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 Major [John] Holloway, May 24, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to Major [John] Holloway, May 24, 1729, to ask his legal opinion of Carter's right to make grants of land in the western areas of Virginia which Carter believes to be part of the holdings of the proprietor of the Northern Neck for whom he is agent.

Letter from Robert Carter to Major [John] Holloway, May 24, 1729

-1 -

Corotoman, [Lancaster County, Virginia]     
May the 24th. 1729

Majr Holloway

Sir --

     It will not be improper for me to give you the best Scheme I
can according to my Informations how the river of Potomac branches take their Courses above the falls thereof

     There are many runs making into the Northern Neck which
all of them are Inhabited more or less, One of them about 30 mil [e] s above the Falls is &
Called Goose Creek up to this Creek and above it is inhabited the branches of this is reckoned to lock into the Northern branches
of the North Stream of Rappahannock as you will observe by Savage's Plat, beyond Goose
Creek about 15 Miles comes down a ridge of Small mountains from Rappahannock
Almost to the very side of Potomac river and is Called by the hunters the blue
ridge beyond this blue ridge about a Mile up the run of Potomac the river
forks, the main river which the Indians call Cohunkaruta keeps up to the Westward
the other branch which makes this fork runs away to the South West Called by
the Indians Shenandoah and by the Inhabitants Jerundo, This branch is Sup
posed to run above the branches of Rappahannock after it has left the great Stream of
Potomac a Considerable way it may be 40 or 50 Miles it forks again & in
this fork as I am informed Larkin Chew and his Company made their
Surveys I must own below this fork of Shenandoah, on the upper Side of it, not
far from the mouth of it where it leaves the main river Cohunkaruta I have
had lately 2 or 3 Surveys made but have passed no Deeds for Lands there
not that I can See any the least reason to doubt these Lands being Expressly
within the Grant, If the words of it have any plain meaning even from the
Doctrine that has taken awy the lower fork of Rappad [an] from the Proprietors where the only
reason pretended is that the Northern branch is the bigger & larger Stream,

     The Maryland Grant bounds it self [sic ] by Cohunkaruta
and is inhabited a great way above the mouth of Shenandoah,

     I Send you this Entertainment for your Consideration and to
have your Opinion whether by any fair Interpretation these Lands above
Shenandoah can be Construed out of proprietors Grant and to belong to the Crown It
Seems my passing a Deed or two in the Second fork of the Northern branches of Rappahannock under my
presumption in making Some Surveys upon the upper side of Shenandoah
is looked upon as a Crime so heinous That nothing less is threatned then the
Destruction of the proprietors Grant for it.

     Its the wise mans Saying in the multitudes of Counselors
there is Safety and I Always have a very great dependance upon your Opinion
in these Perplexed Cases Although I think this cannot properly be called a
Perplexed Case,


Source copy consulted: Letter book, 1728 August-1731 July, Robert Carter Papers (acc. no. 3807), Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. There is a 19th-century transcript of the letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

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

[1] Goose Creek flows into the Potomac River just east of Leesburg in modern Loudoun County. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.] Coverage of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties.)

[2] Cohunkaruta is probably what we continue to call the Potomac today.

[3] Larkin Chew (ca. 1708-1770) and his brothers John and Thomas were born in Spotsylvania County and speculated in land there when the county was huge. "But for the twelve years from 1722 to 1734 it contained within its bounds the present Piedmont counties of Orange, Culpeper, Madison, Rappahannock and Greene, as well as the Valley counties of Rockingham, Page and Warren." Both Larkin and Thomas served as sheriff at various times. (, 1/10/2005 citing Spotsylvania County 1721-1800; Will Book D 1761-1772; page 25: Chew, Larkin Spotsylvanla Co., d. Mar. 27, 1770, Executors Bond dated Sept. 21, 1770; McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]: 66, 86, 173, 439. and Nathaniel Mason Pawlett. Spotsylvania County Road Orders 1722-1734. [Charlottesville, VA: Virginia Highway & Transportation Research Council, 1985], 2. )

[4] See the discussion of the Northern Neck proprietary on this project's home page.

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised February 23, 2015, to strengthen the footnotes and the modern language version text.