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 Benjamin Grayson, July 27, 1731

     Robert Carter writes to Benjamin Grayson, manager of the Frying Pan copper mine, July 27, 1731, expressing his pleasure at the stories he has heard of the discovery of a rich vein of ore, urging diligence in pursuing the vein, and giving Grayson information about money and supplies that will be sent by the schooner. His sons Robert and Charles will visit the mine, and he expects to do so in September.

Letter from Robert Carter to Benjamin Grayson, July 27, 1731

-1 -

[Corotoman, Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 27th. 1731

Mr. Benj. Grayson

     By William Manuel I gave you all the necessary
directions for the Government of self in relation to the Miners s according
to the circumstances of their Case as it then stood, & I hope you have fol=
lowed my orders exactly since which yours of the 14th. Instant by Pockely
came to the hands of my son Robert & from him to me it brought the
most promising hopes that ever we have yet had the samples you sent
are very rich not inferior to the best of Skilers Ore since that my son
Charles met with a random story that the vein grew larger rather than
less & now from Warner in a letter dated the 23d. Instant he tells me that
on the Wednesday before at Prince William Court Shaw told him of a fine
vein you had discovered that in the week before you had mined three Tons
of this Ore that it Yields above half Copper, that he would give

-2 -

fifty pounds Per Ton for it here in the County; These are flushing
hopes & if they are true we hope & earnestly desire you will use
your utmost industry & Courage to make Hay while the sun shines
& let the Miners want no assistance you can give them with your
people & now your Corn is laid aside you have it in your power
to make use of as many of the Hands as you can fairly employ in rais=
ing as much of this Ore as possibly you can between this and the
last of September two or three hundred Ton of this Ore would
lick all old sores pretty whole & make the wheels of Action
run so smooth that we should be enabled to support all our
Charges with pleasure, My Son Charles purposes to be up with
you next month & I am not without hopes of seeing you in September
my self

     This comes by the Schooner & brings you a supply to your
Wants an Invoice of the things sent is here enclosed every thing
comes that you sent for except the Corn which I could not now
send without hindering the Schooner three or four days at least which
I was very unwilling to do & there is no reason to doubt of your
wanting of it soon & my son Robert assures me there is thirty or
forty barrls. of Corn to spare at his bull run Quarter which
you may have recourse to in Case of necessity but that is impos=
sible to be your Case before we can send you a supply from hence

     Surely you are very brisk in Spawling & barreling of this
ore & that your Team is daily employd in Carting it down to the
Landing It would be very pleasing to us to have the Schooner turn
back with a full Load & I have orderd her if you think It proper to
to [sic ] stop her to lie at Occoquan Eight or ten days, I have sent you
two thousand twenty penny nails which Is all that I can possibly
spare at present & with these you may lay down the floors
& have enough to spare for the other business there is no necessity for
for [sic ] your thorough nailing of it at present, that may be done
when you have a fresh supply of nails

-3 -

     My son Robert is now with me he carrys up with him £12:
Currt money which you are to dispose of as our head miners I
mean Nicholas Honey & Whitford earns it & are urgent
with you for it, You are to hold an Account with them they
will be so honest as to tell you what money we advanced to
them before they came out of England & you know what they
owe for Rum, This Money My son will deliver to our skip=
per Evans we do not care to venture more at once every
three & twenty Current is twenty shillings sterling My son Charles
when he come up is to bring more money with him &
when I come it will hardly be with empty Pockets, You
may assure the three fore named Miners if their be=
havior is suitable shall have their wages paid to them
with all imaginable punctuality as fast as it become due
& if they want any goods we will let them have them as
reasonable as they can buy them any where & will take
care to have a supply of such goods as they shall let us
know will be most suitable for them

     In one of your letters you say you had stuff for a hundred
Barrels I hope you will remember my orders to have these Barrels made
So Large that none of them should contain less but rather More than 400 lbs
of ore besides the tare 5 Barrels should contain 21 lbs of Neat ore
which they always reckon a Ton.

     I have sent you 12 Pistoles they Weigh thirteen
pounds & five pence Currt money the cask of Rum I now send you
holds thirty one Gallons Exactly you must by al [l] means send me down
the Rum Cask you had before and what rundlets you have empty
and likewise powder Barrels we are mighty Put to it to find
things to send liquors and powder to you must also send me down the
Molasses cask that You have had


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 name of Carter's home, "Corotoman," the county, and colony have been added for clarity to this unheaded draft.

[1] 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. )

[2] Bull Run Quarter was a farm on bull Run Creek in Prince William County identified in Carter's will as "that tract or parcel of land I lately bought of William rust lying in Hartford County upon the branches of Bull Run" and in his inventory as "belonging to the Estate [of] Robt Carter Junr Esq. . . ." There were then 19 cattle on the property. Fairfax Harrison wrote that in 1726 there was a bill before the House of Burgesses proposing to "divide Stafford [County] at Aquia creek and create above that boundary a county to be named Hartford, but after debate the proposal was rejected." (Harrison. Landmarks. . . . pp. 311-312, citing the Journals of the House of Burgesses, 1727-1740. pp. 408-414. )

[3] According to the Oxford English Dictionary, spawling has to do with spittle or expectoration. However, a web search reveals that the term is used today in mining and civil engineering to mean breaking fragments from a face of stone or ore. Perhaps the term was used in Carter's day, and he had learned it from his miners. ("Webster's Online Dictionary, ", 4/29/2006.)

[4] The Occaquan River is a major tributary of the Potomac River that lay in Stafford County in Carter's day. Much of the river today is known as the Bull Run, and forms the boundary between Fairfax and Prince William counties, and to the west, between Loudoun and Prince William counties. ( Alexandria Drafting Company. Regional Northern Virginia. [Alexandria, VA: Alexandria Drafting Company, 2002.] Coverage of Fairfax, Fauquier, Loudoun, and Prince William counties.)

[5] The tare weight is the weight of the container "that is deducted from the gross weight to obtain the net weight" of the product held in the container. ( The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed., Houghton Mifflin Company, 2000. Updated in 2009. Quoted online by The Free Dictionary, 9/13/2011.)

[6] By "neat ore" Carter means "to gain (a sum) as a net profit; to net." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[7] 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. )

[8] Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1913 states that a rundlet is "a small barrel of no certain dimensions. It may contain from 3 to 20 gallons, but it usually holds about 14 1/2 gallons."

This text, originally posted in 2006, was revised February 15, 2016, to add footnotes and strengthen the modern language version text.