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 et al. to James Bradley, September 15, 1729

     Robert Carter, on behalf of himself and his partners, writes to London merchant James Bradley, September 15, 1729, requesting his assistance in obtaining miners for their copper mining project.

Letter from Robert Carter et al. to James Bradley, September 15, 1729

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

Sepr 15 1729

Mr: James Bradly


     A few days ago we sent on board the Sarah a
small Barrel of ore which we have had dug out of a mounta=
nous piece of Land
belonging to us and with a line from Colonel
Carter requesting you would be at the trouble to make the Nicest
Trial you Could of the Value of this Ore what part of it might be
Copper We have Since met with a Person skilled in these things
who before our faces has Extracted out of some of the best of it
above a fourth Near a third of good Solid Copper which whets up
our humours to be as Vigorous as we Can in making Searches into
this Piece of land what body of Ore is to be found there and in or=
der to [do] this our first Work must be to get in some Proper labourers
that are Skilled in digging and raising this Ore of which we are told
there are great numbers in the mines both of Cornwall & Derby that
would gladly be hired to come oversea at Moderate Wages being hardly
able to get their bread where they are a Couple of such we would requ
est you to Procure for us and send us in as soon as Possible the wag=
[es] you shall agree for We will punctually Answer Our meaning is to have
a Couple of labourers that shall be leaders in the Work and raisers of the Ore
as for a head man we think we Can furnish our Selves here or at
least that it will be time Enough to be provided with with such a one
When We Come to find there is a foundation to give Encouragement for
the further prosecution of this design. We also desire you to let us
fully in to as much as you Can learn about this Affair also what
duties this Ore will pay in England and what the duty would be
if it were run into Copper Your kind favour in all these particu

-2 -

from the other side

lars will very much oblige

                  your most Humble Servts.
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     This refiner for so he Calls himself tells us such men as we want
he thinks are to be brought in by the year Perhaps they may not care to come abroad
unless they are hired for the longer time for two year or three years it may be this we must
leave to your management He says he has had Occasion to hire some to the
Northward to whom he gave £3 pound per month but thinks were they to be
hired by the year they will take less if you oblige us to pay their Wages in
the Current money of the Country it will be much Easier for us than Sterling
which does not go in Our Current Payments Unless Expressly stipulated
And it is necessary that a Clause be added in the Indentures that if
they do not understand the business they are hired for they would be en=
titled to no wages or at least to no more than what is given to Common
labourers and such a Clause as this is Common in tradesmens indentures
that are sent into us


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter Letter Book, 1727 April 13-1728 July 23, Carter Family Papers, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond. There is a nineteenth-century copy of this letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, 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. The county and colony have been added for clarity to the heading on the draft.

Because this letter is written in the plural and deals with the affairs of the Frying Pan Company that Carter and his son-in-law, Mann Page, and his sons Robert and Charles, organized for mining copper, it seems likely that Carter wrote it jointly.

[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] The Sarah was a 120-ton London vessel with a crew of 13 commanded by John Reynolds in 1728 and 1729. ( Adm 68/194 and 195, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[3] In 1728, Carter, his sons Robert and Charles, and his son-in-law Mann Page, organized a company to mine for copper on a tract of some 27,000 acres that Louis Morton describes as lying "near the present boundary of Fairfax and Loudoun counties." Fairfax Harrison wrote that the tract was "on the Horsepen of Broad." Horsepen Run joins Broad Run on the northern border of Dulles airport. The company was not successful. (Morton. Robert Robert Carter of Nomini Hall. pp. 18-19; and Harrison. Landmarks. . . . p. 342. )

[4] Carter uses the word humours" in a sense now rare: "an excited state of public feeling." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[5] An indenture is a contract between two or more parties. It is so named because copies of such a contract in early times were often written at the top and the bottom of a sheet which was then cut apart in a jagged or indented manner. The copies could then be fitted together to prove autheiticity. "The contract by which an apprentice is bound to the master . . . by which a person binds himself to service in the colonies, etc." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

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