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 to William Howeis & Robert Brunton, July 13, 1731

     Robert Carter writes to William Howeis & Robert Brunton, July 13, 1731, to remind them of their positions as indentured servants, informing them both that Benjamin Grayson is to be their master and that they are to have less meat and "drubbings" to correct their "villanous" behavior.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Howeis & Robert Brunton, July 13, 1731

-1 -

Corotomon, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

13 July 1731

Wm Howeis &
Robert Brunton

     I have understood you have both behaved your selves in
a very Villanous & base Manner; not like such Servants as you are --
by your Indentures , tht is Diggers in the Mines. I have therefore thought it
proper to send to Mr Grayson Copies of your Indentures, that he may know
tht you are our Servants for four years from the Time of your Arrival into the

-2 -

Countrey; & that, if you do not know how to behave your Selves as Servants, --
that he should make you do it by Correction suitable to your Deserts . And to
that End I do hereby let you know that I do appoint him your Master in
the Absence of Me or of my sons, giving him the same Power over yo we have
you pretend to Holidayes & what not; but I forbid it you & order him to
make you work dayly, as the Rest of my servants tht are there do day by day,
keeping no more Holidayes on non Saturdayes in the afternoon than they do --
It seems one of you (Haweis) is a very prophane Rogue, curses his
Meat & us that are his Masters. I order Mr Grayson not to let you have so
much Meat as you have had. And, seeing you have abused the Kindness you
have met with, to treat you in a worse manner than you have been, &
give you sound Drubbings suitable to your Merits. You shall know you
have Masters tht will not be fooled by You, but will use the proper way,
with you to bring you to better Manners.


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. There is a 19th-century transcript of the letter in the Minor-Blackford Papers, James Monroe Law Office and Museum, Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The county and colony have been added for clarity to the heading on this draft.

[1] As is clear from this letter, and the two of this date to Benjamin Grayson, Howeis and Brunton were indentured servants Carter had hired through his agents in London to come to Virginia to work in the Frying Pan Copper mines that Carter and his sons were developing.

[2] 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. )

[3] Benjamin Grayson was, according to Fairfax Harrison, "one of the earliest of the Scots merchants to be established on Quantico, where Dumfries was to arise." He was appointed a justice of Prince William County in November 1731. (Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 156 and McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]: 256. )

[4] Carter mens by "deserts" "deserving; the becoming worthy of recompense, i.e. of reward or punishment, according to the good or ill of character or conduct. . . . " ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[5] A drubbing is a "beating, a thrashing." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised January 12, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.