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 Major [John] Holloway, June 2, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to his attorney and friend, [John] Holloway, June 2, 1729, concerning the granting of lands on the Little Fork in areas that he believes belong to the proprietary. He speculates on the reasons behind the opposition to the proprietor's grant being made by the receiver general, John Grymes, and the grants being taken there by Henry Willis.

Letter from Robert Carter to Major [John] Holloway, June 2, 1729

-1 -

Corotom[a]n, [Lancaster County, Virginia]     
[date from text]

Majr. Holloway


     Since I wrote to you [illegible] Mr. Owsley of Stafford has
been at my house a noted ranger traveler in the backwoods for many years
he tells me of a march he made when he was a ranger by the Order of
Colonel Spotswood in Company with Augustine Smith the Surveyor & Others
it is so . . . ated great An illustration of the forks of our River that that I
have thought it Proper to take it Under his hand and herein do
transmit to you he Adds further that not Above a fortnight or three
weeks ago he was at the new Germans as they are called who are sea-
ted upon the upper branches of Germana River and then he passed
Over all the Northern branches and is very well Assured tht none that has
traveled those places will pretend to say there is any Comparison
between the Southern branch of the little Fork and the Northern
branches Which all to his certain knowledge head in a little way
. . . befor befor in some small Mountains a great way Short of the Blue ridge
All which Corresponds very well with Mr: Savages description

     Robin Beverley in a Patent of four thousand
Acres that he got of Colonel Spotswood cunningly Extends his bounds
without giving length of pole upon some Courses into this little Fork and there Mr. William Beverley his son has seat [ed]
some quarters I have heard Upon an Alarm that William Beverley had from
the Receiver General has lately made A Survey of this Artful Patent
of his fathers And finds there is above Nine thousand Acres in it
this I have been told but Cannot Affirm the truth of it Major Henry
has gone further into this Fork and taken up large quan
tities of Land Upon which I believe all the slaves he has in those
Parts are seated so that there is no great wonder to be made there is
such a mighty Struggle for this little Fork And my Grants th [at]
I have made there I believe are Elder than Major Willis's Colonel Spots
wood no doubt was Altogether Surprised in to his grant and I mus [t]
--                                                             think that

-2 -

All the Other patents that have Passed there since have been a
Surprise to Colonel Drysdale for I cannot think Any Governor that is clearly
Apprehend sive ed that this little fork belongs to the Northern neck grant
as I think it is easily made out beyond a dispute w ill ould issue any pa=
tents for Lands there

     I almost think it will be but A Proper respect to the Governor
and what will be no way as Offensive upon a proper Opportunity if you would to
make him Acquainted with the description of these places from
the full testimony we have but this I must Submit to your Considera=

     I have sometimes wonderd at the great heat of our Receiver
against the Proprietors grant and especially in this business of the
little fork at first I imagined a huge desire he might have to get
the Northern neck Added to the Crown (a very pretty Perquisite to a
Receiver General ) that Occasioned his Zeal to Appear so hot but I am now
thoughtful of another great Spur he may be Under which I shall
communicate to you in Confidence

     Some years Ago Major Willis was in such perplexity
About Answering the Calls of his Son in Laws Estate that he
was put Under the necessity of borrowing money I lent him £200
and I fancy he had more of Others by the Assistance of Colonel Grymes
[illegible] I take it that my money was paid me and I have a notion that
this land and his Slaves are Under Mortgage to him for his security
Colonel Grymes is the Guardian of this boy by All his relations desire
now if this estate of Willis's be mortgaged whether it be for the
security of Colonel Grymes or the scarcity of the boys Estate I cannot
take him to stand as an indifferent Person or that his Zeal arises
Merely from the Duty of his place it is very likely you may
be more familiarly Acquainted with the terms that Major Willis &
Colonel Grymes are upon I am not At All desirous from of getting

-3 -

deeper into your Secrets than what will be honourable for you to com
municate I am with hearty Sincerity

                   Your most humble Servant.


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.

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

[1] Thomas Owsley was a large landholder in Stafford County, and had taken many trips into the back country. (Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 53, 83, 110. 609. )

[2] Alexander Spotswood (1646-1740), army officer with a succesful career, was a protege of George Hamilton, first earl of Orkney, the royal governor of Virginia, who sent Spotswood to Virginia in 1710 as lieutenant governor. His first five years in the colony were fairly successful ones, but his policies concerning land quitrents and over the colonial church brought confrontation with powerful members of the Council. Their interests in England led to Spotswood's dismissal as governor in 1722. He had acquired large land holdings, and he went to England in 1724 where he married and worked on securing the titles to his Virginia land holdings. In 1730 he returned to Virginia and remained there. (Gwenda Morgan. "Alexander Spotswood," in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and Leonidas Dodson. Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Colonial Virginia, 1710-22 [Philadelphia, 1932].)

[3] Governor Alexander Spotswood had encouraged immigration of Germans into Virginia in 1714, and they settled "in what was then Stafford Co. . . . later Prince William and now Fauquier." The men worked in Spotswood's iron mines, but around 1718 took grants in the proprietary in Stafford County. (See "Germantown" in Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 207-221. and Elizabeth Chapman Denny Vann and Margaret Collins Denny Dixon. Virginia's First German Colony. Richmond: Privately printed, 1961. p. 33.)

[3] Augustine Smith (1666-1736) the "son of Col. Lawrence Smith, of Gloucester county, and York Town." He lived in Spotsylvania County where he is usually referred to as "Gent." in records. He was a noted surveyor who accompanied Alexander Spotswood on the Golden Horseshoe Exploratory expedition. "Spotswood also strengthened and expanded the colony's western frontier by leading an expedition in the summer of 1716 across the Blue Ridge Mountains and down into the Shenandoah Valley. He claimed these lands for the king, and in the 1730s the area was settled as a buffer against French and Indian aggression.." (Renee Schaeffer. "Augustine Smith Tidbits"; Harrison. Landmarks. . . . , 223, 590, 627; and Alexander Spotswood" in Encyclopedia Virginia . )

[4] the Rappahannock

[5] Governor Alexander Spotswood had encouraged immigration of Germans into Virginia in 1714, and they settled "in what was then Stafford Co. . . . later Prince William and now Fauquier." The men worked in Spotswood's iron mines, but around 1718 took grants in Stafford County. (See "Germantown" in Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 207-221. and Elizabeth Chapman Denny Vann and Margaret Collins Denny Dixon. Virginia's First German Colony. Richmond: Privately printed, 1961. p. 33.)

[6] The Fry-Jefferson map shows the Little Fork as a tributary of the Hedgman (now the Rappahannock) River. It lies in what is probably Culpeper County today, not far from the Blue Ridge.

[7] John Savage was a surveyor, later (1734) to be employed by Lord Fairfax while attempting to establish the boundaries of the proprietary. He had been appointed surveyor for King George County the year after that county was formed in 1720, and was referred to then as "gentleman." He was surveyor of Stafford County when he particpated in the Fairfax survey. ( Genealogies of Virginia Families from Tyler's Quarterly Historical and Genealogical Magazine. [Genealogical Publishing Co, 1981] Vol. I [of 4]:473; Brown. Virginia Baron. . . . pp. 83, 86, 88, 92; and Harrison. Landmarks. . . . p. 619. )

[8] Robert Beverley (c. 1673-1722) held various clerk's posts in the colonial government. He was a burgess from Jamestown in the period 1699-1706. In 1716, the Council named Beverly, John Holloway, and John Clayton to "regulate the admission of attornies to the bar." Beverley is best remembered for his classic History and Present State of Virginia published in London in 1705. (Kukla. Speakers and Clerks. . . . pp. 144-46 )

[9] William Beverley (c. 1696-1756) son of Robert Beverley, lived at Blandfield, Essex County, where he was a member of the House of Burgesses and clerk of the court for many years (1716-1745). In 1752 he was appointed to the Council serving until just before his death. He acquired and leased vast tracts of land in what is today Augusta County where he is remembered in the city of Staunton where a street and district are named for him. ( Cynthia Miller Leonard. The General Assembly of Virginia July 30, 1619-January 11, 1978. A Bicentennial Register of Members. Richmond: General Assembly of Virginia, 1978. pp. 77, 78, 81 ; and "Col. William Beverley [13049]." )

[10] Henry Willis (1691-1740) founder of Fredericksburg. (See Paula S. Felder, "A Slow Beginning: 1728-1732." Free Lance Star [Fredericksburg, VA] 15/3/2003, and "Fredericksburg's Origins and a History of Its Neighborhoods" ; "Descendants of Lewis ap David of Cardiganshire, Wales" ; and "Willis Family." William and Mary Quarterly. 1st ser. 5(1896): 24-27, 171-176; 6(1897): 27-29, 206-214.) )

[11] "The receiver-generalship was a royal appointment" and the official was required to give bond both to the lord of the treasury and to the governor. "Those who filled the office of receiver-general were practially all councillors. . . . The duties of the receiver-general included the receiving of the quit-rents, the revenue arising from the export duty of two shillings per hogshead on tobacco, the one penny per pound on tobacco exported from Virginia . . . the port duty, which was the revenue arising from the fifteen pence per ton on all vessels arriving in the colony, and all funds of the colony not received by the treasurer. . . . He paid out of the revenue . . . the salaries of the officers of the colony, also those of the auditor-general of the colonies and the solicitor of Virginia affairs, both of whom lived in England. All the public expenses of the colony, except, of course, those paid out of the funds held by the treasurer, were paid out of the funds received in his office. . . . He of course reported to the lords of the treasury all payments made on the order of the governor. The accounts of the revenues and the reports of disbursements forwarded to the lords of the treasury were certified to by the auditor and the governor, and sent by the governor." (Percy Scott Flippin. The Financial Administration of the Colony of Virginia [Johns Hopkins Press, 1915.] 41-42.)

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

[13] Carter means Willis's stepson as current useage terms the relationship. Willis's first wife, Ann Alexander (whom he married November 2, 1714) was the widow of John Smith (d. 1712) of Purton, Gloucester County. She had two children including a son, Augustine Smith, for whom Willis would have had responsibility. ( "Willis" 3/15/2005 and 3/2/2015 ; and "Warner" 3/18/ 2005 and 3/2/2015 .)

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised March6 , 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.