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 Messrs. Haswell and Brooks, April 11, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to London merchants Messrs. Haswell and Brooks, April 11, 1729, acknowledging receipt of goods, complaining about the poor market for tobacco, prospects for the repeal of the act forbidding importation of stemmed tobacco into Britain, and coverning bills of lading and echange (not present).

Letter from Robert Carter to Messrs. Haswell and Brooks, April 11, 1729

-1 -

[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

Aprl 11. 1729

Mess. Haswell & Brooks

     I have received your letters with the goods you sent me
by the Cambridge they came in good Condition and I have loaded
Upon her Twenty hogsheads of my own crop Tobacco

     The relation both you and Every other merchant
gives of the poorness of the Commodity inspire's us with very
melancholy Apprehensions that unless some lucky turn
happens [. . .] the price we shall never be able to live by
                                                            our labour

-2 -

And supply the necessary Calls of Nature Most of the mer
chants are in great doubt we shall not meet with Success in the
Affair of Stemming it seems very hard that the despicable con
dition of our Commodity will not move the compassion of our fellow
Subjects to indulge us in so reasonable a petition but this ]1s] too
melancholy a Subject to dwell upon

     For this Tobacco you have here a bill of Lading Captain
Brooks has been so diligent to comply with his Charter that
he has overrun all our Expectations and is the first Sweet
Ship that will Sail he will best give you an Accot
how forward the rest are he having got the Start so much
if he be favoured in his passage will come to the first of the Mar:
ket which for Some late years has proved the best

     Here in are two Small bills on your Selves John
Washington for £5"-"-and Joe Smith for £5"-"-
which desire your managment of I shall conclude at present

                   your most humble Servt


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 also been added for clarity to the heading on the draft.

[1] Haswell and Brooks was a London firm listed in 1740 directories of that city. Samuel Haswell was a London Assurance director in Suffolk Lane. John Brooks' obituary appeared in the Pennsylvania Gazette, May 8, 1740, where his partnership with Haswell was noted and that he had been "formerly Commander of the George, in the Virginia Trade." ( A Compleat Guide to All Persons who have any Trade or Concern with the City of London and Ports adjacent. . . . London: Printed for J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster-row, MDXXXL ; and online abstract list of entries from Kent's Directory For the Year 1740 Containing An Alphabetical List of the Names and Places of Abode of the Directors of Companies, Persons in Publick Business, Merchants, and other Eminent Traders in the Cities of London and Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark. London: Printed and Sold by Henry Kent in Finch-Lane, near the Royal Exchange: and by the Booksellers and Pamphlets Shops of London and Westminster, 1740. p. 39. Brooks' obituary courtesy of Todd A. Farmerie, 1/21/2013.)

[2] The Cambridge made voyages to Virginia from London in 1727 and 1729. In the first she was commanded by Peter Moore, and in the later by Christopher Brooks. She was a vessel of 70-100 tons with about 11 men. She may have been oowned by Haswell & Brooks.( Survey Reports 6800 and 6801 for Adm. 68/194-195, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[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 lading is "an official detailed receipt given by the master of a merchant vessel to the person consigning the goods, by which he makes himself responsible for their safe delivery to the consignee. This document, being the legal proof of ownership of the goods, is often deposited with a creditor as security for money advanced." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[5] A charter-party is "the charter or deed made between owners and merchants for hire of a ship, and safe delivery of the cargo. It contains the name and burden of the vessel, the names of the master and freighters, the price or rate of the freight, the place and time of lading and unlading, and stipulations as to demurrage." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[6] Sweetscented tobacco was one of two major types grown in Carter's day. It was mild compared to the stronger oronocco. Sweetscented required "a type of soil of limited distribution" and "was largely confined to the banks of the great rivers, the James, York, Rappahannock, and Potomac." ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 97 )

[7] 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. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised February 13, 2015, to strengthen the footnotes and the modern language version text.