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 John Zuil, July 9 and August 7, 1731

     Robert Carter writes to Liverpool mechant John Zuil, July 9, 1731, concerning the sales of tobacco shipped on the Calledon, and alerting him to a bill of exchange to George Braxton. In a lengthy post script dated August 7, 1731, Carter reports shipments of tobacco on board the Calledon, and the Lucia, and requests Zuil send him 6 pints of snuff.

Letter from Robert Carter to John Zuil, July 9 and August 7, 1731

-1 -

Rappa [hannock, Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 9th 1731

Mr. John Zeuil


     I have received your favour with the Accot of sale of
my 6 hogsheads tobacco by the Calledon I will not complain of the mean ness of it
it is as good as Mr. Starks for the rest of that tobacco in the ship which you [[give]]
me good Character of But that gentleman speaks of it in another [. . .]
Now some more tobacco on board the Calledon The number of hogsheads I do not
know I have sent to my son the Secretary to take bill of Lading for [ them I have]
directed him to c [onsign them] to you The Occasion of this to advise [you]

-2 -

I have this day drawn upon you A bill of Exchange Payable to Colonel
George Braxton for fifty Pounds which I desire you to answer
at time upon my Accot Thus far I think I may very safely value
my Self upon you I am

                   Your Humble Servt --

Copy Per Dove
Copy Per Bowman

-3 -

Added to Mr. John Zuil Letter July 9: 1731
Sir --                                                                                              August 7. 1731

     Since the above I had an Accot that I had 8 hogsheads of tobacco
on board the Calledon the Seamen left out two that they had orders for
I had intended to have made up the Number 20 by that Ship
but I now do it and more per the Lucia Captain Bowman a bill of
Lading for 20 hogsheads (you have herein) on board her, I leave the tobacco
to plead for it Self in respect of the quality I fetched it home and had it
prized at my own house Saw a great deal of it and I must say that I take the
tobacco this year to be better and better handled than I have seen it for
many Years Past They are of good Weights and I flatter myself will
turn to a pretty incouraging price The Sooner you Can make your Sales
they generally prove the better and to be sure are the more Satisfactory
to us. I desire you would Send me 6 pints of your Best Snuff . I used
to get myself Supported in this Extravagance by the Merchants of your
Country but the times of giving & Receiving presents of this sort are not
much in practice in the dull times We have now over us I shall not
give you any further trouble only with a great deal of heartiness and to

Sir --

               Your very humble Servant

I am indebted to Captain Stevenson a pistole.
which I desire you debit my Accot with 17 Shillings sterling.


Source copy consulted: Letter book, 1731 July 9-1732 July 13 , 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. The county and colony have been added for clarity. The first page of this draft has suffered considerable water damage making it extremely difficult to read.

[1] John Zuil was a merchant and was probably the ship's captain that Carter mentioned in his diary August 1, 1722, "Zuil Saild Gave me a Bottle Snuff." Carter recorded a diary note about him the following year as well: December 30, 1723, "mr Zuil & man came back" [from church]. In what British city Zuil lived is not clear, but it may have been Liverpool because city directories of 1767-1773 list a John Zuil as a merchant, first in Cable Street, and later, in King Street. This probably would have been a son of the man Carter knew, given the shorter lives at this period. ( "Yuil Family Website," and Yule Family Newsletter , #24 (Fall 1998). )

[2] The Caledon, commanded by John Stevenson in 1729, was owned in part by merchant John Zuil.

[3] John Stark was a prominent Glasgow merchant in the sugar trade. He served as as baillie and provost (mayor) from 1725-1727. ( John M'ure. The History of Glasgow. [Glasgow: D. Macvean and J. Wyllie & Co., 1830] pp. 227-228 as seen on Google books; and "Provosts of Glasgow" at "Welcome to Glasgow" . )

[4] 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. )

[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] Captain Samuel Bowman commanded the Lucia. Carter mentioned this vessel in his diary in June 1724, and again on 1726 March 4 when he wrote that she "came in had 20 Weeks Passage."

[7] To prize is "to compress (cured tobacco) in a hogshead or box." There is a good description of the process on pages 100-101 in Middleton's Tobacco Coast. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press; and Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. [Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953]. )

[8] Snuff is "a preparation of powdered tobacco for inhaling through the nostrils." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[9] The Content was a Liverpool ship owned by John Pemberton and commanded by various masters including captains Stephenson (1721) , Fowler (1723), and Morton (1727). (Wright. Letters of Robert Carter. . . . pp. 92, 93, 102 ; and Carter to Pemberton, February 14, 1721, and June 28, 1727. )

[10] A pistole, often called a doblon, was a "Spanish gold double-escudo dating from the 1530s and surviving into the 19th cent.; (also) any of various coins derived from or resembling this from the 17th and 18th centuries." See the illustration on page 5 of John J. McCusker. Money & Exchange in Europe & America 1600-1775 A Handbook. [Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press for the Institute of Early American History and Culture, 1978.], and discussion in note 3 on page 6. ( Oxford English Dictionary Online. .

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised November 10, 2015, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.