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 Stark, July 8, [1729]

     Robert Carter writes to Glasgow merchant John Stark, July 8, [1729], to enclose a bill of lading (not present) and to compain about the mechant's accounting methods and low tobacco sales prices. He sends an invoice (not present) for goods.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Stark, July 8, [1729]

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Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
July. 8th [1729]

Mr John Stark


     This comes by Captain Bowman in the
Lucia with a bill of Lading for 32 hogsheads of Tobacco on her
By her I received your long letter with your several Accounts of
Sales and Invoice with the goods Ordered You take up a
great deal of room to demonstrate to me the regularity of
your Accounts and how fair you are in giving me all the Advan:
tages of my money in your hands that I have a right to
but I must profess to you I have so great a cloud upon my
Understanding that I can by no means discover the force of your reas
oning the Facts I think are plainly of my side And they carry
a full demonstration with them first you Charge me with all
the duty and then you discharge it All on the Credit side and After
All sell my Tobacco for Export without allowing me one farthing
of the discounts given to the ready payer and yet raising your

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Commission upon the Amount of the Credit side which
is bulked up to a large sum by the duties making your com:
mission be twice as much as it would be if you were to raise it
only upon your Export sales And this way I am a great suff
erer and never saw this way practiced until of late years you
Justify your self under the method of Other Merchants I must
confess you are not the Only Person that makes this the method
of your Accounts but whether it be right in any of you to raise
your Commision upon the whole duty when you bond it and none
of the money is Ever out of your hands is the question I want Satisfaction in this is a practice
that has been fallen upon but of late years my Accounts for:
merly where my Tobacco was Sold to Export were never troubled
with the duties Either of the Debtor or Credit side

     You tell me you do me a great deal of service in
keeping my Tobacco thus long upon your Stands I should be
glad to find this good Effect from it but your Accounts make
out just the Contrary in all of them your latest sales are
Considerably the lowest thus I shall wait for your Answer to
these Plain facts

     Herein I send you an Invoice of some goods which
request you will send me next year as Per Directions I have desireed
Captain Bowman to bring me in some bottles and have directed
him to receive the money from you to Pay for them I request you
will let him have it Accordingly

     Herein send you two bills of Exchange drawn on your self
Robert Carter junior for £22"0"0 Nicholas Smith for £7"4

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which desire yo will give my Account Credit for I am

                Your very 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 been added for clarity to the heading on the draft.

[1] John Stark was a prominent Glasgow merchant in the sugar trade. He served as as baillie and provost (mayor) from 1725-1727. ( John M'ure. The History of Glasgow. [Glasgow: D. Macvean and J. Wyllie & Co., 1830] pp. 227-228 as seen on Google books; and "Provosts of Glasgow" at "Welcome to Glasgow" . )

[2] Captain Samuel Bowman commanded the Lucia. Carter mentioned this vessel in his diary in June 1724, and again on 1726 March 4 when he wrote that she "came in had 20 Weeks Passage."

[3] 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. )

[4] Clearing of goods imported into Britain involved paying the impost, the duty imposed by Britain on imported tobacco, and obtaining the cocket (for which a fee was charged), a document bearing a cocket or seal issued by the "King's Customs House" that the impost had been paid. (See the definitions of each word in Oxford English Dictionary Online. )

[5] Because English law allowed an English purchaser of imported tobacco to apply for rebates of the impost, or duty, if the tobacco was exported from the country, Carter expected a discount on the charges on his tobacco sold to English merchants for export.

[6] 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 April 24, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.