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 James Bradley, [August 29, 1729]

     Robert Carter writes to London merchant James Bradley, [August 29, 1729], concerning his and others' efforts to establish a copper mine and requesting Bradley's assistance in finding miners to carry on the work.

Letter from Robert Carter to James Bradley, [August 29, 1729]

-1 -

[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]     

Mr James Bradley


     The miserable times we have of late years
fallen Under by the low prices of our tobacco the only staple we have
to support ourselves and our familys by [illegible] have
driven us to search into the bowels of the Earth to see if we can
find a treasure there to Contribute to our releif by [illegible] emp:
loying the labour of some of our people that Way And we
have been so fortunate to fall upon a place affording a Copper Ore
how much of it there may be we cannot yet tell time and Charge
and not a little of the latter too must bring to light what Encoura:
gem ent we may meet with in this design And the first step we
have to take is to get proper persons skilled in these matters to
Assist us in this project We are informed there are abundance of
people of low Circumstances both in the mines of Cornwall
and in those of Derbyshire whose whole trade it is to be

-2 -

digging up the Ore and raising it to the Surface of the Earth
are to be hired upon very small Wages Either by the month
or the year and that there are so many of these people that
they Can hardly get their bread for their work and it is very Eas
y to get as many of them as we desire to Come oversea upon
Moderate Wages

     We have heard your father has been Concerned in Iron
works and it may be in Copper mines also and we are Ap
you may be no stranger to them and are a very fit
person to apply to to procure and Send us some of these mine
diggers We mean labourers for the raising the Ore and skilled
in Working under Ground and driving after the Veins according
to their turnings and Windings whether two or four or 1/2 a dozen
may be proper to be employed we must leave to your judgment to
Consider And to make the best bargains you Can for us
and to dispatch them to us with the first opportunity you
Can Easily no doubt Create a Correspondence if you have
not one already into these Counties where these miners are
to be got We think it advisable to begin with a few of them at
first Until we see how large the veins of Ore may prove
[To b] ring in Two or three or 1/2 a dozen of these labouring men
upon Wages for a year or two or three as they are to be got we
think may be done with no great Charge to us When we find it
will be worth our whiles We Expect it will be absolut absolu:
tely necessary for us to Endeavour the getting in a Miner of better
Circumstances and that Will not Come Over to us but upon muc [h]
higher Wages to be a director an Overseer and Manager of them

-3 -

but this seems to be too Early until we have made a further trial

     We have sent some of the Ore already to London
and some to Bristol and a trial has been made in both places
and it is agreed by both on all hands it is a Copper Ore the but they disa
gree in respect of quantity the London Experimt affords the
[illegible] and affords an 8th part Copper We have now two little casks
of this Ore ready to be shipped for London but We are doubtful
we shall not be able to get it on board any of the Present ships
We have got some Tons more of it down to a landing but it will
be impossible to get that shipped this Season

     We want to be informed whether the most Advantage:
ous way will be to Ship off this ore as it is or if we Could get
it Manufactured into Copper whether that would turn the
greatest Profit We are informed the duty upon Copper is a
great deal We know that Skyler to the Northward who it is
said has one of the richest Copper mines in the world send [s] his ore

     The trouble you shall give yourself in this Affair upon
our Account We shall thankfully Acknowledge and if you send in
Any labouring Miners to [us] upon Wages that have been used
to the digging and raising this Ore we shall punctually [com:]
ply with the Contracts you make What you shall thin [k fit]
to do in Serving us in this Affair we desire may be Carried on
with the least noise possible We are

                  your most Humble Servts:


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.

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. This address, the county, and colony have been added for clarity to this unheaded draft.

This undated draft appears in the letter book with others of the date that has been assigned to it.

[1] 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. )

[2] Carter uses the word "apprehensive in what the Oxford English Dictionary Online states is an obsolete meaning: "capable of being apprehended, apprehensible; intelligible."

[3] Carter refers to the copper mine discovered (in 1713) and operated by Arent Schuyler in New Jersey. "Arent Schuyler mined about 100 tons of [copper] ore annually and sent it to Holland for smelting." (See Wikipedia articles on Arent Schuyler and on the "Schuyler Copper Mine ; and "PAL Inc. for Arthur D. Little, Inc. and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New England District. to the Mid-Twentieth Century" in Historical Context and Preliminary Resource Evaluation of the Elizabeth Mine, South Stafford, Orange County, Vermont. Concord, MA, 2001. p. 3.3. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised June 9, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.