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 Edward Tucker, April 15, 1730

     Robert Carter writes to Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker, April 15, 1730, complaining about the low prices received for his tobacco, the good ale Tucker had sent but the poor packing of it, the tobacco he is shipping, and requesting the merchant find Carter's mining company an experienced copper miner.

Letter from Robert Carter to Edward Tucker, April 15, 1730

-1 -

[Rappahannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

Apl: 15. 1730

Edward Tucker Esqr


     I receiv'd your packets by Yr Ship Port
land CaptRussel with yr severall Accots of sales some
of them are very mean so low that at these rates we Shall
never be able to maintain our familys by our Labour
and yet I must own I fare no better in most other places

     The ale you sent me proves very good. I had
a prodigious damage in that which Came in the hamp:
ers. I must for the future desire what I have to be packt into
hhds the Charges will be the greater but find tis The much
safer way

     This comes by Jno Russel brings you a
bill of Lading for 10 hhds of Tobo. made at two of my
plantations it is all to one hhd that 20 odd hands made
there are some hhds of it that are Strip to promiscuously
into Luggs. I chose it as the better way to Avoid Shipping the
Crop trash and I think I can demonstrate that it is provide [d]
people are Carefull when we had the liberty of stemming
before We used to manage our under tobo this Way and I never
faild to have less than a 1/2 and 3/4 more for it a pound than
for the best leaf

     herein I send you a bill of Exch: drawn by
John Sharpley on yr Self for £5"1"3. which pleas to Accep
t or protest Pray remember my Accot Currt by Your Next altho by
a little reflection I may know how to Value my Self in yr books
I have yr favour in answer to mine from the freshes of our

-2 -

River you give me no hopes of Sending me a Mason if you
could send me in good digger that hath been a Worker in the Copper
and knows how to follow a Vein under Ground it
will be of a great Service to us by the many signs we have met with &
the Tryals we have made we have Certainly found a ps of ground
That has Copper mines in it We have been at a Great deal of Charge
already and have rais'd some small parcels of very good ore but for want of men
of Skill our progress is but little in the design Perhaps it may
lye in the Way of Yr: business to procure us men fit for our work
We are in a Company upon this design Colo Page my two
Sons and my Self compose this Company you will go
near to have a joynt letter from us upon this Affair I am

                  Yor most Humble Servant

Enclosd is likewise a bill of Exchange drawn by Capt
John Russel on yr self for £4"19
4 letter


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. That address as well as the county and colony have been added for clarity.

[1] John Russell commanded the Portland, a vessel owned by Weymouth merchant Edward Tucker as is noted in a letter from Carter to Tucker, June 28 and July 25, 1727. ( Survey Report 9729 detailing the Weymouth Port Books, Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. )

[2] 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. )

[2] "The lowest grade [of tobacco] was known as lugs as early as 1686. . . ." ( 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] 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. )

[5] 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. )

[6] John Shapley was made a justice in Northumberland County in 1725. (McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]: 82. )

[7] The Rappahannock

[8] In 1728, Carter, his sons Robert and Charles, and his son-in-law Mann Page, organized a company they named Frying Pan 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." Today, there is a Frying Pan Park just east of the border of the Dulles Airport reservation, and there are other things with the name in the area. The company was not successful. (Morton. Robert Robert Carter of Nomini Hall. pp. 18-19; and Harrison. Landmarks. . . . p. 342. )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised August 6, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.