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 Nicholas Nicholas, July 13, 1731

     Robert Carter as the representative of the Frying Pan (copper mining) Company writes to Nicholas Nicholas, July 13, 1731, to inform the on-site supervisor of work at the mine that his "articles" of employment require him to perform labor as well as to teach those put under him, and do not permit him to travel about. Carter answers complaints about food and Nicholas's salary.

Letter from Robert Carter to Nicholas Nicholas, July 13, 1731

-1 -

Corotomon, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

13 July 1731

Nicholas Nicholas,

     Yo [ur] s of the thirtieth of June I have. You tell a long Story about
your Drivings, which it seems have produced nothing of Ore valuable yet
You give us some hopes off finding better as you sink deeper. You are mistaken
when you think we have not proper Fluxes . We have as good as any England
Affords. You tell Us, you had some Mixture of Green in the Bottom of your
Drift . I have sent an Accot of the provision you carried away with you & was sent to
you since. You say That the Miners have never been one Day without Meat
sufficient. You tell me a bad Story of Haweis; that he is a discontented, wicked,
cursing, swearing Rascal. I have written to Mr Grayson fully about him to
treat him as a Common Servant by Indenture , as he & Brunton both are --
I admire Honey should go away with them Fellows, who I have heard a Good
Character of. If you had been Good Husbands of your Meat, it would not
have been gone so soon. You have had half a dozen Deer for Fresh Pro --
vision & I believe have had some more before now. You have now --
Plenty of Milk. It is admirable you should not be well contented: Good
Milk & Homony & Milk & Mush, & plenty of it, is what the Greatest Part of
the Country live upon at this time of year, & what you must be satisfied
with when until the Schooner comes up, which perhaps may be within this Fortnight
I have sent to Mr. Grayson yours Honey's & Whitford's Articles signed by the
Company. You flatter yourself that you are not obliged to work: If I understand
Your Articles, you are mistaken. You are not only to work yourself ; but
to use your Endeavour to teach those that We shall think fit to put under
you. You are very urgent for your Wages. When the account is made up, I reckon
there will not be Abundance due to you; & although we should fall be=
hind hand with you & be a Quarter's Wages in your Debt, you have no --
Reason to be uneasy at it. You will be sure of having your full Due in the
;                                                                          End

-2 -

End. You tell me, that for the Holidays & other times that you misspend it is no
more than customary in England. Your Indentures mention no such custom,
nor do I believe there is any such But whatever you & Whitford & Honey may
pretend to, I am sure Burton & Haweis have no such Custom to plead.
They are bound to us by a Common Indenture & are to serve us four years from
their Arrival, & I have ordered Mr Grayson to use them accordingly. Haweis need
not trouble himself to write to Mr Athawes; I shall give him a full character
of him.

     When the Schooner comes I shall remember some Linen for you & a little
Money. I shall conclude with wishing you would make it your utmost
Endeavour to let us get something by your Labour to answer the vast charge
you stand us in; & expect, that, as you are our Servants upon wages, we
shall be obliged to make you do your Duty, & We shall do all things that
is reasonable on our parts; but, if otherwise, we must take the proper
Measures to compel you to it. It will be best that both Sides do their parts; you
in letting us have your utmost Labour & Indstry, & we in providing you
what is fit for such Men to have; which I am sure hitherto we have very
done, liberally which is all at present from Your Friend & Master

PS. I observe you write to my Son for a Saddle & Bridle & have written to me for a fine holland shirt & have
provided yourself with a Horse. I suppose these are preparations for your taking yor Pleasure abroad. If you
look into your articles I believe you will find no such Liberties reserved to you. I do assure you every day you are
from yor business, you shall have so much of your wages cut off


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.

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

[1] From this letter, it is apparent that Nicholas Nicholas is the on-site supervisor of the miners at the Frying Pan mine.

[2] A flux is "any substance that is mixed with a metal etc. to facilitate its fusion." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[3] In mining a drift is "a passage 'driven' or excavated horizontally, for working, exploration, ventilation, or draining; esp. one driven in the direction of a mineral vein." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[4] 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. )

[5] Carter uses the word "admire" in a sense that is no longer current. The Oxford English Dictionary defines what he means as "to feel or express surprise, or astonishment; to wonder, to marvel, to be surprised."

[6] To husband is to "administer as a good householder or steward; to manage with thrift and prudence; to use, spend, or apply economically; to make the most of; to economize; also, to save, lay by a store of.{" ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[7] Hominy is "maize or Indian corn hulled and ground more or less coarsely and prepared for food by being boiled with water or milk." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[8] According to the Oxford English Dictionary Online a fortnight is "a period of fourteen nights; two weeks."

[9] 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." 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. )

[10] Hollands was a "a closely woven white linen used especially for shirts and bed linen." ( "Of Silk, Cotton, Linen and Wool." 18c New England Life: Clothing & Accoutrements. 1/8/04. )

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised January 18, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.