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 William Dawkins, August 26, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant William Dawkins, August 26, 1729, to request that he join with other merchants there as security for Carter's son Charles as naval officer of the Rappahannock. Carter notes the effect of the heavy summer rains in reducing crops in the colony, and orders nails, hoes, and axes.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins, August 26, 1729

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

Augst 26. 1729 --

Mr. William Dawkins


     This is a line designed by the Williambsurgh
My Son Robin being removed with his family into Westmoreland
County our Governour has been so kind to make my Son
Naval Officer of this River in his room. he has his Commission
and has given Security here Colonel Page and Doctor [sic ] Nicholas his brother
the Secretary being out of the way and now he desires You to stand as
his Security to the Commissioners of the Customs And Mr. Athawes
who he also reckons upon as being his particular friend being joined

-2 -

with you will be Enough however I have written to Mr: Falconar
and Mr: Bradley if there should be Occasion I don't at all doubt but any of the Merchants
I deal with would readily be joined with you Upon the least request it is highly Necessary secur
ity be given with all Expedition and I depend upon your Care for the doing
of it

     You will receive from many hands an Accot of the great des
truction upon our Crops by the Violent and incessant rains This
Summer without all doubt they will be abundantly short of what
we made last year to guess at the Quantum will be a very random
Shot. this with the liberty of Stemming gives us Encouraging hopes
we shall have better markets for the Tobacco already gone home than
of late years has fallen to our Lots

     I desire you would add to my Invoice twenty thousand
ten penny nails) and twenty thousand 8 Ditto ) two dozen weeding hoes)
two dozen hilling hoes) two dozn Grubbing hoes) and two dozen axes

     In all other respects I think I have Sufficiently Entertai
ned you already therefore with Wishes for your firm health I con
clude at Present

                  yor: Humble Servt:


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 nineteenth-century copy of this letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia. The parens in the next to last paragraph appear to have been entered by Carter's clerk, but apparently for some other reason than setting off parenthetical exressions.

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.

[1] The London ship Williamsburgh was a large vessel of 550 tons and carried a crew of 26 men. Charles Rogers commanded her in 1727-29. ( Admiralty 68/194, and 68/195, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[2] The naval officer was an official in the colony that reported to the Commissioners of Customs, a body that had first been established in 1663; the group was reorganized several times, especially after 1688. The board was "intrusted with collection of customs both in England and the colonies." The board helped write many of the instructions for colonial governors in collaboration with the Privy Council. "Their direct connection with the colonies was through the governors, who were instructed to correspond with the commissioners, and to send them, every three months, lists of clearances, and also reports of illegal trading. The governor's agent in matters of trade was the naval officer whom he was empowered to appoint, but who was required by the 7th and 8th William III to give security to the commissioners of customs." ( Louise Phillips Kellogg. The American Colonial Charter. A Study of English Administration in Relation Thereto, Especialy after 1688. [Annual Report, American Historical Association. Vol. 1, Govt. Print. Off., 1904], p. 226. For a recent study, see Alvin Rabushka. Taxation in Colonial America [Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008.] )

[3] the Rappahannock

[4] 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 )

[5] James Bradley was a London merchant with whom Carter dealt from at least 1723 until his death. As noted in his letter to Bradley of May 17, 1727, Bradley owned the Welcome, but little information about Bradley has been located. (There is a listing of the firm of Bradly & Griffin, Merchants, Fenchurch-street, opposite the Mitre Tavern, on page 13 of Kent's Directory For the Year 1740 Containing An Alphabetical List of the Names and Places of Abode of the Directors of Companies, Persons in Publick Business, Merchants, and other Eminent Traders in the Cities of London and Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark. [London: Printed and Sold by Henry Kent in Finch-Lane, near the Royal Exchange: and by the Booksellers and Pamphlets Shops of London and Westminster, 1740]. p. 39. Online, examined 8/12/2005 and 6/14/2012. )

[6] The Oxford English Dictionary Online offers this definition of quantum: "Total amount or quantity;."

[7] Parliament had passed an act forbidding the importation of stemmed tobacco in 1722. John Randolph was sent to England in 1728 as agent for Virginia to try to have the act overturned; his mission was successful, and he was home in the colony by June 2, 1729 , when Carter wrote to welcome him home. ( Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. [Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953], 116. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised May 19, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.