable (transferable by endorsement), this is not necessarily true of a bill of exchange.(See "Bill of Exchange" in the online Dictionary of Financial Scam Terms: the Truth vs. the Scam. )

[4] Major William Thornton (d. 1742/43) of King George County. ( King George County Virginia Will Book A-1 1721-1752 And Miscellaneous Notes. [Fredericksburg, VA: Privately Printed, 1978], p. 277. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised February 12, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.