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 [John] Pratt, June 27, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to his old friend London merchant [John] Pratt, June 27, 1729, detailing his illnesses and the remedies of Pratt's that he has adopted, and hoping Pratt will continue to advise him.

Letter from Robert Carter to [John] Pratt, June 27, 1729

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Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]     
June 27th. 1729

My good Daddy Pratt --

     I am indebted to you for your Letter of the 24th. of October
a very kind one it is. Your advice in relation to my health and management of
my self in my infirmities is most Obliging I have followed your advices in
several respects I have drunk a great deal of Spa water. I had some of the
Bristol water sent me from thence in which I have soaked myself very Plen=
=tifully and I have also taken a preat deal of your receipt and Intend to Continue it
but your directions to refrain Eating Butter every manner of way I think imposs
ible to follow there being nothing we eat but must have butter to make it savou
ry and I dare say Doctor Bave himself can much Easier give this advice than
take it, however I follow it as.much as reasonably I can with abundance of
regularity and a great deal of Exercise with the use of frequent Purges of And=
=ersons pills
I make a shift to keep my distemper at a tolerable Bay. the time of
my greatest disturbance is about midnight when I am so frequently oppresed
that I know not how to live the greatest of my Malady proceeds from wind Occ=
= asioned I conceit by a difficult and bad digestion of my food sometimes my
fits are so violent heaving me into so much Confusion which makes me un
fit for any business take away all my resolution distracts my mind &
fills me with ungovernable thoughts rendering all the Ideas of my soul in dark
and discouraging Colours.which I have not the power to dispel by the Consid
erations of all the liberal mercys I am under which by the good hand of Providence
I must own are not a few and when ever I transgress a little either in Eating
or drinking to be sure that night I am to be miserably tormented.

      [I tell you] so much the history of my Maladies being in hopes

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you may be able to give me some further advice, for my distemper I thank you
kindly for you putting Mr. Falconar upon sending me some German Spa water
I have already sent away my Invoice to him and have forgot to send for any
more of it, but I will write to him about it hereafter and request you to put him
in mind to send me the same Quantity next Year as he did this. I heart

     I heartily congratulate you upon your recovery after we had
several letters advising us that the Doctors. had given you over as a gone man, May
you and I make use of the remaining time God shall please to allow us to the
best Purposes for his glory and our Comfort. I thank God as far as I hear at
this time all our families are in tolerable health. My Daughter Nicholas
is a very crazy ailing body. All this family salutes you In the Quality of a
most Esteemed Daddy Particularly him who heartily Prays for your happiness
& is,

                  Your most obliged humble Servant

Another Affliction I am under I
have had sore running Eyes for near
two Year and cant find any remedy.

per Bailey


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] John Pratt was a London merchant and an old friend of Carter's who usually referred to him as "Daddy."

[2] "Mineral waters of Clifton, near Bristol, with a temperature not exceeding 74 [degrees]; formerly celebrated in cases of pulmonary consumption." ( "Bristol waters" on 12/5/2014 )

[3] Carter refers to Dr. Samuel Bave (d. 1688) , "born in Cologne but trained at Oxford, specialized in the use of chalybeate waters and no doubt knew of the continental ones, for he was proficient in several languages." (Phyllis May Hembry. The English Spa, 1560-1815: A Social History . [Fairleigh Dickinson Univ Press, 1990], p. 55.)

[4] Anderson's Scots Pills, a product of the 1630's, had been invented by Patrick Anderson, a Scot, who wrote in a book published in 1635 that he had learned the secret of the pills in Venice. He passed the formula to his daughter Katherine who in turn passed it to a doctor named Thomas Weir in 1686. Weir obtained letters patent on the formula from James II in 1687. ( George B. Griffenhagen and James Harvey Young, "Old English Patent Medicines in America," in Contributions From the Museum of History and Technology (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1959), paper 10, 156-183. )

[5] John Falconar (d. ca. 1729) was a London merchant with whom Carter dealt. In 1728, Falconar and Henry Darnell formed an association of 29 London tobacco merchants to deal with the French tobacco purchasing agent as a group in order to keep the price as high as possible. The association lasted only lasted a year or two before dissolving because some of its members were dealing directly with the French agent and selling below the agreed-upon price. (See Carter's letter to Falconar of July 24 and August 22, 1727, for details about the payment of £200 to him. See Carter to William Dawkins, for Falconar's death date. Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 129 )

[6] 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]. )

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