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 John Stark, August 11, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to Glasgow merchant John Stark, August 11, 1729, to report that extremely rainy weather has reduced the size of the crops by as much as one half both in Virginia and Maryland. He also notes a shipment of tobacco from the Burwell estate, a bill of exchange, and orders stockings and snuff.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Stark, August 11, 1729

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     
Augst. 11th. 1729

Mr. John Stark


     My last went by Captain Stevenson and
brought you a bill of Lading for 8 hogsheads of Tobacco
We have had prodigous rains for two months together that
have very much destroyed our Crops the low lands Everywhere
are drowned and the high lands the Tobacco washed so thin and
Carried So hastily to the house [s] that our Crops must be very
short we have intelligence from most parts of the Coun-
try the rains have been general and we hear Maryland is
in the same Condition some Compute we shall not make ab-
ove half the Tobacco we did last year I cannot think we
shall reach to two thirds I hope this will have a good Effect

-2 -

upon the Tobacco that has now gone home you have been very
dilatory in your Sales for some years past I believe it will
be prudence not to be in too much haste in selling this year
I have sent you four hogsheads of Tobacco out of James River
belonging to Mr. Burwells Estate by Captain Roger which you
are to Accot for Accordingly Herein I send you a bill of
of my Son Robert for £5"0"0 which I desire
Credit for

     I sent an Invoice for some goods to you by Captain
besides which I now desire you to send me twelve
dozen of your largest plaid Stockings Such as you Sent me
last year they answer very well as Also three dozen of your
Coarse large Worsted Stockings I am told you have
them from Aberdeen am in hopes your market now will
in some measure make up for the poor Account That you sent me last I am

                   your very humble Servt:

I send you herein another bill Mat Zuel on Miller Sterling & Company for
[. . .] And I draw upon you payable to Mr [ . . . ] for £6
which I desire you to answer at time I desire you to send me
6 pints of your best toasted snuff


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] The Caledon, commanded by John Stevenson in 1729, was owned in part by merchant John Zuil. In what British city Zuil lived is not clear, but it may have been Liverpool because city directories of 1767-1773 list a John Zuil as a merchant, first in Cable Street, and later, in King Street. This probably would have been a son of the man Carter knew, given the shorter lives at this period. (See Carter to Zuil, July 22, 1729; "Yuil Family Website," and Yule Family Newsletter , #24 (Fall 1998). )

[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] 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. )

[5] 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."

[6] Snuff is "a preparation of powdered tobacco for inhaling through the nostrils." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised May 15, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.