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 Dawkins & Company, July 29, 1731

     Robert Carter writes to London merchants William Dawkins & Company, July 29, 1731, concerning tobacco he has shipped on board the Bailey for himself, his son Robert, and the Burwell and Mann Page estates. He encloses an invoice (not present) for goods, mentions his claims against merchant John Falconar's estate and the affairs of the Frying Pan copper mine, his and Dawkins' problems in being part-owner of trading ships, and Tom Dove's hard work in the colony this year as master of the Bailey. He adds that should Dawkins decide to build a new ship for Dove, he would be willing to own a portion of her, and alerts them to several bills of exchange. He presses the merchants to return to a former method in their accounts, and of his need for a new clerk to replace Richard Chapman.

Letter from Robert Carter to William Dawkins & Company, July 29, 1731

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]

July 29 -- 1731

Mr. William Dawkins & Company


     This I intend as the Concluding stroke to my
business Per [the ] Bailey Brings to you the Bills of Lading for the tobacco on
board her Vizt thirty hogsheads of my own tobacco three of them leaf.
Purchase tobacco all the rest stemmed & my own Crops 6 hogsheads belonging to
my Son Robert also stemmed and of as good a Crop as Any I have 8 hogsheads
stemmed belonging to Mr. Burwells Estate which Captain Hyde has always
sold very well also 22 hogsheads belong to Colonel Pages Estate stemmed likewise
of which you have already had an Account
My own consignmt of my own tobacco this Year in the whole is 102 hogsheads

     Besides the Invoice of goods I have already
written for for the Use of my families I now send another small invoice
which I would have Come in as Early as you can and by no means to Come be shipped in
the same Ship with my other Invoice that I may not risk both in the same
both in the same bottom

     I have already Written so fully and so frequently
about the Several Sums of money due to me from Mr Falconars Executors
and have so fully Lodged that Matter within your Power that to me there
seems no reason for doubt the Payment of those Balances into your hands witho [u] t
any further trouble either to you or to myself before this will reach you

     I find you throw the whole Affair of our Copper
upon the Sholders of Mr. Athawes just as it is with him sometimes
I find our hopes the next news ready to despair in the same manner has been
[no ?] entertainments since we have got the Miners to Work Mr. Athawes
[ has ] a full history of these matters therefore I shall not give you the
[trouble ?] of repetition

-2 -

     I observe you make heavy Complaints of your Concerns in
Shipping and are design'd to wear out those you have and to have to do
with no more if this be your Case who have the consignments to lick your
Losses Whole you will easily make a judgement what little reason we
have to run into such Adventures that have none of those sweet Morsels
to make up our Losses you know what a great Sufferer I was for many
years together by the Carter never failed in filling up my quota every year
and yet always brought in to bear a share in the dead Freight After you
Have pleased yourself in saying all the disadvantagious things of your
Shipping I believe you will find it absolutely necessary while you
are desirous to Support your interest in the trade . . . will be necessary
for to continue an owner

     I reckon Tom Dove is ppretty secure on an employ under you
The Bailey is grown ppretty old how long you will think her fit to
Continue in the trade is none of my business to given an opinion in --
But from Mr. Doves Silence (for he has not said one Word to me
about a New Ship) I reckon he is very well satisfyied to Continue in the old one
as I am that he has made to me no new fresh Solicitations If my stemmed
tobacco Sent you u last year and this would turn out at about 10£ Per hogshead
and you and Mr Athawes inclination were turnd fixed so much in his favour -- to build a new
Ship for him to be appropriated for this River I would upon these
Conditions Adventure to be Concerned in her as far as two or three hundred
Pounds will go. Tom Dove has shown so much life and dexterity
in his business this Year that I have taken up a better opinion of him
than I Used to have which was when he was made a master there was a
good Mate spoiled

     Herein comes the following Small bills of Exchange
Vizt Mr. Thomas Edwards on your Selves for 11"18"2
     Capt Thomas Dove on ditto -- --                9"14"0     Carried to the next
     John Lees on Hugh Arburthnot                  3"6"3       Page but one

-3 -

     Brought from the forgoing Page but one

     I will once more beg of you to take up your old method in the Invoice
you send me that is not to give me the plague of the Shop notes I must
confess it is the method of the other Merchants and I believe it saves
them some trouble but it is not much and I hope you will please me in this

     As for your own business you have it at large in a joint letter
from Mr. Lee and my self which I Expect will be to your Satisfaction --

     I heartily wish your Health and all the imaginable Happiness which
this World has to bestow upon us Wretched mortals while we are in our
Veil of Pilgrimage combating with the daily tr oubles yals of it and am

                  with abundance of Sincerity,
                     Your Most humble Servant --

-4 -

A Postscript to Mr. Dawkins last letter
Gint [sic ]

     In a former letter I have written to you both very Pressing --
ly to use your Utmost endeavours to send me in a Person of Proper qualifi
cations to be a Clerk to me in the Room of Richard Chapman whose time of
Service is near Expirig I cannot forbear repeating this request to
you with all imaginable Earnestness. I am to Advise I have just now a
bill of Exchange on you . Payable to the said Richard Chapman which I
request you to Answer


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 lower corner portion of the first leaf has bee3n affected by a water stain thast has faded the ink making reading difficult.

[1] The Bailey was a London ship owned by William Dawkins and commanded at various times by Adam Graves (1725-1730) and by Thomas Dove 1730-1732. She was a vessel of some 250 tons and carried 15-17 crew members. ( Survey report 6801 summarizing Adm. 68/195, 156v, and other data in Adm. 68/194 and /196, found in the microfilms of the Virginia Colonial Records Project, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia; A letter of Carter's to Dawkins May 12, 1732, refers to "your ship Bailey." as does a letter of August 10, 1733, from Carter's executors to Dawkins. [ Lloyd T. Smith, Jr., ed. The Executors' Letters of Robert Carter of Corotoman, 1732-1738. (Irvington, VA: Foundation for Historic Christ Church, 2010) p. 76]. )

[2] 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. )

[3] Vizt. is the abbreviation for the Latin word "videlicet"; it means "that is to say; namely; to wit: used to introduce an amplification, or more precise or explicit explanation, of a previous statement or word." ( Oxford English Dictionary online. )

[4] Carter uses the word "bottom" in the sense "bottom (of a ship): generally . . . 'the part of the hull of a ship which is below the wales' . . . ; also, the hull as a whole; hence, a ship, boat, or other vessel." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[5] John Falconar (1677-1729) was a London merchant with whom Carter dealt. He apparently was in New Jersey and Maryland, 1699-1705. In 1728, Falconar and Henry Darnell formed an association of 29 London tobacco merchants to deal with the French tobacco purchasing agent as a group in order to keep the price as high as possible. The association lasted only lasted a year or two before dissolving because some of its members were dealing directly with the French agent and selling below the agreed-upon price. (See Carter's letter to Falconar of July 24 and August 22, 1727, for details about the payment of £200 to him. See Carter to William Dawkins, for Falconar's death date. "GEN-MEDIEVAL -L Archives" on Rootsweb, 8/10/2015 ; and Arthur Pierce Middleton. Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of the Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era. Newport News, VA: Mariners' Museum, 1953. p. 129 )

[6] 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. )

[7] Dead freight is "the amount paid for that part of a vessel not occupied by cargo, when the vessel is chartered for a lump sum." ( Oxford English Dictionary Online . Oxford University Press. )

[8] the Rappahannock

[9] 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. )

[10]"Thos. Edwards, a little petty Fogging Lawyer the Clark of our County that hath as much Mettle and more cunning for Contention then his predecessor had" Carter wrote to Landon Jones, July 22, 1723. His opinion of Edwards later changed for there are more appreciative mentions of him in Carter's diary. Edwards was clerk of the Lancaster County court from 1720-1746. ( Within the Court House at Lancaster. Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, Lively, VA: Lively Printing Services, [1976]. p. 15. ; and "Thomas Edwards, Gentleman, Clerk of the Court" in Brown and Sorrells. People in Profile. pp. 94-103. )

[11] Carter may refer to Thomas Lee (1690-1750) of Westmoreland County, the son of Richard Lee II, and nephew of Edmund Jenings; he would build "Stratford," and succeed Carter on the Council. For a good article on Thomas Lee, see "Thomas Lee of Stratford 1690-1750" by Jeanne A. Calhoun on Stratford plantation's website. ( Burton J. Hendrick. The Lees of Virginia: Biography of a Family. [Boston: Little Brown, 1935]. pp. 48, 51, etc. )

[12] As Carter's clerk, Chapman had written out and signed as a witness to Carter' will and several of its codicils.

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