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 Camp,] August 27, 1729

     Robert Carter writes to [William Camp,] August 27, 1729, the manager of his and the Burwell estate properties in York and nearby counties, concerning the stemming of tobacco and the construction of a mill.

Letter from Robert Carter to [William Camp,] August 27, 1729

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Corotomon, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Augt. 27th. 1729


     Sending a messenger on purpose with Some letters to go by
[t] he [Will] iamsburg, I [t]hought it proper to give you this line, I have not
[y] et determined whether to have you Stem all your Tobacco or no, at
[th] ose Quarters which bears a high Character, the other Quarters [. . .] va
[ . . . ] as Skedgye Creek & Lyons Creek, I beleve it will be prop [er] est
[ . . .] small, laying the lop leaf Straight & binding it into bundles
the under Tobacco to be Carefully & Neatly picked, and all manner of
T [rash] to be hove away, I am in Some doubt about the Lyon's Creek
[ . . .] , perhaps it will be best to make the top fair unspotted Tobacco
[ . . .] es, for we have many times had as much for that Crop
[ . . .] of them, The Same way I intend to have Merchants hundred
[ . . .] all ordered, making none but the very prime of
[the crop] into bundles, Clean Steming all the rest [ . . .]
[ . . .] ear it, to lay Straight & tie up. I would have you Consult [Colonel Page about the ?] management
of Burwells Crops

     The lying of my Rippon Mill this long unto [ . . . sticks]
[v] ery much in my Gizzard I am now with all my Streng [th working]
[o] n my dam that was Carried away, Rawson my Mill [er hath]
[be] en imployed a Considerable time about repairing [ . . .]
all of which wanted a great deal of work, And he is either gone
or going to Mrs. Wormleys to Mend build her Mill, & is engaged to do
it before he can touch mine I have all along designed & do Still [want ]
to have the most of my Mill framed at home where I think
[I C] an get all my Sills & timbers tht. are to lie Exp [ose] d to be [out]
[o] f Locust, although I am Still in hopes of getting [ . . .]
that may be wanting of Sound Cedar Some where about [ . . .]
[ . . .] now to bring Roson with [ . . .]
[ . . .] Mill must Stand, & how [ . . .]
[...plea] sed god to disappoint me [ . . .]
[ . . .] ever Considering how well hands [ . . .]
[ . . .] out the Rippon Gang to go about [ . . .]
[ . . .] ast half a Dozen of the [ . . .]
[ . . .] nt the work with all Expeditio [n ...]

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The Rest of the gang may very well get the Fodder [ . . .]
and I think if 3 or 4 of the best of mill hands [ . . .]
went to Assit them, for Six weeks or two months, [ . . .]
there would be no great damage done to that plantation [th] e
Difficulties Seem to lie in your way, one how to get [whe] el barrow [s]
I am in hopes your dam is so near finished that we may
get some from thence, or at least that there is Stuff enough
at your house to make Some, & that the Carpenters may be
Spared to make as many as we Shall want, they may be made
at home & Sent over in a Flat & this to be done with all Expedition

     The other Difficulty is to have a person always to be with these
people to keep them to their Work, it will be very hard as well as not Conve
-nient for Pasquet always to be there, & it will be Necessary tht. he be with
his other people often, in Carrying on the plantation Work, to remedy
this I propose that each of the other overseers Wright Madeson & O [li] ver
each take his day to be there one day in the Week, & that they take
turns one of them to be there two days, & Pasquet to attend two days
in every week, This I am Sure none of the overseers will Grumble at
they li [ving] within half an hours ride the furthest of them, you must
provid [e t] hem some Meat by killing either at Rippon or Merchants
hundred a Middling Hog, or a Cow, Bull, or Steer, as you Shall thing [sic ]
proper, Indeed I would all the people (it is hard work if they follow
it Close) a pound of Meat a man, one day if not two days in a week
thus I have laid the method of Carrying on my Dam, & it may be
made a noble one between this and December big & high enough I
recken to have nothing to do when the mill is built but Just to Stop
the water, I carry on my Dam here in the Same manner My Overseers
two & two take their day round & so fill up the week.

     If I remember right the earth at both end of the dam is
very good Clay; I must leave it to your Judgment from what place they
S [hould] Carry the earth, if both Sides are alike the Quickest way will [be to]
have half on it from one Side & half from the Other & the [ . . .]
into the Middle of the dam where it is now to be Stopped [ . . .]
to build the Mill on the first land on the lower or Nearer side [ . . .]
and by taking away the land therefore the Dam

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[ . . .] the larger which will be of service in the other
[ . . .] I intend to cut my Weast, but all these things
[I mus] t leave to your Consideration as you are upon the Spot*
[ . . .] I [ho] pe you will drive on this work with all the vigour &
Industry you can, & be as often there as you can be Spared
without damage to your other business, In which you
will very much oblige your friend

*I intend my Dam Shall be large &
high enough to pen water for a breast


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. The first page of this letter has suffered considerable damage including large sections missing along both margins. There is some damage to the second and third pages as well.

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

The addresse's name, if present on the draft, has been lost due to damage to the sheet. The editor believes that internal evidence indicates that the letter was addressed to William Camp; see footnote #1.

[1] William Camp (Kemp) was described by Carter as "the General Overseer of Mr Burwell's Affairs" and he wrote that Camp earned a salary "£50 . . . for the year 1731." Carter and his son-in-law, Mann Page, were the trustees of Nathaniel Burwell's children after Burwell's death in 1721. Camp was a resident of Gloucester County where most of the Burwell estates lay, and he must also have supervised "Rippon Hall" in nearby York County. ( Carter to George Braxton, November 20, 1729 , and Carter to William Dawkins, July 11, 1732, and Virginia Tax Records. [Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, Inc., 1983.] p. 539. )

[2y] 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. ( Adm 68/195, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[3] There is a Lyons Creek in York County and Carter probably refers to farms there that were under Camp's direction.

[4] "It is become the practice of all the Consigners almost in Virginia to tye up all their Ground Leaves that has any part of the leaf good and this wears the Name of under Tobbo. . . , " and "The lowest grade [of tobacco] was known as lugs as early as 1686. . . ." ( Carter to Perry , May 25, 1728, and Philip A. Bruce. Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century: An Inquiry into the Material Condition of the People, Based on Original and Contemporaneous Records. [New York: MacMillan and Co., 1896], I:442 online at "Classics of American Colonial History." )

[4] Rippon Hall had been Edmund Jenings' estate in York County which he had acquired in 1687 from John and Unity West when it was named "Poplar Neck." Jenings's bad financial circumstances forced him to mortgage the property to Carter who eventually acquired title to it. Carter obviously felt its mill would be a good acquisition .( "Notes and Queries." William and Mary Quarterly. 2[Apr. 1894]: 270-278, now available through the Internet Archive. )

[5] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "weast" is an obsolete meaning of "west." Accordingly, what Carter meant by the use of this word is unclear.

[6] A "breast shot water wheel-a water wheel powered by a head of water striking the wheel at the point from one-third to two-thirds the height of the wheel, causing the wheel to revolve in a direction opposite to that of the flow of the water in the sluice way or mill race." ("A Glossary of Mill Terms" online, 5/29/2015)

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised May 29, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.