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 Thomas, Lord Fairfax, May 21, 1730

     Robert Carter writes to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, proprietor of the Northern Neck, May 21, 1730, concerning a lease Fairfax has given Bristol merchants, noting that he had encouraged them but told them it would be some time before Fairfax would receive any profits from their venture. He turns to the attempt he and his family are mking to exploit signs of copper, but notes their discouragement. He understands that Fairfax will consult with Michajah Perry about defending the boundaries of the proprietary, and a new lease of it for Carter. The reports of iron mining are not to be relied upon because the cost of transporting the ore is very high. He turns to attacks in the colony upon the proprietary, noting that there may be action when the Assembly meets soon since there have already been attempts to change the boundaries.

Letter from Robert Carter to Thomas, Lord Fairfax, May 21, 1730

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Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

May 21, 1730

The Rt.. Honorable
the Lord Fairfax --
My Lord

     The honour you did me in a letter of the 9th of November
last did not reach my hands until the 9th of March. in it you are
pleased to acquaint me with the Lease you had transacted with some
Bristol Merchants and to desire me to permit them to work unmolested from
whence I conjecture they had given your Lordship information of some
disturbance I had threatened them with if they have said any thing of
this nature to your Lordship it is a very wrong charge I was so far
from discouraging that I encouraged them all I could in their design. One
of their partners here Offered to compound with me for your Lordship ['s]
share to whom I answered their Adventures would be carried on to so
little purpose in my time that I should not concern myself about it any
further than to wish them a great deal of success and when I saw your
Lordships lease which was shown to me by Colonel Tayloe one of their part=
ners I told him I was glad that your Lordship had made such a
favourable step to their design but I believe it will be a great While before
any benefit by this lease will arise to your Lordship the Undertakers
have made very little progress yet and have not sent [sic ] sent in [in] this Shipp
[i] ng any people skilled in the Affair to carry on their business and as
I am told are under a great deal of discouragements and have sent for
home their chief Workman whom they sent in on purpose for this design
to give them an Accot of his discoveries which have turned to very little

     In my letter to your Lordship of the 24th of June
last among many other things I gave you an Account of this place
where the Bristol men are upon and also of another that had some
shows of Copper this other place lies high up Potomac and far from
water some others of my family with myself have been at considerable
charge already to find out what this place will yield but to little purpose
hitherto in our first searches we met with some veins of ore amounting to
some few tons which we are now Sending, for
                                                                                             -- --

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to make a trial of what Value they are but as we went deeper the
veins grew less and instead of increasing our hopes we are very doubt=
ful we may ever find out any Considerable body of ore Worth our
While however we intend to push on our Trials a Little further what
I tell this Story to your Lordship for is that we are in hopes as your
Lordhip has gone into a lease with the Bristol Men to give encourag=
ement to these designs so you will Please to come into the same measures
with us in favour of our design if ever We Can bring it to Anything

     In the latter part of your Lordship's letter you Acquaint
me that When Mr. Perry returned to London you should pursue such
Measures in relation to your boundaries as Should Appear most prope [r]
Mr Perry writes to me to the same purpose and as to the renewing of my
lease you had promised to do it after his return from the Bath from whence
I have reason to Conclude these matters are effected before this time

     Your Lordship tells me you expected some proposals abo [u] t
the Iron Works I cannot see how any Advantage can be made to
your Lordship from them Works the ore lies near the Surface of the earth
they buy it for little or nothing from the Owners of the Land I have been
Several times at the place my self they raise it with very little trouble
or Charge their great chuarge is in Carting it down about 9 miles to
a landing and from thence Water bearing it about 40 more to their
furnace now what advantage it will be to your Lordship or anybody
under you to demand apart [sic ] of this ore where it is dug I can't con=

     I am now to acquaint your Lordship of a fresh Attack
is lately made against your Grant who have been the Springs of it
I shall not take upon me to Say but there are now grievances sent
from the inhabitants of most of the Counties within your grant com
plaining of the hardships they are under by it and desiring that the
King may be addressed either to purchase or reassume the Grant that
they may be under the same circumstances that the rest of the Country
--                                                             are

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What these complaints may be Worked up to in our Assembly which sits
down to day I can't pretend to tell I have already told your Lordship what
potent enemies our revenue gentlemen were against the boundaries
&ca. and there's no Doubt to be made but their utmost strength will be
employed in Carrying this Complaint to the highest Pitch their
fingers itch to have this grant added to their places and I have rea=
son to think that these disturbances have much encouraged the inha
bitants to be very backward in paying in their rents although I am forced
to take them in tobacco and that not to be sold now for 3 Shillings per hundred
for I never had so few of the rents receiv'd at this time of year before
Since I have been in the business

     For my own part in my justification I can say
I have made no Alteration in anything relating to the Execution
of the Grant nor is anything done but What is Very justififiable under
it I observe the same measures in all my demands as I have done
ever since I was concerned and as the rest of the agents before me did

     I remember about the year 1695. (as I think) such
a [hole in leaf] Struggle was made by greivances to an Assembly [ag=]
ainst the grant and the then house of Burgesses joined in a [n]
Address to the king, to purchase or reassume, it was carried to the
Council where it was Stopped and went no further Sir Edmund Andros
was then our governour. I have thought it necessary to lay these things
befor [e] your Lordship that your Lordship may be 'fore Apprised and enter
upon such measures your Lordship may think most proper for your secu=
rity to Extricate yourself and those that are employed under you here out
of the said difficulties I am

              My Lord Yr Lordships
                  Most Obt & most humble Servant
                    ROBERT CARTER


Source copy consulted: Additional Manuscripts, 30316, British Library, London, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. This is the recipient's copy signed by Carter (as is indicated by the use of bold italics). The address leaf reads: The Rt Honble | Thomas Lord Fairfax | Baron of Cameron | at | Leeds Castle | under Alderman Perrys | Cover.

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 to persons abroad. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

[1] John Tayloe (1687-1747) of Mt. Airy, Richmond County, who served as justice, burgess, colonel of militia, and as a member of the Council after 1732. (Ryland. Richmond County Virginia. . . . pp. 115-16. )

[2] 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. )

[3] ". . . it is not known exactly when the health giving qualities of Bath springs were first noticed. They were certainly known to the Romans who built a temple there around 50 AD. . . . They also built a public baths which was supplied by the hot springs. . . . In the 60s and 70s AD a town grew up on the site of Bath . . .In the late 17th century Bath continued to be a quiet market town. It largely depended on its springs. From 1661 Bath water was bottled and sold. . . . In the 18th century Bath became a much more genteel and fashionable place. It boomed in size. This was largely due to the efforts of Richard 'Beau' Nash 1674-1762 who was made Master of Ceremonies. Many fine buildings were erected in Bath. . . . A Pump Room was built in 1706. . . . During the Summer Georgian Bath was full of rich visitors. They played cards, went to balls and horse racing, went walking and horse riding. However the high life was only for a small minority." ("A Brief History of Bath. " 7/17/2015)

[4] "The receiver-generalship was a royal appointment" and the official was required to give bond both to the lord of the treasury and to the governor. "Those who filled the office of receiver-general were practially all councillors. . . . The duties of the receiver-general included the receiving of the quit-rents, the revenue arising from the export duty of two shillings per hogshead on tobacco, the one penny per pound on tobacco exported from Virginia . . . the port duty, which was the revenue arising from the fifteen pence per ton on all vessels arriving in the colony, and all funds of the colony not received by the treasurer. . . . He paid out of the revenue . . . the salaries of the officers of the colony, also those of the auditor-general of the colonies and the solicitor of Virginia affairs, both of whom lived in England. All the public expenses of the colony, except, of course, those paid out of the funds held by the treasurer, were paid out of the funds received in his office. . . . He of course reported to the lords of the treasury all payments made on the order of the governor. The accounts of the revenues and the reports of disbursements forwarded to the lords of the treasury were certified to by the auditor and the governor, and sent by the governor." (Percy Scott Flippin. The Financial Administration of the Colony of Virginia [Johns Hopkins Press, 1915.] 41-42. )

[5] SirEdmund Andros (1637-1714) soldier, diplomat under the Duke of York (later King James II), governor of the colony of New York. He was appointed governor of Virginia in 1692 by King William with whom he had served in the army. He governed until 1698. ( Richard R. Johnson. "Andros, Sir Edmund" in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [, accessed 9/11/2015] )

This text, originally posted in 2005, was revised September 22, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.